Dietary Guidelines Explained: Balance calories in with calories out

"To maintain a body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended."

“Calories expended” may sound more like you’re doing your monthly budget than maintaining a healthy weight, but actually, a budget is one way to apply this crucial guideline – only in this case you don’t want to save anything; this is strictly an expense account!

Every day you have a certain “budget” in your “calorie account”. This is the number of calories you need to live and grow at a healthy weight and is based on factors such as gender, age, height, and weight. It usually ranges from 1200 to 2000 calories per day. Your aim is to keep that calorie account as balanced as possible. So, if you spend a few extra calories, i.e. by exercising more than usual, you can top off your account by eating some more. If, on the other hand you add more calories to your account by eating too much, you need to go out and spend the extras on some exercise! To make sure you have a balanced budget, it's important to use tools that help you to get an accurate picture of how much food you eat and how much exercise you do, as without these tools it can be easy to underestimate the amount of food you eat and overestimate the amount of exercise you do.

Try our calorie-budgeting tips:

  • Use a Food and Exercise Diary to record how many calories you consume, and how many you expend through exercising. Remember to record your snacks and drinks as well.
  • Use a food scale and measuring cups and spoons to measure the amount of food you eat.
  • Large portion sizes mean more calories. Eating smaller portions is an easy way to reduce the amount of calories you consume.