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HEALTH Calories and weight loss

Don’t get too hung up on calories

Food diary

Veronica Mannion

To lose weight we are told, we have to reduce our calorie intake. So what are calories?
A calorie is a unit of heat, and one calorie is the amount of heat it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1ºC. Before your brain explodes from trying to work out how that relates to weight loss, relax. All you need to know is that taking in more calories than your body needs on a daily basis will mean that you put on weight.
For weight loss, there are two ways of looking at calories. We should be looking to reduce the amount of calories we take in, and we should also be looking to increase the amount of calories we use up by becoming more active. That means including more exercise in your daily routine.
In Europe, women’s recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories per day and men’s recommended daily intake is 2,500 calories. In the UK, the government is reviewing the recommended calorie intake for women and men. This may be due to the sedentary lifestyles that most people now lead. We may need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight.
If you are trying to lose weight, your recommended calorie intake should range between 1,200 and 1,800. Try not to become too hung up on counting calories, however. There are a lot of foods that are low in calories but have very little nutritional value. Your body is complex and needs adequate amounts of carbohydrates, protein, vitamin, minerals and water.
Just remember this simple rule: If you eat more calories than you need, then your body will store the excess energy as fat; if you take in fewer than you need, your body will burn fat to provide the extra energy.

Veronica Mannion runs EasySlimFitness classes in Westport, Castlebar, Claremorris and Ballina ( She can be contacted at 087 2308946 or