A recent study in the US looked at what it takes to influence ordering habits.  Was knowing calorie counts helpful? Was knowing how much exercise was required to burn it off helpful? The studiers took a group of similarly hungry people and gave them one of three menus. One had no info, the second had calories and the third had the amount of time walking it would take to burn off the food.

Those who knew the walking effort ordered 100 fewer calories. So, what is at play here? Is it that our general human laziness is a powerful driver? Or are we aware that our time constraints may prevent us from being able to make the physical effort.

It doesn’t really matter, what is necessarily true here is that the preventative elements of nebulous calorie counts aren’t clear enough. We have known for some time that calories aren’t well understood and that each person’s intake and output will be different. We also know that there are other factors that affect metabolism.

Number of minutes walked is an easily understood marker that helps guide the right choice. So, I’m going to bully my top 10 list of foods that offer up too many useless calories. And publicly expose them for the time and effort suck that they are. Keep in mind that these numbers are in addition to the exercise you already get in your day.

“Food” and Estimated # of minutes of brisk walking

  • Starbucks Venti Mocha Frappacino w whipped cream – 510 calories or 94 minutes
  • Big Mac – 563 or 99 minutes
  • Burger King Medium Fries – 387 or 71 minutes
  • 7 oz sour cream and onion potato chips – 1051 or 192 minutes
  • Large shake 32 oz – 1104 or 202 minutes
  • Nachos w beef, cheese and beans (18 chips) – 1707 or 212 minutes
  • Onion Rings (16) – 552 or 101 minutes
  • Pizza Hut Meat lover’s stuffed crust pizza (1 slice) – 470 or 86 minutes per slice
  • Cinnabon caramel pecan (1 bun) – 1080 or 197 minutes
  • Chocolate Muffin – 450 or 82 minutes


Want to have a drink with that? Here’s a list of your best bets in booze…

Theresa Albert is an author and private, on call nutritionist in Toronto. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com