What does 100 calories look like?
Calories are a well known measure of the amount of energy in food. Keeping track of the number of calories in our food helps us to balance the energy we put into our bodies with the energy we use every day, leading to a healthy weight.
The images below will help you visualise what 100kcal looks like. Some of the photos also show household objects, such as a pack of cards, to help illustrate the portion size.
Cheese – Most cheese is high in fat, so for 100 calories you get just under a 30g matchbox-sized piece of Cheddar cheese.
Sugar – Calories can add up if not used sparingly, especially for people who drink tea or coffee with sugar throughout the day. Four heaped teaspoons of sugar is 100 calories.
Biscuits – Tend to be high in fat and sugar and low in nutrients, so just two ginger nut biscuits add up to 100 calories. Other biscuits may differ.
Crisps – Often high in fat and salt, and calories can quickly add up. For example, the 190g tube of crisps featured in this picture contains nearly 1,000 calories, so just 10% of a tube (nine crisps) equals 100 calories.
Bread – A thick slice of wholegrain bread is around 100 calories and is a nutritious choice. A plain bagel is more dense, so you’d get about half a bagel for 100 calories.
Meat and fish – The type of meat makes a big difference to the amount of energy you get. For example, you only get a few bites of steak for 100 calories. On the other hand, turkey and fish are both low in fat and lower in energy, you can get three slices of turkey or a pile of large prawns.
Dried fruit – The calories can add up quickly as the water has been removed, making it more dense. For 100 calories you’ll get just over a 30g portion of raisins, which counts as one of your five a day.
But for the same amount of energy, you could eat two larger portions of different fruits, such as 80g of grapes and 80g of cherries, which together add up to 100 calories and count as two of your five a day.
Fresh fruit – A healthy quick-win when it comes to counting calories. For 100 calories you can tuck into any of the following: a large apple; a banana; up to a punnet of strawberries; or one-and-a-half grapefruit. These count towards your five a day.
Vegetables – Generally contain the lowest number of calories, while bringing the added benefits of vitamins and minerals. 100 calories is equal to any of the following: three whole cucumbers; two heads of lettuce; or three carrots weighing around 120g each.
Always check the label
These descriptions and images are only a guide; all foods vary in energy content and this can depend on how they’re made or prepared, and on how much you eat. Most pre-packaged foods have a nutrition label, which will give you a guide to the content.
If you’re gaining weight, it usually means you’ve been eating and drinking more calories than you’ve been using through normal bodily functions and physical activity.
To lose weight you need to tip that balance in the other direction. You must use more energy than you consume, and do this over a sustained period of time.
You can do this by making healthy changes to your diet so you eat and drink fewer calories. If you find this difficult to do yourself, you could try using meal replacements as part of a low calorie diet. Alternatively you could use appetite suppressants to curb your cravings and calorie intake.
The best approach is to combine these diet changes with increased physical activity.