What’s a portion, anyway?


Does that pizza seem to be fairly good, calorie-wise? Make sure you check the ‘serving size’. One sneaky trick sometimes used by manufactures is to label their box with a size different from what we may consider a ‘normal’ portion – only half of a ‘personal pizza’, for example.

Yet another reason to check the back of the box!


Quicktip: record your meals before eating them


If you use a diet planner or a food diary, enter your meals before you eat.

It’s too easy to spoon on another helping of mash potato, only to discover that you’ve gone over your calorie / carb limit for the day.

What a waste – and for such little extra enjoyment.

If you enter your planned meal into your food diary you can see the warnings before you exceed your targets – and take corrective action.

Disaster averted!

Thirty 100 kcal snack ideas you’ve probably not tried yet

A great resource, this. Fitbie have put together thirty ideas for quick snacks (more like mini-meals, actually) that clock in under 100 calories. As that implies, they are more suited to those on a low-cal rather than a low-carb diet. There are some brilliant ideas, some of which are a little more inspiring that the standard offering, like these celery, peanut butter and cranberry sticks above.

Admittedly, evil rice cakes are on the list. You can’t have everything.

Earn your Easter Egg

It’s coming.

After Christmas, Easter was always one of my favourite excuses to devour as much chocolate as I could physically cram into my body.

So thanks today to Nutracheck, who have worked out the effort you need to exert to compensate for those goodies. Does a Creme Egg, which they’ve generously given as 4 minutes of enjoyment, feel worth the 17 minute run you’ll need to take to burn those calories?

Egg Calorie content Time to burn at moderate walk Fastest way to burn
 Mini Egg Easter Egg + 1 bag Mini Eggs 780 cals 3 hours 31 mins 1 hour 10 mins vigorous cycling
 Maltesers Easter Egg + 3 x snack size bags 820 cals 3 hours 41 mins 1 hour circuit training + 1 hour Zumba
 Kit Kat Chunky Egg + 1 Kit Kat chunky 836 cals 3 hours 46 mins 1 hour front crawl + 28 mins running at 6mph
 Mars Easter Egg + 2 x snack size bars 894 cals 4 hours 2 mins 1 hour vigorous cycling + 26 mins front crawl

Read more – and hopefully renforce your good intentions – here.

How many calories are there in your salad?

Portion Sizes: Calories In Salad Ingredients

Salads. Nothing healthier, right?
Well, that depends. The problem isn’t in the green bits – they’re usually great. But what about the toppings? Can you guess how many calories or carbs there are in the cheese or dressing? Huffington Post has a slideshow with some examples and I have to admit I was wrong on quite a number. Take a look!
Huffington Post: Portion Sizes: Calories In Salad Ingredients.

Calories are wrong

Foods such as muesli contain more calories than dieters think, because current labels do not take into account the calories in fibre. Photograph: Corbis

In an article
as part of its series on Obesity, the Guardian has reported that calories are counted incorrectly.

Meanwhile the system overestimates, by up to 20%, the content of some protein-rich foods such as tuna steak that can take more energy to digest than simple carbohydrates such as white bread.

When the calorie was first agreed in 1824 it was a unit of heat, not energy. The amount of calories in a food is calculated by burning it. That’s a poor approximation of how food is digested in the gut. Dense, hard-to-digest foods are therefore shown as having a higher Calorie value than the body can reasonably claim from the food – and the reverse is true for easy-to-access energy like carbohydrates.

This, of course, is not a new realisation. The calorie has been replaced in science for decades. The unit we should use is the joule, as adopted in Australia, New Zealand and most of the non-English speaking world.

What does this mean for dieters? It’s another reason to show that “calories in < calories out”, or the idea that slimming is easiest when just thought of as reducing your calorie intake, is too simplistic for the real world. Reducing your carbohydrate intake and increasing the amount of vegetables you eat fits well with these findings.

Read more: The Guardian: Food labelling underestimating calorie content of some foods, scientists say