What Does 540 Calories Look Like?

By Tammy Parkinson
CPT, ACSM, NASM, Nutritionist
Body Firm Personal Training & Nutrition

Each month I get a newsletter from a company called "Health Watch".  Every now and then they pass on some information I find very useful, and I'd like to forward this on to you!
What's 540 Calories?
Here's a little perspective:
One McDonald's Big Mac contains 540 calories, 29 grams of fat, and more than 40 grams of highly-processed, blood-sugar-spiking carbohydrates.  And that doesn't even count the fries and soft drink that you KNOW you're going to order with it.
At the same rate, here are a few alternative food choices and amounts that will land you at the same 540 calories:
140 medium strawberries
5 medium bananas
1 QUART of plain Greek yogurt
14 oz of grilled chicken breast
17 cups of broccoli
6 and 1/2 cups of blueberries
Better yet, go ahead and eat ALL of this in one sitting:
4 oz of grilled chicken (120 cals)
3 cups of broccoli (90 cals)
1 medium banana (100 cals)
8 oz of plain Greek yogurt (130 cals)
10 medium strawberries (40 cals)
1/2 cup of blueberries (40 cals)
So basically, you have an OVERFLOWING plate of chicken and veggies and then a HUGE dessert of yogurt and fruit. I mean, that's a massive quantity of food right there. In fact, most people wouldn't even be able to finish it.
And guess what? It still contains fewer calories than ONE Big Mac and it's WAY healthier.
Adding on to Health Watch's spin...here are a few more "foods/meals" which add up to about 500 kcals

  • 2 small slices of pizza or 1 large slice of meat lover's pizza
  • 3 chicken wings dipped in 1/4 cup of ranch dressing
  • 20 oz big gulp
  • 20 oz mocha drink with whole milk
  • small margarita
  • 2 cosmos
  • 3 handfuls oil roasted nuts (small handfuls)
  • 2 big chocolate chip cookies

I can go on and on...but I think you get the drift.  We can load ourselves up with non-nutritious calories which give us lots of sugar, fat and salt...but no real nutrients; or we can eat an abundance of amazing nutritious foods which heal our bodies, give us energy, clean our minds and support out health.  You be the judge!  (note...not to say a little cookie here and there isn't fun....but note it's "here and there"!)
Enjoy your health ~!