Daily Energy Requirements, Measurements and Usage Explained with Links to Optimal Eating Patterns
Just like lights need power to shine, we need energy to fulfil our body’s metabolic, physiological, muscular and growth demands! Thankfully for us, our energy comes in the form of food and each time we sit down to eat we are essentially re-charging our supply. When the tank is low, our lights go out and our capacity to function dwindles. Ensuring we are meeting our body’s daily energy needs is important for over all wellbeing and not to mention staying sane!
What are my needs?
Our energy needs are diverse and depend upon a range of factors such as age, height, weight, genetics, muscle mass, fat mass, exercise, sickness and environment. We have different requirements to our friends, partners and co-workers. This is why diet comparison does no body any favours; your needs are unique and specific to you, being in tune with your hunger and how food makes you feel is the first step to meeting your energy needs.
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the minimum amount of energy required to support your basic body functions. Set estimations of energy needs do exist and are useful in certain settings. Formulas to calculate BMR usually ask for height, weight, age and level of activity. If you haven’t worked yours out, the Australian Government Eat for Health offers a daily energy requirements calculator:
Spreading it out…
Whilst knowing your daily energy needs is useful, knowing how to eat to optimise your needs is most beneficial. It is important to spread energy from foods throughout the day to keep your metabolism firing and blood sugar balanced. When thinking of “spending” energy intake, also think about how to get the highest nutrient intake possible.
Your daily focus should be representing each macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates (including fibre) and healthy fats) at every meal and snack; this is key to balancing blood sugar levels and promoting satiety, both effective for weight loss and energy levels.
Showing how it’s done…
If you have read a food label or cereal box you will know the average adult requires the famous 8,700kJs daily to meet their energy demands. Using this figure as an example, here is how to spend 8,700kJs across the day wisely to optimise your daily intake:
Breakfast (approx. 2,200kJs) – 1 serve protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats & fibre
- A smoothie is quick and easy, see my yummy recipe below using Vitasoy Almond Milk Unsweetened or
Lunch (approx. 2,200kJs) – 1 serve protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats & fibre
- Vegetable based soup with 1-2 tbsp yoghurt or boiled eggs and 1 slice of sourdough toast
- Salad wholegrain/spelt wrap with 100-120g rare roast beef, leg ham or boiled eggs and avocado and 1 piece of fruit
- Brown rice based salad with roasted vegetables and salmon
Snacks (approx. 840kJs) x 2 – combination of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats
- Vegetable sticks with 1/3 cup dip (hummus, beetroot)
- 100-200g natural yoghurt, ¼ cup berries and LSA
- 1-2 boiled eggs and vegetable sticks
- Small fresh vegetable juice and ¼ cup raw nuts
- 1-2 brown rice cakes topped with avocado, tomato & leg ham
Dinner (approx. 2,200kJs) – focus here should be 100-200g portion of protein, 1/3-1/2 cup wholegrain carbs and half plate full of vegetables
- 180-200g baked white fish with roasted sweet potato and Greek salad
- 150g grilled chicken breast with pesto, spinach & tomato brown rice pasta with leafy green side salad
Supper: light snack (if required) (approx. 420kJs)
- 1 herbal tea and 2 dried apricots
- 100g yoghurt and ¼ cup berries
- 2 squares dark chocolate
Remember, the above is a guide; you may feel better eating a king sized breakfast and lean dinner and snacks may suit you or may not. Another important consideration is diversifying your food choices to make sure your nutrient supply is tip-top. A good way to start is alternating vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources of protein daily or trialling plant-based milks such as soy, almond or coconut milks. But make sure to always look out for good-quality plant milks. For example, I love almond milk and Vitasoy’s new Almond Milk is made with Australian grown whole almonds, is a source of calcium for strong bones and has a mild, nutty flavour, which I like.
Keep in mind that whilst calories (kilojoules) count, nutrients count more! You should focus basing your diet around wholefoods with ample seasonal vegetables. This ensures not only your energy but also your nutrient needs are being met. Focusing on nutrient dense wholefoods, naturally lower in energy will see the greatest improvements to health and wont cause kilojoule-counting stress. Finally, whilst we may automatically turn to the calculator to determine whether a kilojoule creep has caused widening of the waist – remember to check in on how you’re doing by tuning into the way you feel within and practicing mindfulness daily – when we eat and live intuitively we can’t go wrong!
Vitasoy Almond Milk Unsweetened Breakfast Smoothie
- 1 ½ cups Vitasoy Almond Milk Unsweetened
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 tbsp oat bran
- 1 tbsp almond butter (or other nut butter)
- A handful of ice cubes
- 1 tbsp cacao powder (or dark cocoa)
Put all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.
Serve and enjoy!
PHOTO: William Sonoma
Daily Energy Requirements Calculator, Australian Government, 2015. Available from: <http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/node/add/calculator-energy>. [20 July 2015].