Thursday, July 17, 2008

Calories -- Oh Sob

The convenience of fast food is marvelous. You can drive up to a window, hand over money and someone will hand you food. Wow. That’s actually really cool. Except that the food they hand you is not necessarily good for you. It contains higher than normal amounts of salt and fat, highly processed bread, and lots of calories. If you work in a sedentary job, your body does not burn the calories. Plus there is the bio-ethics and safety issues of eating feed-lot beef and industrial chicken, and other centralized processing-plant foods.

When you cook at home and prepare easy low-calorie dishes, you will find that they range from about no calories to 200 calories. For every pat of butter you top you food with, you add about 100 calories. Even so, the food you prepare yourself probably has half as many or fewer calories than the favorite fast food meals. If you do not believe me, go to one of them and read the contents and calorie count. McDs puts the nutrition and calories on every box they hand out.

Consider the BK Chicken Whooper: it has 750 calories, and it is not even that filling. A McD’s 10 piece Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips is 1270 calories, the Big Breakfast is 730 calories, and the Deluxe Breakfast is 1220 calories according to the Fast Food Calorie Chart. My McD’s favorite is the Double Cheese Burger (comes without that third layer of bun). The box it comes in says that it contains 730 calories and 40 grams of fat. My, oh my! Now add in fries (large portion has 520 calories), soda pop (classic Coke large has 310 calories), and milk shakes (Chocolate shake 12 oz has 440 calories and the 32 oz has 1160 calories) on top of that. Lunch at McD’s could be easily contain 1500 to 2000 calories or more. This is an important figure for me and my health, which I will get back to in the last paragraph.

The Energy Allowance or how much you should eat.The energy allowance describes in general terms how we calculate the amount of energy we need each day to make our bodies go (walking, breathing, etc.). Vincent Iannelli, M.D., on provides this energy allowance information for children and young adults. Children need a lot more calories than adults do because they are growing. Many adults continue to grow rotund because we eat like we are fifteen years old. (We can all sing the chorus of 'unfair, unfair, unfair.') Equally annoying for women is the general fact that boys burn more calories than girls, even when they do the same activities.

For boys: from 2000 calories for a 7-10 year old, 2500 calories for an 11-14 year old, and 3000 calories for a 15-18 year old.

For girls: 2000 calories for a 7-10 year old, and 2200 calories for an 11-18 year old. These are only estimates and some children need more (fast metabolism) or less (slow metabolism) of an energy allowance for daily activities.

Also on About.Com, is Wendy Bumgardner, a guide on walking. She provides a very helpful page on diet portions. I used her calorie calculator to estimate how much I should eat.

You can do your own calculations at Calories Per Day Calculator. When you are at this page, you can easily link to Wendy Bumgardner’s other posts.

According to her calculator, if I want to maintain my current weight I should eat 1932 calories a day. If I want to weigh what I am told I should weigh, I should limit my calorie intake to 1577 calories a day. Remember those calorie counts for one fast food meal. If I eat one full meal with a "goodie", I have eaten (or over eaten) for two days! I will have to change my order to the Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken that has 200 calories and 6 grams of fat. I do eat mostly at home, and that's another story. Did I mention I am a good cook?

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