What does 200 calories look like?

kiwi-fruit WiseGEEK:

Some foods have significantly more calories than others but what does the difference actually look like? When you consider that an entire plate of broccoli contains the same number of calories as a small spoonful of peanut butter, you might think twice the next time you decide what to eat.

As a guy on a diet, this is an interesting series of photographs.

  • A calorie is not a calorie. Check out Jonathan Bailor’s The Smarter Science of Slim. Would be a big help if you are on a diet.

    • Bob

      Jonathan’s stuff is really good and while he does have a book he gives pretty much all his info away freely on his podcast.

    • JohnDoey

      Calories are just units of food energy. They have nothing to do with whether a food is healthy. Motor oil has calories. I don’t suggest you eat it.

      If you eat too many calories, you will get fat. If you eat too few calories, you also get fat (but also will have almost no energy to do activities.) You have to eat enough calories but not too much. That could mean eating 1500–1700 calories every day. No more, no less. That is extremely hard to do if not impossible unless you actually count the calories you are eating. Same reason your car has a speedometer. It’s really hard to drive 90–100 kph without a speedometer. You are wry likely to be doing 120 kph or 80 kph without realizing it.

      If you want to lose weight is STARTS with knowing exactly how many calories you are eating each day. Then you can adjust until you are cruising along at your ideal calories every day.

      • Bob

        Our biochemistry is far more complex than your simple calories in calories out math and the actual science does not support your assertions. The source of the calories has a profound affect upon how the body responds to it. An equal amount of calories from fat, while tending to be stored in adipose tissue will not affect insulin where carbohydrate, regardless of source most certainly will and that makes an enormous difference on weight loss.

        I didn’t need to swallow the flavor-aid pushed by dietitians and the corporations who fund many of them to know what works for me to lose more than 80 pounds and I didn’t count a single calorie.

  • Richard Digital

    Exactly, not all calories are the same. As a guy looking to lose weight, stop. It won’t work. You have to want to live more healthily, and change your diet permanently.

    Food from plants and natural sources will make you healthier and give your body the energy it needs to remove bad calories it has previously stocked. Calories from bad sources such as refined foods, animal foods, dairy and wheat will just make you fatter.

    • Bob

      I’m with you on everything but the “animal foods” (though I agree about the dairy). I tried making vegetarian and vegan diets work for a very long time and I just got sick and depressed and fatter. And it was low carb and low fat. As soon as I added back in animal sources it was like I came alive and the weight started coming off effortlessly.

      Nothing is more nutrient dense than animal foods though some like feed lot beef is truly terrible for you (they give the animals weird wax pellets in their ears that make them fatter, don’t want that). Certain nutrients are only available (B12 and retinol for example) are only available in animal sources and fat is vital to healthy brain function.

      If one is worried about the suffering of animals for ethical reasons, free range eggs and shellfish like oysters. They don’t have a nervous system, I have more of an issue cutting down a tree. Also anyone with any personal electronics in this day and age who objects to ethical egg production or raising bees for honey in the name of vegan woo woo is a nonsensical hypocrite.

    • JohnDoey

      No. WRONG. Counting calories is what leads to eating better, healthy foods. You cannot ignore the calories.

      Let’s say you are always speeding when you drive. Always getting speeding tickets. Finally, you are about to lose your license and you need to start driving the speed limit. What do you do:

      • try to feel less hurried and hope that translates to driving under the speed limit (eat better foods)

      • count your kph by paying attention to your speedometer and keep it under the speed limit (count calories)


      Once you start counting calories, you can discover you are eating 1000 extra calories per day, and you can take steps to fix it. You replace ice cream with broccoli and bam, you get rid of that extra 1000 calories per day and you are no longer speeding, no longer getting speeding tickets.

      Yes, counting calories is a huge drag. But it is 1000 times better than buying fatter jeans, getting sleep apnea, or constantly feeling like you look awful. It is way more work to be overweight than it is to count calories.

  • 4 Hour Body program is working well for me. (Look past the stupid name) 🙂

    • JohnDoey

      They almost all have stupid names — the important thing is if it is a good program.

  • Dmitri

    Everybody is not the same, but this worked for me (and by “worked,” I mean lost 60 pounds in a year, lifelong digestion and skin problems cleared up, and feel great): http://marksdailyapple.com

    I don’t count calories, I eat as much as I want of a wide variety of delicious foods.

    I’m no expert. I don’t know what YOU should do, honestly. But I can say it really helped me out.

    • JohnDoey

      It is great that it works for you, but most people cannot find success that way, unless they are a nutritionist or very knowledgable about what calories are in foods. As the linked article shows, 200 calories can look very different. What happens is people start eating better foods, but still end up with hidden calories blowing out their day, like from peanut butter or popcorn which can be organic and healthy and delicious but in 10 minutes you have downed 1000 calories.

