Our last post clearly illustrates the importance of paying very close attention to “serving size.” The nutritional information on the side of a package doesn’t necessarily equal the total amount of food or drink. It relates to one serving. For example, I just pulled out of my pantry a bag of pretzels. To be specific, they are Trader Joe’s Low Fat Honey Whole Wheat Pretzel Sticks. The nutrition label says “Calories 110.” Don’t be fooled to think there are a total of 110 calories in the bag, because the information applies to each serving. The label says each serving size is 10 sticks and there are 12 servings in the bag. In other words, every 10 sticks (not the whole bag) equal 110 calories.
Don’t let serving sizes trick you. A box of twelve fat-free cookies might say 50 calories per serving. That doesn’t sound too bad until you see that serving size is only one cookie. That means each cookie is 50 calories, which can add up fast.
Serving sizes, as well as calories and fat, is part of why fast food has a deservedly bad rap. When you super-size it, you super-size the calories and fat. You just don’t need it and it really isn’t good enough to be worth it. When you are going to allow yourself something that is high in calories or fat, make sure it is an exceptionally wonderful food or drink, not just an extra fistful of French fries.
How many calories your body needs to be active varies, of course, from person to person. It depends on such things as your normal level of activity and your metabolism. A truck driver will generally need fewer calories than a construction laborer, if they both have similar bodies.
It is all about calorie in, calorie out. If you take in more than you need, without burning them off, you will gain weight. You’ll lose weight if you burn off more than you need, without overdoing it. More on this in our next post! — Jim Ballard