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Discretionary Calories Defined in Detail
Including Examples for Your Diet Plan

Article by Diet Bites

What are discretionary calories?

Our body requires basic nutritional needs to property function, and to maintain good health; it requires calories to get us there. We may decide to grab a few raw carrots to supply a serving of vegetables OR we may opt for candied carrots.

Now, it doesn't take a Diet Genius to recognize that the candied carrots blow the lid off the skinny calories contained in the raw carrots, which lead us to the issue of 'discretionary calories'.

So what are discretionary calories?

How many discretionary calories can I enjoy per day? What are my best choices? What about discretionary calories while dieting?

To better understand discretionary calories, let's go shopping for shoes!

To decide the style of shoes that we need, we must first define their purpose. Will these shoes be used for walking, running and performing exercise? Will these shoes be used for business purposes?

Will these shoes be used for dancing? Bowling? Golfing? Track? Oh dear....so many shoes, so many choices, and our budget is at a set limit - just like our daily calorie intake.

Too few calories, and the body will suffer.

With a controlled reduction in calories, the body can achieve healthy weight loss when applicable.

With too many calories, weight gain ensues.

So we'll begin to fill our shoe-needs with the basic requirements, just as we fill our basic daily nutrient needs. We need a pair of shoes that will fair well during sport's activity, and we'll want them to be comfortable, and flat unless we are participating in a specialized sport.

We also need a pair of shoes that we can wear to work. And a pair of shoes for church and social occasions that will compliment our current wardrobe. We alsoneed to purchase a pair of shoes to wear in the house - something very comfortable.

And we need a pair of weatherproof shoes as well, for those times when we must walk in the weather and when we don't wish to harm our nice selection of shoes. There! We have it!

A collection of shoes that will fit our basic needs - but wait! What is this? Why, we have some money left in our shoe budget to spare.

Oh goody....just enough to buy the awesome red shoes with the sparkles, and they happen to be on sale. Why, we're goingto look just like Dorothy in Oz!

Discretionary Calories are those awesome red shoes with the sparkles, while the basic shoe needs mirror our basic nutritional requirements.

But how we allocate those discretionary calories influences our calorie intake greatly.

Our activity level also plays a big part in determining how many discretionary calories we can add to our daily diet.

Take note that the following discretionary calorie allowances are part of the total calorie needs,not an addition to total calorie needs.

For example, if Jet's daily calorie requirement equals 2,000 calories and her estimated discretionary calorie allowance equals 265 calories, it means that Jet should consume at least 1,735 calories from the basic food groups to meet nutritional needs, and no more than 265 discretionary calories for a total of 2,000 daily calories.

Any excess calories consumed gets deposited into the fat cells.

DISCRETIONARY CALORIE ALLOWANCES BASED ON AGE, GENDER, ACTIVITY LEVEL & DAILY CALORIE NEEDS

Inactive Individuals: Less than hour of moderate physical activity performed on most days.

Estimated Daily Calorie Needs Based on Age, Gender

Children 2-3 years old = 1,000 kcals, 165 discretionary kcals
Children 4-8 years old = 1,200 to 1,400 kcals, 170 discretionary kcals
Girls 9-13 years old = 1,600 kcals, Discretionary kcals = 130
Boys 9-13 years old = 1,800 kcals, Discretionary kcals = 195
Girls 14-18 years old = 1,800 kcals, Discretionary kcals = 195
Boys 14-18 years old = 2,200 kcals, Discretionary kcals = 290
Females 19-30 years old = 2,000 kcals, Discretionary kcals = 265
Males 19-30 years old = 2,400 kcals, Discretionary kcals = 360
Females 31-50 years old = 1,800 kcals, Discretionary kcals = 195
Males 31-50 years old = 2,200 kcals, Discretionary kcals = 290
Females 51+ years old = 1,600 kcals, Discretionary kcals = 130
Males 51+ years old = 2,000 kcals, Discretionary kcals = 265

Active Individuals: to 1 hour of moderate physical activity performed on most days.

Estimated Daily Calorie Needs Based on Age, Gender

Children 2-3 years old = 1,000 - 1,400 kcals, 165 to 170 discretionary
Children 4-8 years old = 1,400 to 1,800 kcals, 170 to 195 discretionary
Girls 9-13 years old = 1,600 to 2,200 kcals, Discretionary = 130 to 290
Boys 9-13 years old = 1,800 to 2,600 kcals, Discretionary = 195 to 410
Girls14-18 years old = 2,000-2,400 kcals, Discretionary = 265 to 360
Boys 14-18 years old = 2,400-3,200 kcals, Discretionary = 360 to 650
Females 19-30 years old = 2,000-2,400 kcals, Discretionary = 265 to 360
Males 19-30 years old = 2,600-3,000 kcals, Discretionary = 410 to 510
Females 31-50 years old = 2,000-2,200 kcals, Discretionary = 265 to 290
Males 31-50 years old = 2,400-3,000 kcals, Discretionary = 360 to 510
Females 51+ years old = 1,800-2,000 kcals, Discretionary = 195 to 290
Males 51+ years old = 2,200-2,800 kcals, Discretionary = 290 - 425

Examples of discretionary calories include calories in: candy, soda, beer & other alcoholic beverages and solid fat.

