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Is it worth counting calories? Do the math

June 09, 2008|Jeannine Stein | Times Staff Writer

MOST people who maintain a substantial weight loss work to keep their calories low -- between 1,200 and 1,700 a day for women, and 1,800 to 2,200 for men (depending on factors such as metabolism and amounts of exercise). That's far fewer calories than the amount consumed by most people who have never lost a great deal of weight.

So what does a 1,600-calorie diet look like compared with what can be a typical day's worth of food? The differences are dramatic, and point out how little things can add up -- fatty salad dressing, butter, a handful of candy, sugary sodas. By not keeping an eye on extra fat and calories, total calories for one day can easily reach almost 3,000 -- all of which probably won't be burned off, resulting in added pounds. (Calorie figures were taken from CalorieKing, a website that offers an online database of nutritional information for more than 50,000 generic and brand-name American foods.)

1,600 calories


3/4 cup Cheerios (75) with 3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk (92)

and 1 medium banana (105)

Midmorning snack:

1 small apple (55)

2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter (188)


1 1/2 cups mixed vegetable salad (33) with 5.8-oz can of light tuna (191),

half an avocado (117) and 6 tablespoons of reduced fat

Italian dressing (68), whole grain roll (100)

Afternoon snack:

1 cup air-popped popcorn (31)

1 small orange (45)


4 ounces roasted chicken breast (190), 3 ounces fresh broccoli (30),

1 small plain baked potato (128), small mixed vegetable salad with

4 tablespoons nonfat ranch dressing (84), 3.7 ounces fat-free chocolate pudding (60)

TOTAL: 1,592

2,900 calories


1 glazed doughnut (200), coffee with 2 tablespoons half-and-half (40)


Chicken Caesar salad (with dressing) from Chili's Grill & Bar (1,010), 12-oz. Coke (143)

Midafternoon snack

1 1/2 -ounce Hershey bar (230)


Two slices of original-crust 14-inch pepperoni pizza from Papa John's Pizza (620),

mixed vegetable salad with 4 tablespoons Italian dressing (188),

1 cup of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream (480)

Total: 2,911

Online resources for calorie counts of various foods:


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