Healthy Bites: Want to Know What 200 Calories Looks Like?

Kimberly Daly Farrell
by Kimberly Daly Farrell
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Healthy Bites: Want to Know What 200 Calories Looks Like?

You’ve probably heard that 200 calories is about right for a snack, but finding something that comes in at or just under that number isn’t always easy. Unless a food comes in a box or a bag with a handy nutrition label, knowing how many calories one serving can have could present a challenge—is that a large apple (110 calories) or a medium apple (90 calories)? And how much are you tacking on if you scoop out a tiny bit more than 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (188 calories)?

To get a better sense of portion sizes, WiseGeek created a smart series of photos showing exactly what 200 calories looks like for 71 different foods and put them in order from low-calorie to high-calorie density.

Why did they choose 200 calories? According to WiseGeek, “We could have chosen any amount of Calories for this project, but we wanted something that gave tangible volumes for the entire range of items. We felt that 100 Calories of butter or oil would have yielded diminutive portion sizes; on the other hand 500 Calories of celery would have been virtually incomprehensible.”

While the portion sizes are all perfectly relative to each other (the same photographic set up was used for each food shot), they didn’t factor in the nutritive value of each food item—peanut butter, for example, is loaded with protein and healthy fats. Still, the list is eye-opening, and it could help you make a better choice at your next meal or snack.

Do you consider nutrition when choosing the foods you eat? Or are calories the only thing you count? Tell us in the comments below!


Photos: WiseGeek

About the Author

Kimberly Daly Farrell
Kimberly Daly Farrell

Kimberly Daly Farrell is a contributor at MyFitnessPal. A certified health coach and self-proclaimed running addict, Kimberly studied integrative nutrition and has completed three marathons. She has previously held editorial positions at Shape, Glamour, Fitness, and Good Housekeeping magazines. You can follow Kimberly’s running adventures on her personal blog, Some Kind Of Runderful.


94 responses to “Healthy Bites: Want to Know What 200 Calories Looks Like?”

  1. Avatar Kristen Wagner says:

    Nutrition is important to me! If I’m not eating real whole food I’m still hungry because my body is craving the actual nutrients in the food. Junk food is just empty calories.

    • Avatar Maria says:

      I count calories. I think i started this behavior when i was in kindergarten. My mother was a calorie counter. I believe in the golden rule everything in moderation. Life’s to short to let what you eat rule your life. Make healthy choices. Splurge a little. Be good a lot and keep moving.

  2. Avatar Aaron Radford says:


  3. Avatar Haniyyah says:

    Protein, I always look out for protein! Especially since I gave up meat/poultry 2 years ago.

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  4. Avatar Locien says:

    Nutrition before anything else

  5. Avatar Joe90 says:

    Nutrition *is* important but we should not lose sight of *food*. Read ‘In Defense Of Food’ by Michael Pollan. This book describes how what we eat is now governed by industry, commercial interests, scientists and the government. He sums up his book by saying ‘Eat food. Not too much, and mostly plants’.

    • Avatar Nona says:

      I am gluten free- how does his book work into my diet? Since going gluten free a year ago, my health has greatly improved! My headaches/migraines have significantly decreased – from everyday for the past 50 ( yes 50 yrs) to a few headaches a week! That’s astronomical !!!! I’ve never been a binge an eater d/t my work- on the road a lot- it’s still quite difficult to eat gluten free. I do it b/c if I don’t, I get sick, plain and simple, so that’s a big incentive
      Eat only protein, fruits & vegetables- gee- healthily foods, like we should – no processed foods.

      • Avatar epickett says:

        But processed foods taste so GOOD… 🙁

        • Avatar Sue says:

          Not if you train your taste buds. 😉 Imagining what processed food is doing to our bodies takes the the taste right out. But veggies!!!! YUM!!!! Veggies and good protein meals stand on their own, and imagining a strong, pure body and immune system is even more incentive. It is possible – I loved cheese and sold it from my refrigerated case in my Natural Food Store over thirty years ago – BUT imagining my arteries shrinking in size due to the clogging fat decreased my appetite for cheese.
          So far, at 64 – no meds, no diseases (blessed be and thankful), and a general feeling of well being – unless I eat processed foods. Imagery worked for me. It might work for you.

