When it comes to energy, calories can be your best friend. You just need to sort through all the jumble of information out there! Consuming the right amount and type of foods will fuel your metabolism and prevent energy dips.

Calories!

Your caloric need does change to some degree every day, but you can get an average that can be a good guideline to follow regarding just how many calories you can eat. Divide Your weight by 2.2, then multiply that number by the corresponding daily activity level:

  • Light Activity: (Walking at 2.5 to 3 mpg, housecleaning, child care, golf, working in a restaurant) Multiply by 34
  • Moderate Activity: (Walking at 3.5 to 4 mph, gardening, cycling, skiing, tennis, dancing) Multiply by 37
  • Heavy Activity: (Walking uphill with a backpack, climbing, basketball, football, and soccer) Multiply by 44
  • Exceptional Activity: (Professional athletic training, world-class events) Multiply by 51

Once you have the number of calories you need, your next goal is to pick foods that provide the biggest energy payoff. Fat contains more calories per gram (nine) than carbohydrates, but won’t get your energy levels up and running as much as a whole-wheat bagel will. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source. Protein can provide energy as well, but your body relies on it primarily for cellular repair and growth. More than one-half of your caloric intake should come from carbohydrates, with the remainder split almost equally between fat (25 percent) and protein (20 percent).

Following is an extensive list of different types of healthy foods and their caloric amounts per serving. Try to make as many selections from the list as possible, to meet your calorie requirements.

Ultimate Energy Foods: Carbohydrates

Breads

  • Bagel, mini, whole-grain (1/2 bagel = 1-ounce)
  • Bread, whole-grain (1 slice = 1-ounce)
  • Muffin, high-fiber (1/2 small)
  • Pita, whole-grain, 6-inch (1/2 pita = 1 ounce)
  • Tortilla, whole-grain, 6-inch (1)

Cereals

  • Cooked cereal, 1/2-cup
  • Dry cereal, non-sweetened, 1/2-cup
  • Granola, 1/4-cup

Legumes (1/3-cup for all)

  • Black Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • White Beans
  • Lentils
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Split Peas

Whole Grains (1/2-cup)

  • Bulgur, cooked
  • Pasta, whole-wheat, cooked
  • Rice (1/3-cup cooked)
  • Brown rice
  • White rice

Crackers and Snack Foods

  • Crackers (6)
  • Melba Toast (5)
  • Popcorn, air-popped (3-cups)
  • Pretzels (3/4-ounce)
  • Rye crisp or Wasa-type crackers (2 to 4)
  • Tortilla chips (8)

Starchy Vegetables (1/2-cup unless stated otherwise)

  • Corn
  • Peas, green
  • Potato, baked (3 ounces)
  • Potato, sweet, mashed (1/3-cup)
  • Potatoes, mashed
  • Squash, winter (1-cup)

highest calorie foods

Fruit

Fruit contains about 60 calories per serving (a small medium-sized piece of fresh fruit, such as an apple or peach; 4-ounces of 100-percent fruit juice; or the amount indicated below:

  • Apple (1)
  • Applesauce (1/2-cup)
  • Apricot halves, dried (7)
  • Apricots, fresh (4)
  • Banana (1/2 large)
  • Blueberries or blackberries (3/4-cup)
  • Cantaloupe (1/3 of melon or 1-cup cubes)
  • Cherries (12)
  • Grapefruit (1/2)
  • Grapes (15)
  • Honeydew melon (1/8 of melon or 1-cup cubes)
  • Kiwi (1)
  • Mango (1/2)
  • Orange (1 medium)
  • Papaya (1-cup)
  • Pineapple (3/4-cup)
  • Plums (2)
  • Prunes or dried plums (3)
  • Raisins (2-tablespoons)
  • Raspberries (1-cup)
  • Sorbet (1/4-cup)
  • Strawberries (1-1/4-cup)
  • Tangerines (2)
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce (1/2-cup)
  • Watermelon cubes (1-1/4-cup)

Non-Starchy Vegetables

A serving from this group (1-cup raw or 1/2-cup cooked or juiced) contains about 25 calories.

  • Artichoke (1/2 medium)
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Peas, snow
  • Peas, sugar snap
  • Peppers
  • Salsa
  • Sprouts
  • Turnips

Proteins

As with any healthy diet, choose low-fat dairy products and lean meats as often as possible. Choose from:

Low Fat Dairy Products (serving contains between 75 and 120 calories)

  • Buttermilk (1-cup)
  • Cheese, regular or reduced-fat (1-ounce)
  • Milk, low fat or skim (1-cup)
  • Mozzarella, part-skim (1-ounce)
  • Parmesan, grated (2-tablespoons)
  • Ricotta, part-skim (1-ounce)
  • Yogurt, low-fat or non-fat (1-cup)

Meat, Poultry and Fish (serving of lean protein contains 55 to 75 calories)

