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Dissecting Lunch: How Many Calories Are in That?

Dissecting Lunch: How Many Calories Are in That?

I like to eat. I like to eat well. I particularly like to eat well in restaurants.

I try to limit meals out, but especially since I’ve started working from home, it’s difficult. Now a cheap lunch at the local Chinese or Mexican place has become a way for me to actually see people. 5e drow names

When I’m focused,

I’m able to make sensible food purchases. For example, there’s a little Mexican place a couple of miles away that serves $2 tacos. For two bucks, you get two small corn tortillas topped with meat and veggies.

I’ve always assumed these tacos were relatively low calories, and so have purchased three orders at a time. (For a total of six tortillas and three mounds of meat.) But are they really low-calorie?

Yesterday, I re-started the Body for Life program. As part of that, participants are encouraged to eat six small meals a day, consuming one portion of protein and one portion of carbohydrate at each meal. (A portion is between the size of your palm and the size of your closed fist, which seems rather vague.)

Yesterday, I also craved tacos. “Hm,” I thought. “Tortillas are carbohydrates. Meat is a protein. Maybe these are okay on the Body for the Life meal plan.” I made a quick trip to the Mexican place to find out. I ordered my food to go, brought it home, and then dissected it.

Turns out each 12-centimeter (4-1/2 inches) tortilla weighs about 20 grams (3/4 of an ounce). Because there are two per taco, that’s 40 grams of carbohydrates. But how many calories are in those 40 grams? I checked our fridge. We had a bag of corn tortillas that contained about 2 calories per gram. This seemed about right.

Each taco also contains about 40 grams of filling, some of which are vegetables, but most of which are meat. An ounce (28g) of lean protein contains 55 calories, which is again about two calories per gram.

As a rough estimate, it seems fair to assume that my tacos each contain about two calories per gram. Since each taco was roughly 80 grams, they each provided about 160 calories.

What does this tell me?

First of all, I can figure out how many calories are in my favorite restaurant foods. That Grandma Jean’s pasta I mentioned last week? If I really want to know how many calories are in it, I could place a to-go order and bring it home. (It’s difficult to account for oils, of course, but I’m mainly after rough approximations.)

Secondly — and most importantly, in this case — I can have these tacos on the Body for Life plan, but I should only be ordering two tacos at a time, not three. A 480-calorie lunch is too high right now, especially if I’m eating six meals a day.

Does anyone else ever do geeky stuff like this? Some of the most fun I’ve ever had while dieting has come from being anal-retentive about measuring my portions on a kitchen scale. Strange, but true. I find that knowing the calorie contents of various foods, and knowing portion sizes, helps me to make better choices. (At least when I’m eating mindfully, that is.)

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