          • Avatar epickett says:

            You must have a better imagination than I do, then…

          • Avatar Di says:

            Blessed be, a healthy body is a healthy mind

          • Avatar Lank says:

            Alas, a healthy body does not necessarily make a healthy mind. The two are separate phenomena, but are mutually supportive.

          • Avatar Lank says:

            There are some research studies which indicate that taking a shot glass (1.7 oz) of ppomegranate juice daily helps remove the fatty build up in blood vessels. Study results averaged a 13% decrease in fat deposits over three months, roughly 33% over a year. Maybe not perfect, but progress. I can live with it.

        • Avatar Hiptobesquare says:

          I could not disagree more. It’s usually oversalted, and I often pick up those chemical undertones that disguise the flavor of whatever it’s supposed to be. Fresh food tastes much better, but it might have something to do with what your palate is used to. As Sue says, you can train your tastebuds to respond more to fresh food just by eating more fresh food and learning to prepare fresh ingredients deliciously.

          • Avatar epickett says:

            So how do you do that efficiently enough? It’s MUCH easier for me throw in a microwave meal, and even easier to stop my McDonald’s on my way to work in the morning than is is for me to cook breakfast, sit down, and eat before I leave. That is my current struggle…

          • Avatar NewTummy says:

            I must admit I to was this way a bit .. i would skip breakfast or have something quick & easy. Now I make my balanced meals, put them in portion controlled containers in the freezer and take a few out at a time for lunch’s. Breakfast is a smoothy (takes a min to make) or some Yogert with granola on it and eat it as a snack mid morning. You just have to want to do it and then just Do it. Its really not rocket science. lol

      • Avatar Betty says:

        What does “eat protein” mean and why are people using it as another word for MEAT? Don’t people like saying MEAT anymore? Personally I don’t eat animals but don’t see anything wrong with doing so. I am vegan and yet I still manage to consume a lot of PROTEIN. Protein is not another word for MEAT. Please stop using it as such. Thank you.

  6. Avatar nursecathy says:

    Appreciate the “what does a 200-calorie snack look like?” But could you also give the weights in English measure? We don’t have an intuitive understanding of what 196 grams looks like.

  7. Avatar rosalina9877 says:

    I disagree with those that say all calories are not equal; I think they are. But if you eat high caloric foods like cookies, pizza, etc you won’t feel satisfied on 1200 a day because you won’t get much of those for 1200 calories.

    • Avatar nikkosan327 says:

      This is not entirely true. Not all calories are created equally. You have to keep you macronutrients balanced. 30 cal from protein vs 30 cal from fat vs 30 cal from carbs are all very different (not even taking portion size and hunger satisfaction into account). Your body needs X amount of each.

      • Avatar rosalina9877 says:

        That’s not what I meant. Of course your body needs nutrition. My point is that a calorie is a calorie. There are some major weight loss programs that say that 10 calories of fat is somehow more caloric than 10 calories of lean protein. I’ve stuck to 1400 calories a day of lean proteins and veggies, and I have eaten 1400 calories a day of fast food, and guess what I lost the same amount of weight.

        • Avatar Barbara says:

          Would it be true that your body continued to burn fat because you consumed predominately 1400 calories lean protein and veggies and occasional 1400 fast food? I believe if you ate a balance of both you would see very little weight loss, in addition if you consumed more fast food vs whole food overtime you may experience increased weight.

          • Avatar rosalina9877 says:

            No, I disagree. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie. It’s a numbers game, no matter which kind of calorie you eat. However, you can become malnourished and anemic if you don’t get the right vitamins, but for weight loss purposes all calories are equal.

          • Avatar Roxanna says:

            I agree

          • Avatar bree says:

            “For weight loss purposes all calories are equal”? Simply cutting back on calories doesn’t work consistently in the weight loss game. That’s why nutritionists set up food plans that involve eating more veggies and grains and fewer dense foods. But it has more to do with how your body is able to digest those foods. High-calorie foods are a lot harder to digest, stick around longer, and tend to make you feel sluggish (goodbye workout).