  • Beef, round, sirloin, flank, and tenderloin (1-ounce)
  • Chicken (skinless), turkey, Cornish hen or game such as venison, or skinless duck (1-ounce)
  • Cold cuts, reduced fat (1-ounce)
  • Egg (1)
  • Egg whites (3)
  • Fish, fresh (1-ounce)
  • Lamb chops, leg or roast, trimmed (1-ounce)
  • Pork tenderloin, loin, fresh ham, cured or boiled ham, Canadian bacon (1-ounce)
  • Shellfish such as shrimp, crab, lobster, scallops or clams (2-ounces)
  • Tofu (4-ounces)
  • Tuna or salmon, canned in water or oil (1/4-cup)
  • Veal chops or roasts, trimmed (1-ounce)

Fats (serving of fat contains about 45 calories)

  • Avocado (1/8)
  • Butter or margarine (1-teaspoon)
  • Cream cheese (1-tablespoon)
  • Mayonnaise (1-teaspoon)
  • Mayonnaise, low-fat (1-tablespoon)
  • Nuts, chopped (1-tablespoon)
  • Peanut butter or other nut butter (1-teaspoon)
  • Salad dressing, bottled or oil/vinegar (1-tablespoon)
  • Vegetable oil (1-teaspoon)

Calorie Crash Course

The energy stored in food is measured in terms of calories.

Technically, one calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water, 1 degree centigrade.

The calorie measure used commonly to discuss the energy content of food is actually a kilocalorie or 1000 real Calories (note the capital C). This is the amount of energy required to raise 1 kilogram of water (about 2.2 pounds) 1 degree centigrade. So, while a can of Jolt Cola has 150 Calories, it also has 150,000 calories. Try telling someone you ate 3 million calories worth of food yesterday, and see what happens!

Different foods contain different amounts of energy, which is why a small piece of chocolate can have many more calories than a similarly sized piece of lettuce. The caloric energy in what we eat comes from the fat, carbohydrates, and protein levels in foods. Each gram of fat provides 9 Calories, and each gram of carbohydrates and protein contribute 4 Calories. So, if you were to drink a bottle of Snapple, which contains about 58 grams of carbohydrates, you would get about 232 Calories.

However, since calories are a measure of energy, there cannot be, as some diet books claim, different types of calories. A fat calorie has the same amount of energy as a protein or carbohydrate calorie.

A person’s caloric need is determined using a variety of mathematical equations. Age, height, current weight, and desired weight are taken into account. Diet is what you eat. Dieting usually refers to eating fewer calories to lose weight.

Function of calories:

The amount of calories in a diet refers to how much energy the diet can provide for the body. A well-balanced diet is one that delivers an adequate amount of calories while providing the maximum amount of nutrients.

The body breaks down food molecules to release the energy stored within them. This energy is needed for vital functions like movement, thought, growth — anything that you do requires the use of fuel. The body stores energy it does not need in the form of fat cells for future use.

The process of breaking down food for use as energy is called metabolism. Increased activity results in increased metabolism as the body needs more fuel. The opposite is also true. With decreased activity the body continues to store energy in fat and does not use it up. Therefore, weight gain is the result of increased intake of food, decreased activity, or both. Nutrition labels on food packages indicate the number of calories contained in the food.

You may think that the most of the calories you need go towards all the movement you do all day, but that’s not true; the majority of the calories you get from food go to maintaining your body. Your body has what is called a Basal Metabolic Rate, which is the amount of calories your body needs just to keep going. In most people, about 60 percent of the calories you consume are used simply in keeping your body’s tissues maintained and body processes like your digestive and cardiovascular systems working.

Learn to Make Smart Calorie Choices

Get the most nutrition for the fewest calories from your fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy and protein diet choices.

Make Vegetable-Smart Calorie Choices

  • Shop for vegetables that are fresh, frozen or canned in water.
  • Use the Nutrition Facts label to check the calories and fat in vegetables prepared with butter or sauces.
  • Prepare dry beans and peas without added fats.

Make Fruit-Smart Calorie Choices

  • Shop for fruits that are fresh and/or frozen without added sugar or canned in water.
  • To reap the benefits of dietary fiber, choose whole or cut-up fruit most often.
  • Select fruit juices labeled as 100% fruit juice, such as orange juice or grapefruit juice.
  • Use the Nutrition Facts label to compare the calories in fruits canned in water, 100 percent fruit juice, light syrup and heavy syrup, and to check the serving size and calories for dried fruits.

Make Milk-Smart Calorie Choices

  • Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • When you shop, use the Nutrition Facts label to compare the amount of calories and fat in different types of milk and other dairy foods.
  • If your family usually drinks whole milk, try stepping down to reduced-fat (2 percent), then lowfat (1 percent) and finally fat-free milk.
  • Stock a few cans of evaporated fat-free milk to use in coffee and to replace cream in recipes.
  • For a sweet treat, try lighter ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Make Protein-Smart Calorie Choices

  • Trim away visible fat from meat before cooking and remove poultry skin.
  • Bake, broil or grill meat, poultry and fish.
  • Drain off any fat that appears during cooking.
  • Bake breaded meat, poultry and fish instead of frying.
  • Flavor your meat, poultry and fish with herbs or use lowfat sauces.
  • Prepare dry beans and peas without added fats.