Quality Calorie (QC) Concept
What is the Quality Calorie (QC) concept?
The British Nutrition Foundation Quality Calorie (QC) concept encourages us to not just look at the number of calories we consume, but also the quality of our diet. This is with the aim to help us on the path to get enough of the nutrients that we need, this includes vitamins, minerals and fibre, whilst limiting the amount of nutrients that can raise the risk of many diseases when eaten in excess, such as free sugars, salt and saturated fat.
As a nation, obesity rates are accelerating due to consuming too many calories. In order to improve this it is important to be aware of the amount we eat and drink, but we also need to be mindful of the nutritional quality. The QC concept aims to help us to think about small, simple swaps that can be made every day to improve the nutritional quality of our diets, for the same or fewer calories. It is also worth noting that the increased intake of fibre will leave you feeling fuller for longer, and therefore less likely to turn to high sugar/fat/salt snacks later in the day.
Foods with similar calorie content can be different in terms of the nutrients they provide. For example, wholegrain bread, pasta and rice are higher in fibre than refined versions. Similarly, processed meats contain more salt than lean unprocessed meats.
If we only concentrate on calorie content, then we may avoid foods that are relatively high in calories such as nuts, seeds, oily fish and olive oil. However, these foods also have a high nutritional value with many health boosting qualities, and can be included as part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation.
Examples of meals with increased quality calories:
- Bowl of chocolate covered cereal Porridge oats topped with semi skimmed milk, fresh fruit, nuts and seeds
- Fried egg, bacon and sausage in a white bap Poached egg, roasted tomato, sautéed spinach and sliced avocado in a wholemeal pitta bread
- Butter and jam on white toast Wholemeal wrap with peanut butter, rolled around a banana
- Pancakes topped with chocolate Healthy banana pancakes
- Ham sandwich with white bread and butter Falafel and hummus in a wholemeal pitta
- Chicken Caesar salad Tangy chicken salad with pomegranate dressing
- Cream of chicken soup Chicken, coconut and veggie soup
- Chicken korma with rice and naan bread Chicken Tikka Shashlik with brown rice and sautéed spinach
- Beef and kidney pie with mash Cottage pie made with lean mince, extra veggies and topped with sweet potato mash
- Burger with onion rings and chips Turkey burger in a wholemeal pitta with salad and corn on the cob
- Sugar filled fruit flavoured yoghurt Frozen Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit
- Crisps and sour cream dip Toasted wholemeal pitta bread with salsa
- Biscuits, cakes and pastries A couple of small squares of dark chocolate, small handful of plain nuts & dried fruit, nut butter on fresh fruit
With the second meal options, you are likely to be faced with greater volume and nutrition. This will leave you fuller for longer and provide you with vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre and calcium that you may otherwise be lacking.