          • Avatar Dmiller says:

            A calorie does NOT equal a calorie. Do you believe 100 calories of a processed bag of cookies or doughnut equals 100 calories of broccoli or an apple? A calorie is a unit of
            measurement but it doesn’t measure weight or length. A calorie is a unit or measurement of energy. Food and beverages contain calories, and calories give us energy. So it is easy to understand why many people believe if you just limit your calories and move your body more, losing weight is just going to happen. In fact, many people believe it does not really matter what you east as long as you are not eating too many calories. This type of thinking is not going to get you far, and the results will be short term. Calories are important, but the quality of the food and beverages you consume comes first.

          • Avatar rosalina9877 says:

            Yeah well guess what. I’m proof a calorie is a calorie is a calorie because I eat what I want and lose weight. I just eat less of it. Nutritionally you are right but energy wise, wrong.

          • Avatar mads says:

            Jillian Michaels even says that you’re going to lose weight by burning more calories than you eat. Sure, the quality of food all plays a role in how you feel, and how long you stay full, but ultimately, if you burn more than you eat, you will lose weight. Eventually, that will tip off, and there will need to be more adjustments made. Whole, natural, organic, and unprocessed foods are always the best option, but a calorie is a calorie no matter where it came from. Nutrients, however, are a different story.

          • Avatar jude says:

            I know if I eat 1500 cal of crap and fat. I will gain weight .. If I eat proteins and healthy stuff I will lose.. So a calorie is not a calorie if you want to lose weight

          • Avatar rosalina9877 says:

            Wrong. You could eat 1200 cals a day of junk, and eat 1200 cals a day of nutritional food, and you would weigh the same. Protein has the same amount of cals per gram that carbs do. Granted, you would be lacking in vital nutrients, but you would be exactly the sameweight.

          • Avatar nc says:

            That’s not exactly true. Too much fat, sugar and processed food changes the way our body processes the food. You will eventually damage your metabolism with junk and will be fat on the same calories.

          • Avatar Orion Antares says:

            A calorie is not a calorie with how it interacts within the body. If you need examples of differences with how the body deals with different calorie sources you can look up the differences between cellular and acellular carbohydrates, different forms of fats, rabbit starvation (eating protein as your primary energy source), or you can look up the personal trials done by Smash the Fat chronically 3 different high calorie diets and what effects each had on his body.

          • Avatar Sharon says:

            I agree with you Rosalina, I ate 1300 calories a day and I have lost a good amount of weight I am also a manager for a fast good place and part of my calories came from there five days a week and my weight loss was consistent.

          • Avatar rosalina9877 says:

            Me too! I eat a delicious McDonald’s cheeseburger once a week. But that’s my meal. I used to eat a quarter pounder with cheese and fries too. But I have lost 15 lbs and I am happy because I am still eating what I want (but not as much). I am not saying that we do not need nutritional foods as well. For example, nuts have essential amino acids that we can only get from nuts, so I always eat some nuts each week as well.

  8. Avatar Bobc says:

    I think of the calories and the glycemic index, and also what else I have eaten today

  9. Avatar A.W. says:

    Where’s the
    71 photos?

    • Avatar Sheblazed says:

      I couldn’t find the photos either A.W. But going back through the article I found the line “what 200 calories looks like for 71 different foods” slightly darker, definitely not bold print. It is the link to the pictures. )

  10. Avatar Lionel says:

    We use English measurements in these United States of America, who cares how many grams a serving is? …and no I will not look it up or convert it.

  11. Avatar Aaron says:

    Damn you bagels, why are you so tasty …and full of calories!!

    • Avatar Hiptobesquare says:

      Check out the donut picture! That one made me sad–although the last donut I ate was last October….

  12. Avatar Catherine says:

    WiseGeek needs to show something (maybe a spoon) along side of food. Most of us do not know gams.

  13. Avatar Suzanne says:

    I still like to think that if I’m a bit hungry for …say…Blueberry Pie… That if I go out & pick my own BB& make my pie crust from scratch /as well as mix my pie’s fruit mix myself I am better off then eating anything I buy at a stote or bakery! I controll what goes in that pie!

  14. Avatar AlyxP says:

    I look at sodium as well as calories.

  15. Avatar Marcia says:

    Nutritional value is certainly of great importance more so than calories because you can modify your daily consumption to also control your caloric needs and intake. What you eat is more important than how much eat.

