Calories? 2000 a day? No, this is just a population average! True intake should be personalised to you!

When I was 24, I ran a marathon, and in my training was recommended by an NHS nutritionist to have 2000 calories a day, and eat lots of carbohydrates and lots of nuts. I was told to avoid saturated fats like coconut oil and butter as they are bad for your heart, and stick to healthy fats such as omega-3, olive oil and sunflower oils. I was told to eat lots of fibre for my gut microbiota and avoid sugary calories as “these have no nutritional value.” As I trusted this person, I followed her advice strictly and did what I thought was good for my health. So good, it nearly killed me!


I am and was, a very active person. As a result of this, I need more calories. 2000 calories a day is a recipe for weight loss for me. When I started a sedentary job, it was fine, as I was less active and so needed less energy, but my calorie intake is personal to me, as my activity level and metabolism. Calories on menus are obsolete, as each person’s body will respond to the calories they consume in a different way, based upon their unique genotype (biological genetics) and phenotype (lifestyle) and the other foods they eat the meal with, how active they have been that day, the way the food is cooked, how processed it is, how much sleep they have had and so many other facts. You also only have to add one more pea to the meal then the serving and the calorie amount is wrong. Also, some people will eat every scrap on their plate, and some will leave their crusts or the burger bun or the fish skin or whatever, and the calorie estimate does not take this into account. It doesn’t account for waste.

A calorie is a unit of energy. Energy is needed by every single cell in your brain and body. Without calories, we die. Lots of professionals in the nutrition field believe that weight and health are as simple as calories in versus out, as do many of the general public. However, it is not as simple as this. Some foods keep us more full for longer, and so have more calorific mileage so to speak. These foods, such as the highly satiating protein macronutrient and foods with a low glycaemic index such as wholegrains, nuts and seeds, keep you feeling full (satiated) and energised for longer. Therefore, you are less likely to snack. High-sugar products, such as fruit (high in fructose sugar), cakes and chocolate, can be low calorie (a kit kat is 100 calories, a banana is 200), but have less nutritional mileage as they cause sugar lows which decrease energy and increase appetite.

Calories are not evil and with so many factors involved in calorie interactions and such, counting them is obsolete. What is instead important is you tailor your diet to you. Nutrition is personalised medicine, and the amount of a product you should have, is up to your body type, the amount of sleep you have, how active you are, if you are ill (you need more or less when ill), your stress levels, your lifestyle and the other foods you eat during the day. It is hugely complicated. You must become self-aware, and recognise how different foods affect your energy levels, weight, skin, health, appetite, sleep, stress resilience and mood, and tailor these to your life. Take calorie intakes and calories on menus as exactly what they are, recommendations based on national averages. You are an individual and you may differ hugely from the national average. Therefore personalise your plate to you and don’t be a statistic.

Food = Personalised Medicine

Tailor your plate to you

Laura Campbell

Copyright Laura Campbell 16/12/2022

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s