As Few As 100 Calories A Day Affects Weight Gain Or Loss

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  3/15/2006 4:33:38 AM

News You Can Use For March 2006

Many people likely think that excessive eating and zero exercise are the sole culprits for weight gain. The reality is that as few as 100 calories a day can make a major difference in weight gain or loss, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

Americans already are gaining 2 pounds a year, according to the University of California Wellness Letter. If you do the math, that converts into an average of just 19 extra calories per day. (One pound equals 3,500 calories. Multiply that by 2 for 7,000. Divide that by 365 days per year for 19.17.)

"Chances are you won’t keep track of 19 calories, but if you think in terms of 100 extra calories a day, you will gain 1 pound per month or 10 pounds a year," Reames points out.

To make a change in your intake that equals 100 calories, the nutritionist recommends several substitutes:

– Water-packed tuna instead of oil-packed.

– 1 cup of whole-grain cereal instead of two.

– Tomato slices, lettuces leaves and pepper strips on a sandwich instead of mayo.

– 2 cups of skim milk per day instead of 2 cups of whole milk.

– 1 cup of low-fat, sugar-free yogurt instead of a doughnut.

– 1cup of water flavored with a lemon instead of a soft drink.

In addition to making small changes in food choices, increase activity by walking 15 minutes a day or climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator or other options.

Research shows that Americans consumed more calories over the past 30 years. A study from the Centers for Disease Control looked at dietary survey information from 1971 to 2000 to learn more about Americans' eating habits. The study found that women increased their caloric intake by 22 percent and men by 7 percent during that time. During those years obesity increased from 14.5 percent to 30.9 percent.

The study reported that energy (calorie) intake increased, the percentage of calories from carbohydrate increased and the percentage of calories from total fat and saturated fat decreased.

Carbohydrate intake increased, with a 62.4-gram increase among women and a 67.7-gram increase among men. Total fat intake in grams increased among women by 6.5 grams and decreased among men by 5.3 grams.

USDA survey data suggest that factors contributing to the increase in energy intake in the United States include consumption of food away from home; increased energy consumption from salty snacks, soft drinks and pizza; and increased portion sizes.

The Centers for Disease Control analyzed data from four National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

The LSU AgCenter offers a healthy weight program called Portions,which provides information on nutrition, physical activity and eating habits to help people adopt healthier lifestyles. The program was developed by a team of LSU AgCenter extension agents and registered dietitians.

For additional information about Portions, contact the extension agent in your parish. For related nutrition information, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter home page, at


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: 

Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929, or

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