RDAs & Kcals

For us runners, nutrition is very important, especially for those who are looking to loose weight. I was wondering if people generally know that when they read about Recommended Daily Intakes/Allowances of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, that the percentages given refer to the % of Kcal from each nutrient, rather than the % of a food's weight? So when we are told to have a diet with say 60% carbs, 25% fats and 15% proteins, looking at food labels is only of so much help.

It does seem confusing that food packaging has the weight in grammes of fat/CHO/protein and the total calorific value, but not the % of Kcal of each of these nutrients. To work this out would mean taking a calculator to the supermarket! Given that 1 gramme of fat leads to a digestible 9 kcal of energy compared to the 4 kcal in 1 gramme of carbohydrate or protien, it's easy to get confused... In fact I'm confusing myself now.........so I'll stop.


  • Lots of foods do give the percentage of calories from fat under the main nutritional label, Mowgli. I find that this, plus basic knowledge of which foods are mostly carbs and which are mostly protein, and not going over 70g protein a day (which is generous for someone of my size) while getting enough calories, is accurate enough - our diet doesn't have to be exactly right every day. Anyone going to admit to being rigid about 60/25/15 every single day?

    At least the weasel phrases like "naturally good for you" and "90% fat free" are due to disappear!
  • I saw that "may be good for your heart" thing, Tim - maybe it replaces "XXXX may lower cholesterol as part of a fat-reduced diet", or the even older "YYYY will help weight control only as part of a calorie-controlled diet".

    When I'm in overall control of food labelling, a lot of products will be obliged to cover at least 35% of their outer packaging with a health warning - "This contains sh*t, it's not going to do you one bit of good, put it back on the shelf NOW" would be a start.

    Big talk! And I can't even cure Kevin the Teenager of her Pot Noodle habit.

  • So, as a beginner to this running lark, and needing to loose about 2 stones; what can I look for in the food store that tastes good, fills me up (but not too much so that I don't feel like running) and will turn my big belly into a six pack?
  • Try drinking a six pack :-),after all it is Friday.
  • Thanks for the sensible advice Velociraptor. I do like Tim's suggestion to eat lots and run lots, I'll just have to eat lots of sensible things though. I'll have to forget all about that puddings thread!
  • I'm surprised that companies do not give more info on labels. In the last couple of years the Co-Op have greatly improved their labels...GM free, nutrition, animal testing, etc and their trade has increased by a big margin.
    The trick is this... when you are in a supermarket ask the nearest supervisor/manager about the nutritional/health aspects of some of their food items, if they cannot give you a good answer the say..."never mind, I'll get it somewhere else". If enough people do this they will take notie.
  • I'm not at all surprised, Robokidney. If a McDonalds large double cheeseburger with large fries and large milkshake came with a nutritional label on the pack, I'd be surprised if ANYONE was daft enough to eat it. And what about all those pies and pastries and cakes?

    Must admit, though, >>Velociraptor outs herself as a closet obsessive<< that I would love to know the precise nutritional composition of my favourite sweets - Werthers Originals - since I eat so many of them.
  • I hold no brief at all to defend McDonalds, but my understanding is that its food is high in fat and salt and that's about it. I have a young nephew with a neurological disorder, and he is intensely allergic to artificial flavourings, preservatives, sweeteners, etc. They send him hyperactive (ever seen a genuinely hyperactive child? Believe me, you don't want to.) Although he is also not allowed beef, he can eat McDonalds chicken processed thingies and chips with no ill effects. What he must avoid at all costs are normal sweets, which have about 100 e-numbers in them.

    What really pees me off about food labelling, apart from the examples quoted above, is lines like "no added sugar". That means it has aspartame in it. Or "no artificial sweeteners or flavourings". That means it does have artificial preservatives. And so on.

    Werthers Originals? Bleeuurgh! Jelly babies, now THERE'S something worth getting addicted to. High in glucose sugar, too, just the job for marathoning.
  • Macdonalds DO do nutritional labelling
    It doesnt sound as bad in their leaflet, clever marketing guys
  • What about all the cute strap lines 'Be good to yourself' (cue, I deserve a little treat, so long as it's fat reduced it doesn't matter if I eat the whole pack of these scotch pancakes), 'Healthy choice', or, on an apple, 'A naturally low-fat food'. Surely anybody who stops to think for a nano second would already know that apples are low in fat. I've read of studies showing that shoving low fat labels on food doesn't make an iota of difference to people's fat intake, they just eat more of them.
    Back to the original question, I honestly believe that with a fairly basic knowledge of the different food groups, and an idea of a balanced diet you don't need to bother about the % of fat etc never mind count calories. I do find the breakdown on labels helpful when comparing say the sugar content of breakfast cereals - my kids love to go and stay at their friends' houses where there they can have Coco pops and crunchy nut cornflakes for breakfast. Poor things.
  • It's the "100% pure beef" that McDonald's claims its burgers are made of that amuses me. It's not as bad since BSE reared its head and the regulations were tightened, but "beef" certainly doesn't mean muscle meat - it can include things like lips and snouts and testicles, the mechanically-recovered stuff blasted off the bones, and, of course, a certain percentage (I forget how much) of fat from other parts of the carcass. Yum!

