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Servings and Choices

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, and Paula Cutler, BS.

Calories In Versus Calories Expended

Food provides the energy necessary for our daily activities. However, it is important to balance the energy taken in through food with the energy spent through physical activity and metabolism. In other words, to maintain a constant weight, Calorie intake must match Calorie expenditures. When too many Calories are taken in, the excess energy is stored as fat. When fewer Calories are taken in than are expended, stored fat is “burned” (metabolized) to make up the energy difference.

Ways to decrease Calorie intake include paying attention to portion sizes and avoiding “super-sized” portions; avoiding sweetened soft drinks and juices; and eating fewer high fat or greasy foods, such as fried foods, cakes, cookies and snack crackers. Substituting whole grain breads, whole grain cereals, fruits, and vegetables for snacks and high fat/high sugar foods is an effective way to improve nutrition and reduce total Calorie intake.

Students can compare their daily Calorie totals to the standard BMRs and activity levels they calculated in Activity 3, or they can calculate their own BMRs and activity levels to determine their actual Calorie needs. Conclude the activity by asking students to think of ways in which they could improve their eating habits. Discuss changes they could make in their daily activities and in the amounts and types of foods they eat each day. 

Students should save their lists for further use with the activity, "Your Nutritional Needs."


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.