Recent statistics on British diets, physical activity, and weight, state that on average, Brits are eating below the recommended daily intake of calories, and exceeding the recommended levels of physical activity. If this true, the majority of us should be slim and fighting fit. But we’re not. In 2011 only 39% of women and 34% of men had BMIs which fell within the ‘healthy’ range. This means that the majority of us are overweight. But if the majority of us are eating and exercising within the guidelines, what’s going wrong?
We underestimate what we eat
The reality of the modern diet is that most of us underestimate what we eat. It’s so easy to absentmindedly eat a biscuit when they’re being offered round the office, or put more on our plates than we should, that we often forget how much we’re eating.
It’s nothing to be ashamed about; only the most disciplined amongst us are likely to remember everything we consume. However if you’re struggling to lose weight, put in the extra effort to record everything you eat – a single chocolate or biscuit might seem harmless on its own, but if you ‘treat’ yourself three times a day, you could be putting away far more calories than you think you are.
The reality is that we cannot trust statistics that are based on the public’s own perception of what they eat, because we can’t trust ourselves.
We drink too much booze
Following on from the point above, a lot of us underestimate how much we drink – forgetting that we should cut back on our alcohol not just because it’s directly bad for our health, but because it is packed with calories.
It’s very easy to lose track of what we drink after a couple of cocktails; and once we’re feeling tipsy, we’re often feeling too happy to worry about a third, fourth, or fifth cocktail.
And this is all before we’re too drunk to care about the calorific consequences of a late-night greasy takeaway.
The fact is that the British, generally, drink far too much, and don’t think, or worry about it. We’re consuming far too many calories just through drinking; and these are the easiest calories to forget about.
The calorie recommendations are wrong
There are two variations to the ‘‘recommended daily intake’ of calories for adults; 2000 for women, and 2500 for men. However there are so many variables that trusting this amount to be correct for you, is not a good idea. A 25 year old woman may be able to eat 2000 calories a day, but a 40 year old woman? A 50 year old woman? Should they expect to consume 2000 calories a day and not put on weight?
As we age, our metabolism slows down. Unless we increase physical activity as we get older, it’s safe to say that if we eat like we did in our twenties, we will put on weight.
Looking at statistics which say most of us are eating under the recommended daily calorie intake, and assuming this means we shouldn’t be overweight is ridiculous – the recommended intake is only a guide, and a very vague guide at that.
Try My Fitness Pal if you’d like a more accurate estimation of how many calories you should be eating to either maintain or lose weight.
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Natalie runs 3 times a week, and Monday to Friday evening she eats a strict calorie controlled diet. She enjoys herself on the weekends! She contributes to Who Needs Gyms?; a lifestyle website focused on getting fit without the need for a gym.