Although product labels detail serving sizes and amount, they are almost-always based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet, and by glancing at the Discretionary Calorie Chart above, we can quickly see that everyone requires a different amount of daily calorie needs.

Even the numbers above are simply examples, as no two individuals are created exactly alike.

Other factors play into our daily calorie needs - most importantly, height, body frame and muscle mass.

While Amber is a 30 year old female who requires 2,000 calories per day, her sister Becky who is 29 is petite and requires far fewer daily calories to meet her daily requirement needs.

Counting Discretionary Calories

The chart below provides an example to the number of discretionary calories in many common foods. Some foods make smarter discretionary calorie choices than others, but even when making wise foods choices, it's not difficult to exceed our daily discretionary calorie allowance.

Discretionary calories typically range from 100 calories to 300 calories per individual,the amount depending upon the personal composite of the individual. Many individuals exceed their discretionary calorie intake amid their morning meal, so caution must be exercised to prevent overspending of calories.

FOOD GROUP
SERVING SIZE
ESTIMATED TOTAL CALORIES
DISCRETIONARY CALORIES
MILK GROUP
Fat-free milk

1 cup

85

0 calories

1% milk

1 cup

100

20 calories

2% milk (reduced fat)

1 cup

125

40 calories

Whole milk

1 cup

145

65 calories

Low-fat chocolate milk

1 cup

160

75

Cheddar cheese

1 ounces

170

90

Nonfat mozzarella

1 ounces

65

0

Whole milk mozzarella

1 ounces

130

45

Fruit flavored low-fat yogurt

1 cup (8 fl oz.)

240 to 250

100 to 115

Frozen yogurt

1 cup

220

140

Ice cream, vanilla

1 cup

290

205

Cheese sauce

cup

120

75

MEAT AND BEANS GROUP

Extra lean ground beef, 95% lean

3 oz., cooked

165

0

Regular ground beef, 80% lean

3 oz., cooked

230

65

Turkey roll, light meat

3 slices (1 oz. each)

125

0

Roasted chicken breast (skinless)

3 oz.

140

0

Roasted chicken thigh with skin

3 oz.

210

70

Fried chicken with skin & batter

3 wings

475

335

Beef sausage, pre-cooked

3 oz., cooked

345

180

Pork sausage

3 oz., cooked

290

125

Beef bologna

3 slices (1 oz. each)

265

100

GRAINS
Whole wheat bread

1 slice (1 oz.)

70

0

White bread

1 slice (1 oz.)

70

0

English muffin

1 muffin

135

0

Blueberry muffin

1 small (2 oz.)

185

45

Croissant

1 med. (2 oz.)

230

95

Biscuit, plain

1-2.5 diameter

130

60

Cornbread

1 piece (2 x 2 x 1 )

190

50

Graham crackers

2 large pieces

120

50

Whole wheat crackers

5 crackers

90

20

Round snack crackers

7 crackers

105

35

Chocolate chip cookies

2 large

135

70

Cake-type doughnuts, plain

2 mini doughnuts, 1 diameter

120

50

Glazed doughnut, yeast type

1 medium, 3 diameter

240

165

Cinnamon sweet roll

1- 3 oz. roll

310

100

VEGETABLES
French fries

1 medium order

460

325

Onion rings

1 order (8 to 9 rings)

275

160

SUGARS, FATS, ALCOHOL, BEVERAGES
Regular soda pop

1 can (12 fluid ounces)

155

155

Regular soda pop

1-20 ounce bottle

260

260

Diet soda pop

1 can (12 fluid ounces)

5

5

Fruit punch

1 cup

115

115

Table wine

5 fluid ounces

115

115

Beer (regular)

12 fluid ounces

145

145

Beer (light)

12 fluid ounces

110

110

Distilled spirits (80 proof)

1 fluid ounces

95

95

Butter

1 teaspoon

35

35

Stick margarine

1 teaspoon

35

35

Cream cheese

1 tablespoon

50

50

Heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon

50

50

Dessert topping, frozen, semi-solid

1 tablespoon

15

15

Gravy, canned

cup

30

30

Discretionary calories amid weight loss.

Discretionary calories can still be a part of the weight loss equation. Except in individuals who opt to up their activity levels rather than amend their daily diet, a reduction in daily calorie intake is almost always used to generate weight loss.

Because daily calories are minimized, the dieter must be savvy in using their daily discretionary calories,particularly given that many foods used to fill this space contain significant sugars and fats, therefore are high in calories. Therefore, it is more important than ever to make very wise choices on discretionary calories while dieting.

When the calories involved in achieving daily nutritional needs are wisely spent, discretionary calories can allow the dieter to enjoy more foods from the vital official food groups; discretionary calories can also allow the dieter to enjoy higher calorie forms of foods such as sweetened yogurt, sweetened cereals, cheese and whole milk, salad dressings, butter and regular soda pop.

Therefore, spend wisely!

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