Monday, February 4, 2008

When Calories Do -- and Don't -- Count

When Calories Do -- and Don't -- Count

Americans have a love-hate affair with calories. At any given moment, more than 4 out of 10 of us say we’re on a diet, yet we are gobbling 300 calories more each day, on average, than we did 20 years ago. And calorie counts sometimes dominate our lives: We choose workouts based on how many calories they burn, shop for calorie bargains at the grocery store, and blame holiday calories for our widening waistlines. But do we really understand when calories do -- and don’t -- put on pounds? Take this true/false test and see how you score.

1. True or False: Women trying to lose weight should eat no fewer than 1,200 calories a day.
True. It’s the lowest, yet still safe, calorie level for weight loss, says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman’s Diet.

2. True or False: Most people have a pretty accurate idea of how many calories they consume.
False. People typically underestimate how much they eat -- sometimes by up to 700 calories a day. “But most of us tend to be off by about a third,” Somer says.

3. True or False: Excess calories go straight to your hips.
False. They go straight to wherever your genes tell them to.

4. True or False: Fat calories pack on pounds faster than carb calories.
True, if the calories are excess calories -- that is, more than your body needs.
5. True or False: Calories eaten at night are more fattening than calories consumed during the day.
False. Calories eaten at night aren’t any more fattening -- but they are more tempting.

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