Estimating Calories in Food in Your
Sports Nutrition Plan
In your sports nutrition for women plan, estimating calories (also called energy or fuel), in food can be tracked using food labels, food groups or nutrient databases.
You can use the Nutrition Facts panel on a food label for estimating calories you eat. First check the serving size listed on the label, determine how many servings you actually ate, and multiply the number of servings eaten by the calories per serving. This will work for packaged foods, but produce and fresh meat packages are not required to list this information. Instead, you’ll have to estimate your calories based on food group averages or a nutrient database.
A rough way of estimating calories can be done by the average calorie content of a food group, keeping in mind that calories in foods within the same food group can vary greatly. Using this method is better than nothing (when a food does not have a food label with nutrition facts). Here is a list of calories by food group, serving size, and calories per serving that can be used to design a sports nutrition plan.
Grains, Starchy Vegetables (potatoes, peas, corn, winter squash)
1 cup of dry cereal, ½ cup cooked cereal/grains/starchy veg: 80 calories
1 small piece, ½ cup cooked, frozen, canned or juice: 60 calories
½ cup fresh, cooked or juice; 1 cup leafy greens: 25 calories
1 ounce lean/medium/high fat meat protein: 55, 75, or 100 calories
¼ cup cooked, ½ cup bean soup: 40 calories
Nuts and Seeds
½ ounce nuts, seeds or 1 Tablespoon nut butter: 90 calories
Milk and Yogurt
1 cup nonfat/lowfat/whole milk, yogurt: 90, 135, or 150 calories
Fats and Oils
1 teaspoon oil: 40 calories
1 Tbsp Salad Dressing, 1 Tbsp. trans-fat free margarine: 50-100 calories
If you are good at estimating portions and record keeping, and have extra time on your hands, using a computer-based nutrient database can provide specific details about your calorie and nutrition intake. There are some great free programs available for your use, or contact a Registered Dietitian or Sports Nutritionist for nutrition analysis services.
Learn more about resources for nutrient analysis in sports nutrition.
Should estimating calories be a sports nutrition goal?