I’ve blogged here before about how to calculate how many calories you should eat a day depending on your body and your goal. I realize that once you have that info., you might not know what to do with it! Calorie content is listed on the nutritional labels of all packaged foods you eat. For things like fruit and vegetables, you can look up their calorie content here. For information on how to read a nutritional label, see the information here on the American Institute for Cancer Research’s website. You will notice that everything you need to know about how healthful a food is, or is not, is right there on the label – so ignorance is never an excuse!
I hate to make things more complicated (but important things usually are), but not all calories are created equal. Calories from whole grains (this includes brown rice and whole-wheat breads and pastas) and fruits and vegetables give you more value per calorie than processed foods because they contain more nutrients, antioxidants and fiber. So keep that in mind when you’re sitting next to your skinny friend who may be eating a plate of food with the same amount of calories as yours because while you’re eating chicken and salad full of protein, fiber and nutrients, his/her piece of lasagna is just full of refined carbs and fat with little nutritional value.
I’ve said it before, but calorie counting gets tricky when you go to restaurants. Even if you can find the nutritional information online, you can’t know for sure that the particular chefs cook the food according to the specifications set up by the restaurant. For instance, if a chef decides to use one extra tablespoon of butter on your “healthy” pasta, that adds 102 calories and 11.5 grams of fat to your meal. Scary, right?
So if you know how many calories you should be eating and how many calories are in the food you eat, next to know is how many calories you burn by exercise. How many calories you burn by exercise depends primarily on your weight, age, the type of exercise performed, and the duration and intensity of the workout. This is a good site to find out, and this one is too.
That should be a good start to being an informed eater and exerciser!