Lynette is a program coordinator for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Whether it’s a checkbook, a career or your family life, it’s likely you have at least one daily balancing act in your life.
Keeping a healthy weight is no different – it’s all about balancing the number of calories you eat with the number of calories your body uses or “burns off” when you’re active (through normal daily activities and physical activity). At the end of the day, you want the number of calories you consumed to be equal to the number of calories you burned.
One way to help you think about this balancing act is to understand how many minutes of physical activity you would need in order to burn off what you eat and drink. For example, if you ate a double cheeseburger with bacon and mayonnaise, you could be consuming almost 1,000 calories! To burn that many calories, you would need to take two intense 60-minute spin classes, back to back! To avoid extra calories and fat without making a huge change, skip the second burger patty, the bacon and even the cheese.
A caramel frappe with whipped cream can have as many as 700 or 800 calories, which means you would need to walk almost 8 miles to burn off those calories. Unless you’re a fan of three-hour walks, limit frappes to special occasions and choose drinks made with low-fat or skim milk or drinkable yogurt. There are also plenty of naturally flavored waters and seltzers available to help you quench your thirst.
One other thing to keep in mind is that the average adult only needs 2,000 calories each day to maintain a healthy weight – and some people need even less! The number of calories you need depends on your age, gender and how active you are.
Check out this chart to see approximately how many calories YOU should be consuming each day.
Soon most chain restaurants will be posting calories of foods and beverages on their menus, and it will be much easier to know the number of calories in the foods we order. Until then, ask restaurants and fast food chains for nutrition information or visit their websites ahead of time. There are also ways to choose healthier foods, simply by making small changes and avoiding unhealthy condiments and extra add-ons.
For more information on calories, visit Mass in Motion.