What Does 300 Calories Look Like?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  294 comments   :  148,903 Views

Quality and quantity often face off in the battle of the bulge.

Do you choose the smaller, more calorie-dense meal or the larger, less calorie-dense meal?

Do you splurge on a cupcake or stick with your snack of yogurt, granola and berries?

What if we told you that you didn't have to choose? You can have it all--a filling, healthy meal--for only 300 calories! Read on to find out how choosing healthier, more nutritious foods--at home and away--means you can eat much more food and still lose weight.

Wonder what 300 calories looks like? 300 calories look drastically different when you're eating in instead of dining out. Check out these 18 meal comparisons to see for yourself, then share this post with your friends on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter!

Breakfast: 300-Calorie Meals & Portions
Here are three morning meals that each weigh in at 300 calories. Healthy and quick homemade meals (left column) pack whole grains, fresh fruit, and protein--a filling combination that will keep you fuller longer. You could only eat a fraction of the comparable restaurant meals (right column) for the same number of calories. Get more healthy breakfast ideas here.

Lunch: 350-Calorie Meals & Portions
These midday meals contain 350 calories each--the perfect amount to keep you going without wrecking your diet. Packing one of the homemade lunches on the left doesn't take long, and look at all those low- cal and filling veggies you'll get! Notice how seemingly healthy options like the restaurant foods on the right can be very misleading! Those 350-calorie portions are pretty small. Pack a healthier lunch with these tips.

Dinner: 400-Calorie Meals & Portions
Many people consume a larger meal at night, so we picked 400-calorie dinners here. By combining whole grains with lean protein and vegetables, these homemade dinners (left column) are a snap to prepare--and they'll keep the late-night munchies at bay! In contrast, the high-fat and high-calorie meals on the right don't offer much in the way of nutrition or volume. Get thousands of healthy dinner ideas at SparkRecipes.com!

The bottom line is that you can eat more and lose weight when you know how to pick the right foods and the right portions. Use the images and portions above as a guide to create your own healthy, diet-friendly and nutritious meals every day!

Are you surprised by how much (or little) you can eat for the calories, depending on which foods you choose? Which meal was most shocking to you?

