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Energy contained in food and drink is measured in units called kilocalories, or more commonly calories. On food labels you will see this written as kcal. We burn off some of the energy (calories) we consume during physical activity|.
Two-thirds of the energy we consume is used to maintain our body temperature and enable the body to function properly, for example to digest the food we eat and to make new tissues. When we take in more energy than we burn off, this is stored as fat and we gain weight.
The recommended average daily energy intake for adults is about 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men, although the amount we need lessens as we get older.
To lose weight you need to burn off more energy than you take in. You can do this by:
Many weight loss programmes are based on calorie-controlled diets. In this section we discuss eating a variety of food types in the right amounts. This approach can help reduce the amount of energy you consume and, along with increased physical activity, can help you lose weight.
Content last reviewed: 1 April 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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