Calorie-counting; it has its critics. Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach , for example, believes that crunching numbers can lead to a ‘crash diet’ mentality. However, the government seems to feel differently with a number of its recent campaigns having been built around the concept to tackle the growing problem of childhood and adult obesity.
We had the Change4Life campaign in January to address children’s snacking and help reduce their sugar intake. And now we have its latest One You campaign - a new initiative centred around the 400-600-600 rule. What does that mean exactly? 400 calories at breakfast and 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner. With recent stats from The Office of National Statistics showing that we’re eating 50 per cent more calories than we think we are , it’s hoped that this will help slash our daily totals by 200 to 300 calories a day. Total daily calorie intake recommendations remain at 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.
The campaign’s also asking manufacturers to reduce the number of calories in their products by 20 per cent by 2024 by changing recipes and reducing portion sizes. The foods covered by the programme include pizzas, ready meals, ready-made sandwiches, meat products and savoury snacks.
It isn’t just a numbers-game though - one of the key reasons for why calorie-counting has its detractors is because of worries surrounding a ‘quantity over quality’ mentality. Healthy choices are key, and it’s important to have both.
The 400-calorie breakfast
The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) recommends getting at least one of your 5-a-day in at breakfast - add fruit to cereals or try vegetables such as grilled tomatoes or mushrooms. They also recommend going wholegrain by choosing one of our favourites, porridge , or other wholegrain cereals and breads for extra fibre and nutrients. Furthermore, they advise ditching lattes, juices and smoothies and opting for filter coffees, unsweetened teas and water instead.
The 600-calorie lunch
The BNF recommends being label-savvy and avoiding ‘meal deal’ options - a sugary drink and a high fat accompaniment can take up almost your entire calorie allowance. Instead, look for foods low in saturated fat and salt, fill up on fibre (e.g. wholegrain breads, brown pasta or rice) and pair with a lean protein such as chicken or plant-based proteins such as beans and pulses to keep you fuller for longer.
The 600-calorie dinner
If you’re dining out, they recommend trying a healthy side order like a mixed salad or vegetables, avoiding butter and creamy sauces and taking advantage of the lower-calorie, lighter options on the menu. If you’re at home, opt to steam or grill your food rather than roasting or frying it to keep fat and calorie content down and again, be label-savvy with your shopping choices. For more advice on decoding your labels and avoiding any hidden nasties, check out our guide here .
For more information on healthy eating outside of home, check out nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/helpingyoueatwell/outofhome .