    But chicken nuggets are probably worse, and my children, even the fussy one, will gladly eat them in handfuls when they go out with friends or can talk their way round Daddy - or at home, for I don't object to a bit of fast food (the difference is that at home boiled carrots and broccoli are fast food too so it isn't just a plateful of grease and batter).

    I struggle a fair bit at work with people who genuinely have no idea about healthy eating because they haven't grown up with it and aren't natural learners - people for whom "going on a diet" means stopping eating fattening potatoes and pasta and bread and bananas and snacking on a couple of nice healthy wodges of cheddar cheese spread with mayonnaise, or who just blot out any attempts to discuss the link between food and health with "I know...you're going to tell me to eat lettuce and tomatoes". And it's deeply, offensively racist to suggest that there are any fat or calories in good healthy traditional Asian or African Caribbean food like ghee and chevda and peshwari naan and "punch" (which is about equal proportions of stout, condensed milk, and 80 degrees proof rum that has been smuggled into the UK in aftershave bottles).
  • I can not get MrSS to understand that if he wants to lose weight - then he can't eat his normal foods plus the healthy ones.. Worse, since I started becoming more of an absentee mother a year ago due to running and he started doing the cooking - miniSS has ballooned.

    If healthy food is so good for you way don't our bodies crave it anymore?
  • Life is hard, thats why
    we obviously have to suffer
    But think of all the female bonding
    Sorry,really disapprove of diets and all that, get it every day at work
    mind you none of them exercise!!
  • V-Rap.

    Werthers Originals:
    430 calories per 100g/ml
    4.5 saturated fat per 100g/ml

  • Following on from V-rap above, I can never understand why it is so difficult for some people to grasp that if you take in more calories than you expend you're going to put on weight. I mean, it's so bleedin' obvious that you shouldn't have to have it explained to you. This is why I think that organisations (or rather businesses) like WeightWatchers are a cruel con.

    As for feeding the youngsters, I'm fortunate in having one who's equally happy munching dried apricots as gristleburgers (he gets offered the former much more often than the latter). And I'm unfortunate in that his mother (the ex, thank God) is a dogmatic and evangelical vegan/macrobiotic/vitamin pill nutter. The ideal, as always, lies somewhere more or less equidistant from the two extremes.

    This link gives an interesting take on the subject: http://www.orthorexia.com/home.htm.
    Put briefly, orthorexia nervosa is an unhealthy obsession with supposedly healthy food.

    And right now, I feel a chip butty coming on.
  • So does my boy, and spinach too. He's a particular fan of raw carrot dipped in hummus. You CAN feed (and treat) a child properly if you put your mind to it.

    Anybody else see that survey a week or so back that showed that youngsters are less active than pensioners?
  • Just to chip in again, why is it that beer, one of my favorite bevvies, has so many calories? My entire daily allotment of Kcal doubles after a good night out - 8 pints = RDA! It's so unfair, it means I have to keep running to avoid the terrible beer belly. I do lve running really though..
  • Mowgli, beer is not a particularly high-calorie drink. It's the volume of it that you drink that's the problem :-)

    The "orthorexia nervosa" thing (I came across the concept a few years ago) is close to home because my practice partner has got it! He's aiming towards veganism, recently married to a recently-converted (but chronically mildly eating-disordered) vegan, and when lunch is provided he'll go without rather than eating anything that's not organic fruit and veg. Suits me - all the more for everyone else - but it's small bloody wonder that he doesn't have the energy to turn in a decent day's work. He seems to attract girls with funny eating habits, though, or else drives them to it. His last bidey-in was substantially overweight and intermittently bulimic.

    Thanks for the Werthers stats, Beth. Now I'm going to have to work out how that translates into calories per sweet. Not that it will make any difference to the number I eat - the only thing that will do that is finding a new favourite.
  • Muttley -
    Sometimes people need the motivation that Weightwatchers and slimming clubs give.

    It seems that some people have no idea about healthy eating. I certainly had no idea growing up and at 16 lost weight by, stupidly, eating one meal a day for a year. I had no idea that it was wrong and would lead to poor eating habits. Fast weight loss but yo-yo weight afterwards because I didn't know how to maintain and stretch marks.

    The calorie thing - yes, less calories than you expend is for losing weight, but not too many less and with the right amount of food groups and protein/carbs/fats. Eating 1,000 calories made up of chocolate or chips is not going to help lose weight effectively, is it?

    See - I'm not saying you're wrong - it's just that some people don't understand these things (really they don't) and need guidance.

    I think nutrition should be taught in schools. My Mum, bless her, had no idea either and ended up on all sorts of diets when she was younger. How could she advise me then? We take the bad habits from our parents as well as the good.

  • I learnt all my nutritional knowledge from the internet. Seriously. I used to visit another forum where it is discussed quite a bit, and it was very helpful, but aside from that I visit all the health websites pretty regularly.

    I also track my daily protein/carbs/fat/calories intake on www.fitday.com.
    I'm not obssessive about it, but it does help to know what I'm putting inside me.

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