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Tip 66- Are Those Calories Worth It?

A girlfriend asked me to train with her for a race. I have to admit that every mile has been a huge challenge. After a run, I gleefully calculate how many calories I burned in the effort! For the first time in a long while, I’m thinking about calories before I stick them in my mouth. I’m making sure the calories are “worth it”. Here is my rational: “I just ran 4 miles, do I really want to eat a 500 calorie sandwich that doesn’t taste absolutely delicious?” 

Many restaurants now show the calorie count of foods on their menus. I was curious if once people are aware of the calorie count, do they make better decisions? A Stanford study found that Starbucks customers in New York bought 14% fewer calories after the calorie count was posted.

9 out of 10 people underestimate the number of calories in their meals, often by up to 600 calories/meal. If you underestimate and overeat a meal/day, you can gain a pound of fat every 6 days.

Today’s tip: Read your labels and be aware, not obsessed.

Determine how many calories you should be consuming each day. See the chart below to give you a guideline of your daily calorie requirements.

Know How Many Calories You Should Eat

To avoid gaining weight over time, you should aim to burn up as many calories through basic metabolic function and physical activity as you take in. To know whether you’re on track, you need to be able to estimate how many calories you need based on your age, gender and level of physical activity.

The calorie ranges shown in this table allow for the needs of people of different ages within an age group. Adults need fewer calories at older ages. For example, an active 31-year-old man needs about 3,000 daily calories, but an active 50-year-old man needs only about 2,800 calories.

         Activity Level and Estimated Calories Burned
 Gender  Age (years)  Sedentary1  Moderately Active2  Active3
  Female  19–30

 31–50

 51+

 2,000

 1,800

 1,600

 2,000-2,200

 2,000

 1,800

 2,400

 2,200

 2,000-2,200

  Male  19–30

 31–50

 51+

 2,400

 2,200

 2,000

 2,600-2,800

 2,400-2,600

 2,200-2,400

 3,000

 2,800-3,000

 2,400-2,800

1 Sedentary means you have a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

2 Moderately active means you have a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

3 Active means you have a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

This guide is from The American Heart Association.

3 Comments
  1. Hi Deborah – I’m having a hard time reading the calorie chart, the columns are not lining up.
    Can you tell me the estimated burned calories for Female, 51+, Moderately Active.

  2. I think this is a powerfull weolbg with much interesting articles about this stuff. And i just wanna say thanks for this. I’ll follow your website to see if you post more stuff like these!

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