Energy is provided by the foods and drinks that we consume. Food and drinks contain different amounts of energy based on the levels of fat, protein, carbohydrate and alcohol present. When the body breaks down these energy-yielding ingredients, energy is produced.

Energy intake

Energy is required by the body for growth and repair, body functions and physical activity. The energy we consume keeps everything in the body working: the heart beating, the brain thinking and the legs running. Every person requires different levels of energy intake dependent on their body weight and their level of activity, as well as their age, gender and individual body requirements.

Energy balance

To achieve energy balance and therefore maintain a healthy body weight, it is necessary to only eat as much energy as you can exert. If you take in more energy than your body can use then you will gain weight as body fat. This will occur whether the excess energy eaten is from foods rich in carbohydrate, fat or protein.

Achieving energy balance

Some examples of actions you can take to achieve energy balance are:

  • Take part in at least 30 minutes of moderately intensive physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week, for example walking, gardening or cycling.
  • Reduce dietary energy intake but don’t remove those foods from the diet that contribute important nutrients (vegetables and fruits, wholegrain breads and cereals, milk and milk products, eggs, meats and legumes).
  • Reduce or limit the intake of foods high in energy but low in nutrients, such as ‘junk foods’ (chips and sweets) and fast foods.

Energy measure

On food packaging, energy will be listed as kJ or calories. These are the terms used for measuring energy. One calorie equals 4.3 kJ. It is just as important to take note of the amount of energy present in a food as it is to be aware of the fat content present in a food.

Bread and energy intake

Some consumers perceive bread to be fattening. Bread is actually quite bulky, so it takes longer to digest, leaving you feeling fuller for longer. The energy content of a slice of bread varies depending on the type of bread, but the energy content of a slice of bread is approximately 1000-1200 kJ/100g. This energy intake is actually a lot lower than other foods that you might snack on, for example, potato chips (approximately 2180 kJ/100g) or snack bars (1600 kJ). For those people who are concerned about the energy content of their bread, Molenberg Balance bread contains only 930 kJ per 100g, while Burgens Oatbran & Honey contains only 949 kJ per 100g of bread.

Bread is an excellent source of protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins (Thiamine, Riboflavin, and Niacin) and minerals (calcium, iron) and therefore it is best to limit other foods (i.e. high-fat or sugary foods) from the diet before limiting bread.