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Calories: Friend or Foe?

When it comes to energy, calories can be your best friend. You just need to sort through all the jumble of information out there! Consuming the right amount and type of foods will fuel your metabolism and prevent energy dips. You caloric need does change to some degree every day, but you can get an average that can be a good guideline to follow regarding just how many calories you can eat. Divide Your weight by 2.2, then multiply that number by the corresponding daily activity level:

Light Activity: (Walking at 2.5 to 3 mpg, housecleaning, child care, golf, working in a restaurant) Multiply by 34

Moderate Activity: (Walking at 3.5 to 4 mph, gardening, cycling, skiing, tennis, dancing) Multiply by 37

Heavy Activity: (Walking uphill with a backpack, climbing, basketball, football, and soccer) Multiply by 44

Exceptional Activity: (Professional athletic training, world-class events) Multiply by 51

Once you have the number of calories you need, your next goal is to pick foods that provide the biggest energy payoff. Fat contains more calories per gram (nine) than carbohydrates, but won’t get your energy levels up and running as much as a whole-wheat bagel will. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source. Protein can provide energy as well, but your body relies on it primarily for cellular repair and growth. More than one-half of your caloric intake should come from carbohydrates, with the remainder split almost equally between fat (25%) and protein (20%).

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Following is an extensive list of different types of healthy foods and their caloric amounts per serving. Try to make as many selections from the list as possible, to meet your calorie requirements.

Ultimate Energy Foods: Carbohydrates

One serving from breads, cereals, legumes, whole grains, rice, crackers and snack foods or starchy vegetables contains about 80 calories. Choose from:

  • Breads
  • Bagel, mini, whole-grain (1/2 bagel = 1-ounce)
  • Bread, whole-grain (1 slice = 1-ounce)
  • Muffin, high-fiber (1/2 small)
  • Pita, whole-grain, 6-inch (1/2 pita = 1 ounce)
  • Tortilla, whole-grain, 6-inch (1)
  • Cereals
  • Cooked cereal, 1/2-cup
  • Dry cereal, non-sweetened, 1/2-cup
  • Granola – 1/4-cup
  • Legumes (1/3-cup for all)
  • Beans, black
  • Beans, kidney
  • Beans, lima
  • Beans, pinto
  • Beans, white
  • Lentils
  • Peas, black-eyed
  • Peas, split
  • Whole Grains (1/2-cup)
  • Bulgur, cooked
  • Pasta, whole-wheat, cooked
  • Rice (1/3-cup cooked)
  • Brown rice
  • White rice
  • Crackers and Snack Foods
  • Crackers (6)
  • Melba Toast (5)
  • Popcorn, air-popped (3-cups)
  • Pretzels (3/4-ounce)
  • Rye crisp or Wasa-type crackers (2 to 4)
  • Tortilla chips (8)
  • Starchy Vegetables (1/2-cup unless stated otherwise)
  • Corn
  • Peas, green
  • Potato, baked (3 ounces)
  • Potato, sweet, mashed (1/3-cup)
  • Potatoes, mashed
  • Squash, winter (1-cup)

Fruit contains about 60 calories per serving (a small medium-sized piece of fresh fruit, such as an apple or peach; 4-ounces of 100-percent fruit juice; or the amount indicated below:

  • Apple (1)
  • Applesauce (1/2-cup)
  • Apricot halves, dried (7)
  • Apricots, fresh (4)
  • Banana (1/2 large)
  • Blueberries or blackberries (3/4-cup)
  • Cantaloupe (1/3 of melon or 1-cup cubes)
  • Cherries (12)
  • Grapefruit (1/2)
  • Grapes (15)
  • Honeydew melon (1/8 of melon or 1-cup cubes)
  • Kiwi (1)
  • Mango (1/2)
  • Orange (1 medium)
  • Papaya (1-cup)
  • Pineapple (3/4-cup)
  • Plums (2)
  • Prunes or dried plums (3)
  • Raisins (2-tablespoons)
  • Raspberries (1-cup)
  • Sorbet (1/4-cup)
  • Strawberries (1-1/4-cup)
  • Tangerines (2)
  • Watermelon cubes (1-1/4-cup)


A serving from this group (1-cup raw or 1/2-cup cooked or juiced) contains about 25 calories.

  • Artichoke (1/2 medium)
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Peas, snow
  • Peas, sugar snap
  • Peppers
  • Salsa
  • Sprouts
  • Tomato sauce (1/2-cup)
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips

As with any healthy diet, choose low-fat dairy products and lean meats as often as possible. Choose from:


A serving contains between 75 and 120 calories.

  • Buttermilk (1-cup)
  • Cheese, regular or reduced-fat (1-ounce)
  • Milk, low fat or skim (1-cup)
  • Mozzarella, part-skim (1-ounce)
  • Parmesan, grated (2-tablespoons)
  • Ricotta, part-skim (1-ounce)
  • Yogurt, low-fat or non-fat (1-cup)

A serving of lean protein contains 55 to 75 calories.

  • Beef, round, sirloin, flank, and tenderloin (1-ounce)
  • Chicken (skinless), turkey, Cornish hen or game such as venison, or skinless duck (1-ounce)
  • Cold cuts, reduced fat (1-ounce)
  • Egg (1)
  • Egg whites (3)
  • Fish, fresh (1-ounce)
  • Lamb chops, leg or roast, trimmed (1-ounce)
  • Pork tenderloin, loin, fresh ham, cured or boiled ham, Canadian bacon (1-ounce)
  • Shellfish such as shrimp, crab, lobster, scallops or clams (2-ounces)
  • Tofu (4-ounces)
  • Tuna or salmon, canned in water or oil (1/4-cup)
  • Veal chops or roasts, trimmed (1-ounce)


A serving of fat contains about 45 calories.

  • Avocado (1/8)
  • Butter or margarine (1-teaspoon)
  • Cream cheese (1-tablespoon)
  • Mayonnaise (1-teaspoon)
  • Mayonnaise, low-fat (1-tablespoon)
  • Nuts, chopped (1-tablespoon)
  • Peanut butter or other nut butter (1-teaspoon)
  • Salad dressing, bottled or oil/vinegar (1-tablespoon)
  • Vegetable oil (1-teaspoon)


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