      So the idea with counting calories is that almost everyone who attempts it can succeed at it. They don’t have to hope to hit a lucky vein like you and just start eating right every day. Counting calories begins to educate them about what they are eating and where the excess calories are coming from.

      For many people, a wide variety of delicious foods is a 4000 calorie per day diet that is killing them. But for all of us, 1500 calories is 1500 calories — it’s a scientific unit of measure of food energy. It applies to all foods. Building a 1500 calorie a day menu is an A-B-C exercise that results in 3 healthy meals and gradual, consistent, healthy weight loss.

  • Will

    I’ve studied nutrition for around 7 years and the conclusion I’ve come to is that calories are borderline-pointless.

    People think that eating 800 calories of meat is better than eating 2000 calories of grains, cereals, vegetables of fruit and it’s intrinsically a fundamentally insane way of looking at things. The food itself you actually eat will always be far far more important than the amount of food or how many calories are contained in the food you eat. It’s the content, not the calories.

    Foods like nuts and seeds, including peanut butter (as long as it’s plant-based butter) are incredibly healthy; they may contain lots of calories and fats, but the fats they contain are “good” fats which actually help your body shed the excess fat gained from animal-based fats, as well as being nutritional powerhouses that ultimately make your body function better as a whole to begin with, from improving blood flow to lowering cholesterol to a million other benefits. As long as it’s a plant-based food, other than chemical processed sugar, you’re sound. Just eat.

    • You are right, calories are pointless. You’re body knows when its full, when you are eating the right food.

      But you are wrong that good fats come from plants and bad fats come meat. They both are good fats. You don’t need plant fats to remove animal based fats. You need them both. Fat is good for you. Meat is good for you. You don’t need to eat just plants. That’s crazy.

      • JohnDoey

        No, you are incorrect. Calories are very important, just like kph (or mph) is important when driving a car.

        Sure, your body knows when it is full. However, if you are full of broccoli and fish and rice, you will be full of 500 calories; if you are full of candy bars and ice cream, you will be full of 2000 calories. Same feeling of full, same full stomach, but very different health result. If someone who is eating to get full is also fat, then they can start counting calories and with a daily ideal intake of 1500, that forces them to put aside the candy bars and ice cream and eat 3 meals a day, each with only 500 calories. To make a satisfying 500 calorie meal you are going to have to discover low-calorie foods like fish and broccoli.

        Calories are not the only thing, but they are the most important thing. The excess fat on a person’s body is made out of excess calories. Period. To reduce the fat you have to reduce the calories. Counting them is step number 1.

        I have had success with that, and so have many of my friends. We learned to “spend” our limited daily calories on better foods. We started to look at ice cream as “wasteful” because in 5 minutes you can use up half of your daily calorie budget. We started to see carrots as wonderfully “free” because you can chew on them all day and hardly impact your daily budget at all.

        If you are overweight, you have to count calories because you need to eat enough but not too much in order to get your body on a fat-burning mode. Too much calories and you store fat; too little calories and you store fat. There is no escaping that. So just like you drive at the speed limit, you have to eat at the calorie limit.

    • JohnDoey

      Well, there are 2 ways to learn how to eat right:

      • go to school and become a nutritionist

      • count the calories in what you are eating until you recognize the good and bad food choices you are making

      … not everybody can do the former, but everybody can do the latter.

      If you are limited to 1500 calories a day, the only way to get through the day without being hungry is to eat low-calorie foods. A friend of mine who started counting calories noticed that he hit 1500 in the middle of the day because he was eating peanut butter and potato chips, but he modified his diet in order to hit 1500 after dinner at night.

      In business there is an expression: “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Calories are the basic measure of food energy. If a person wants to manage their food intake in order to lose weight, it starts (but does not finish) with counting calories. The process of counting calories educates the person about what they have been eating and enables them to manage their food intake effectively.

      Keep in mind also, if you eat 4000 calories of broccoli and healthy grains and fruit and all the best, most healthy food, you will still get fat. So it is not just about eating better foods, either. Everybody has an ideal caloric intake based on their size and their activity level. Exceed it and you’ll get fat, fall too far below it and your body will go into starvation mode and you’ll still gain fat (and also lose a lot of energy.) Just like when you drive a car at the speed limit (not above, an not too far below) you need to eat at your caloric limit (not above, not too far below.)

  • JohnDoey

    The best way to lose weight is to count calories. Log everything you eat and make sure that everyday you get enough food (very important) but not too much food (very important.) There is a great app called “Lose It!” that makes this very practical — guides you through the whole process. I lost 50 pounds with it, and many if my friends also lost all the weight the wanted to lose and we all kept it off. Logging what you eat seems like a hassle at first, but pretty quickly you see results and you realize the small amount of work to count calories is much better than the large amount of weight and anxiety you leave behind. You learn how many calories are in what food and you never under eat or over eat and your body uses up a little fat each day and in no time you will reach a really ideal weight and look and feel better.

  • I’m guessing it looks like a Jack in the Box viral ad