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  • 294
    Great comparison, Thanks! - 1/12/2018   10:23:38 PM
  • 293
    A great visual! - 12/28/2017   8:32:55 AM
  • 292
    Amazing! - 8/27/2017   10:44:44 PM
  • 291
    Wow! Glad I cut out most processed foods. Thank you Spark recipes! - 8/6/2017   9:16:37 AM
    Amazing. - 6/30/2017   7:57:37 AM
  • 1PMARIE1
    The "fun" of eating a meal out lies in having someone else doing the work for me. And the compromise is in having to monitor every choice that someone makes for me. As long as I treat myself like royalt - 5/4/2017   4:14:04 PM
  • 288
    Eye opening! And reinforces to me the need to weigh and measure. - 4/14/2017   7:03:17 AM
    Portion size can really do you in. When I eat out I almost always have left overs b/c I cut my meals in half. Seeing these pictures is great. - 5/18/2016   11:31:09 AM
  • 286
    Love this article! I never knew those "healthy looking" pot pies I love equals 2/3 of my daily calorie intake. - 10/23/2015   11:25:14 AM
    I love the concept of this article. I was using some of these examples (giving credit, of course) when working with clients. I am disappointed though, because the nutritional information on the fastfood and pre-packed food is NOT accurate. For example:
    IHop meal is actually: Entire Portion 1260 Calories, 90g Fat.
    The Panera sandwhich and a bowl of soup is actually: Entire Portion 1080 Calories, 51g Fat.
    The Marie Chicken Pot Pie is actually: Entire Portion 760 Calories not 1060. PLEASE have someone reviews these and make them accurate. It is frustrating if you are trying to make a point and use this as a reference. Thank you!
    - 4/16/2015   12:09:00 PM
  • 284
    Some of these I would do - but the lean cusines and other frozen meals like that are so bad...completely processed and full of sodium.... - 2/16/2015   6:38:21 AM
  • SHUDSON103
    This is a great article however a 2015 version would be amazing! Please make an updated version!!! - 2/15/2015   5:06:21 PM
    First of all, this is an OLD article. Second of all, it *is* helpful in terms of the idea of portion distortion. HOWEVER: the "healthy" options really aren't all that healthy (fat free cream cheese + a bagel + fruit for breakfast? No protein, no fat?? I'd be hungry and tired after the blood sugar spike was gone) - I could go on about the processed foods and lots (& lots) of carbs in the "healthy" options. Next, the calorie count of the total healthy meals is VERY low, frankly in the starvation range. This is NOT helpful. Many of us, if not most of us SparkPeople are exercising -- some of us, a lot. We need more protein, more veggies, fewer empty carbs (that bagel!). ugh. This site REALLY needs to up its game in terms of current nutritional information. Thanks! - 1/9/2015   1:35:57 PM
    This is a great article! Thanks so very much:)
    - 1/7/2015   2:15:41 AM
    Good info. I too was eating whatever I wanted until I became more aware of my portions thanks to SparkPeople. - 6/18/2014   3:46:03 PM
  • 279
    This article is accurate and very helpful , and I am glad I read it. We are portion challenged ( guess that is the words I will choose to use today for this) and we so need to learn about what is correct and helpful to acquire some education on that. - 2/6/2014   5:42:59 PM
  • 278
    These photos just prove to me how much we don't know about calorie content in food. No wonder we have an obesity epidemic in America. And the least educated will be the most affected. Spark People is a great place to learn about food and it's contents. I learn something new (not just about food) on SP every day. This place is awesome!!! - 12/10/2013   1:55:18 PM
  • 277
    I used to eat food like on the right column, it is pretty eye opening when you compare the differences. Especially I used to eat microwaveable meals, but I know that sodium is ridiculous. Thanks for the article! - 11/19/2013   4:36:09 PM
  • 276
    This article is very helpful. So many times I've eaten out and selected what I thought was a healthier choice only to find out I was eating a days worth of calories in one meal. - 10/30/2013   10:00:23 AM
  • 275
    Wow...just WOW! This article is a keeper. Thank you! - 6/16/2013   4:17:38 AM
  • 274
    I have been with Spark for three years and this is my favorite article. A picture is worth a thousand words. I think the meals were comparable to one another. I also like the ideas for meals given here. However, I would have like the breakdown of the meals including the amount of protein, fiber, sodium, etc. Overall I liked the article and will use the information. - 5/28/2013   1:19:25 PM
  • 273
    Whoa, this is craziness! Thanks for this info! - 5/23/2013   7:18:11 PM
  • 272
    this is awesome! - 5/23/2013   7:08:06 PM
  • 271
    I need to put this on my fridge! I am not that great at home cooking, but boy oh boy, these pics make me want to step up my cooking skills! - 4/30/2013   10:03:27 PM
