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Calories measure how much energy foods and drinks provide. Our bodies store and “burn” calories as fuel, which we use to work, play, and even sleep. To stay healthy, try to balance the number of calories you consume with the number of calories you burn.
Some foods and drinks – like potato chips, cookies, and soda – contain “empty” calories, which means they provide calories but have little nutritional value. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, contain calories as well as vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients.
Think you are pretty savvy when it comes to calories?
Guess how many calories are in each item below and then click to reveal the answer.
RECOMMENDED DAILY INTAKE
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is how many calories adult women and men should shoot for in a given day:
- Keep in mind that these are only estimates, and these numbers vary by physical activity level. To learn more about individual recommendations, click here.
- The more active you are and time you spend exercising, the more calories your body needs for fuel – diagram below.
HELPFUL CALORIE BREAKOUT BY MEAL
Aim for around 400 calories. Here are some nutritious breakfast options that will have you ready to take on the day. For more healthy breakfast ideas, click here.
- Whole wheat toast
- Greek yogurt with fruit
- 2-3 eggs – any way you like them
Aim for around 600-850 calories. Here are some healthy lunch options that will keep you fueled for the afternoon. For more quick and healthy lunch recipes, click here.
- Soup with a whole grain roll
- A turkey or grilled chicken wrap. (Hint: Use a whole wheat tortilla.)
- Feel like a simple salad just isn’t enough? Adding a grain like brown rice or protein like chicken or salmon can make you feel fuller.
- Chicken salad or tuna salad
Aim for around 600-850 calories. Eating earlier in the evening can help prevent you from going to bed on a full stomach when it’s bedtime. Try to fill half your plate (and your kid’s plate) with fruits and veggies. For more healthy and creative dinner ideas, click here.
- Grilled chicken with flavorful veggies
- Mexican bowl with brown rice
- Make nachos and swap the chips for sweet potato rounds
- Use a sheet pan and fill half with veggies and the other half with protein
Aim for around 150-200 calories. A few healthy snack options are below. Click here for more!
- Aim for around 150-200 calories. A few healthy snack options are below. Click here for more!
- Mixed nuts
- Reduced fat string cheese
- Apple slices with peanut butter or almond butter
- Hummus with a side of carrots or celery
Take a peek at these tips to make your calories count (but not add up too quickly):
- Eat a lot of green veggies that are high in nutrients but low in calories, like green beans, broccoli, and spinach.
- Use sauces sparingly. Slathering your food in excessive amounts of condiments like mayo and ranch can add up. Next time you eat a salad, try opting for more oil-based dressings like Italian and a vinaigrette.
- Rethink your drink. Opt for water instead of sugary drinks. Add some pizzazz to your water with these infused water recipes.
- Snack smart. Avoid the vending machine by packing your own nutritious snacks to bring wherever you’re going. Check out our fun snack ideas.
- Prioritize exercise. Not sure where to start? Browse a bunch of exercises here.
- Talk with your doctor. Your doctor can recommend a reasonable number of calories for your health goals.
For tons more healthy meal and snack ideas, click here.