  • 270
    Proof POSITIVE that there is something to be said about home cooking vs restaurant meals. Still, very disheartening for those of us that have been in denial for so long. No more. Starting today I have a whole new outlook with a whole new purpose, and now with SparkPeople to help me on the way! - 4/30/2013   7:06:19 PM
    This is startling if not surprising....good to look at for sure!!! - 4/27/2013   9:47:39 PM
  • 268
    This really puts things into perspective! Eat smart, eat healthy! - 4/27/2013   11:13:25 AM
  • 267
    Good reference!
    - 4/26/2013   2:52:45 PM
  • 266
    Oh my gosh - this really puts things into perspective, espeically the Panera sandwich. That's one of my favorites! Guess it's time to find the healthier make-at-home version! - 4/26/2013   1:28:05 PM
  • 265
    SAKS2011, that is the calories for the *stuffed* pizza slice. Not a regular slice of pizza there.
    I think I'd faint if I only ate the 1050 calories that is listed here totaling the three meals. Even adding in snacks. I exercise too much to go so low. These portions are tiny! - 4/26/2013   8:48:55 AM
  • 264
    Thank you, the photos are an excellent reminder for me! - 4/26/2013   7:14:31 AM
  • 263
    THANK YOU FOR POSTING OLD ARTICLES! It is good to have reminders of good information. - 4/26/2013   12:04:13 AM
  • 262
    PLEASE STOP re-posting OLD articles or let us get POINTS if you are going to repost them!!! - 4/25/2013   10:31:37 PM
  • 261
    This is one of the best reports you have featured, Bravo!!! Some women's magazines have been showing the same thing, and Diabetic magazines have too, great report!!! - 4/25/2013   10:14:32 PM
    This was very motivating to me. Sometimes I am frustrated when I feel I can't eat what I want --looking at these, the healthier, low cal meals look just as good or better than the restaurant. Just points out you don't have to be "deprived"--eating healthier can be just as yummy. - 4/25/2013   10:00:09 PM
  • 259
    Very motivating article. What a great incentive to eat at home where you have more control over what is in your food. I love to eat out and hate cooking, but articles like this remind me why it is so important. - 4/25/2013   5:54:59 PM
  • 258
    OMG!!!!!! when at the airport after TSA, during meal time, i always ate a slice of sbarro pizza. i know pizza is bad, but, didnt realize its almost 1000 cal for one single slice!!! holy cow.... - 4/25/2013   5:14:36 PM
  • 257
    I agree LEESAAB! - 4/25/2013   5:03:20 PM
  • 256
    As someone who enjoys eating, I really love posts like this. - 4/25/2013   4:29:30 PM
  • 255
    I like this, but I feel like you cheated by picking a lot of really unhealthy options to represent the restaurant meals, while sticking with only healthy options for the home cooked meals. It would be more useful if you had compared apples to apples, or healthy-appearing home-cooked meals with healthy-appearing restaurant meals. - 4/25/2013   4:16:30 PM
  • 254
    wow, great to know! thanks! - 4/25/2013   4:13:04 PM
  • 253
    Wonderful article. It keeps me on task. - 4/25/2013   4:06:34 PM
    I like the premise of this article. However for those of us who are trying to meet macro goals, it would be helpful if you listed the nutritional contents of the home-made meals. Thanks! - 4/25/2013   3:44:44 PM
  • 251
    It's great to see this and be reminded that eating healthy does not mean you have to starve yourself. Look at how much delicious food those "light" plates have! - 4/25/2013   3:22:34 PM
  • 250
    While the message of the article is well meant, I notice that the staging of the meals is used to make the differences seem larger. In some cases (the omelette, hotcakes and pizza particularly), if you were to display the higher calorie meal portion in the same way as the lower calorie one (each slice/piece clearly separated), they would look much more similar in volume. Of course, the restaurant images are only fractions of what would be served as a "full portion", so you always need to be mindful when going out to eat! - 4/25/2013   2:51:44 PM
  • 249
    Dang, I am amazed at the calorie differences! - 4/25/2013   2:09:14 PM
    I was shocked by the chicken takeaway, the soup portion and the pasta meal.
    OOOh I need real help here - I eat PERFECTLY except it is that portion control that's wrecking it all!Not perfect then................ - 4/25/2013   2:00:08 PM
    Just love this - those look like what I eat everyday :) I am on the right track - Sometimes , I feel like I am cheating eating all that wonderful food - Thanks for making feel and look good !! LiL Racer - 4/25/2013   12:37:09 PM
  • 246
    Thanks! A real eye opener... - 4/3/2013   8:56:49 AM
  • 245
    I am SO glad I read this! This is not only incredible and eye-opening but the "eating at home" foods are affordable to keep on hand! I pinned this to my fitness board!! Thanks!! - 3/27/2013   8:36:31 PM

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