  16. Avatar rugby god says:

    Ive just started the 5-2, using fitness pal to log calories. 4 kilos in 3 weeks

  17. Avatar tim says:

    Hi… I wanted to say that I pay way more attention to the overall nutritional value than just the calories. .. However I’m not sure what a healthy intake of a 31 year old male at 210 lbs. And 5’11 should have. .. Any suggestions? ??

  18. Avatar Renate Schmocker says:

    I consider nutrition as well as calories, and if the calories are too high, then that out-weighs the nutritional value!

  19. Avatar Steve Gibson says:

    Not all junk food is created equal. For instance, Cotten candy is full of nutrients and high in fiber. Hershey’s chocolate bars have important amino acids and French fries are oh so French !

  20. Avatar Dale says:

    Good comparison. Except Smarties are not Smarties. They sre sweet tarts candies. Nutrition first and you should know how many calories You eat every day. If you eat more thsn Znormsl. Do some Exercise. That simple

  21. Avatar Karlo Garcia says:

    Yes, I consider nutrition & calories when I count my foods. I learnt that every nutrition value counts whether just nutrition by itself or calories. They all add up,

  22. Avatar Marya Miller says:

    To me, protein, fat and carb counts are equally important–not just calories. Also whether or not it is artificially sweetened. I particularly want to know how much sugar is in an item, so I can avoid it if it contains added sugar or sweeteners.

  23. Avatar Marjorie Elaine Peirce says:

    I have never counted calories. I count the number of carbs (insulin user). I try to ensure I have a nutritional meal. I’ve always needed more protein than most. Two yrs ago I lost my husband (married 46 yrs). It was sudden, so some of my goals have been put on the back burner until this year. I plan on attending a class about plant protein for one meal a day. Besides the diabetes, my food choices are governed majorly by an Anaphylactic reaction to corn and it’s 13 by-products. Reading labels is number one when I shop. After finding product without corn….then checking the number of carbs and then fat. It has removed a great deal of junk food from my menu. (^_^) I always have a cooler with me when ever I leave the house. Carrying foods for 2 meals is far easier than being caught in need and having nothing available. Being prepared helps to keep me healthy … and safe.

  24. Avatar CashEdwards says:

    it would be nice to know the names of those foods.. the bowl of chocolate drops though does look inviting and I’m happy i can eat so many 😉

  25. Avatar Arcedes says:

    Where can we find pictures of the other 62 foods? Thanks.

  26. Avatar Arcedes says:

    Oops–using my iPad to read the article and the type regarding additional photos was so lightly bolded that I did not see it on my first pass.

  27. Avatar Kim says:

    If we happen to know the grams/ml (convert from American to Scientific as needed), but not the calories, can we do simple math to arrive at the correct or a close approximation of the calorie count? For example, 200ml = 200 Cal for balsamic vinegar would require a lot of salad! …let’s say I have 5 ml, does that equal 5 Cal? Thanks so much!

  28. Avatar Rick Dominick says:

    Be careful of sushi too. Had a great dinner and then checked my glucose levels afterwards and it was a whopping 212. My regular number’s are between 135 to 150.
    All that sauce and goodies add up fast.

  29. Avatar Cynthia says:

    I eat for nutrition , try to follow Canada’s food guide. Also check calories for food choices also will choose a lower cal carb for example I eat more protein when training for triathlons, my body needs it !

  30. Avatar Tamara Tammy Pratt-Hall says:

    My daily snacks include 1 sliced apple and 1 spoon of Peanut butter. In actuality, I eat everything I love……in moderation. Thus far, I’ve lost 60 lbs in 10 months. It is slow, but I set a goal to loose weight slowly over time instead of gaining over time. I am very happy and content with the new person I’m becoming.

  31. Avatar Megan Hsi says:

    The apple is straight up false advertising b/c they spread it out to make it look like a ton… It would be nice if they just reported weights like everyone has suggested.

  32. Avatar R. Mizrahi says:

    I’ve measured and calculated the calories per gram of avocado a lot, and that avocado looks like more than 200 cals to me, they are pretty high calorie.

  33. Avatar Jojo says:

    Where are the rest of the photos?

  34. Avatar Linda says:

    I look for nutrition. Something fresh and not processed

  35. […] bed and never come out, then it’s essential to know what certain amounts of calories look like. Myfitnesspal has a lovely little breakdown about what 200 calories really looks like, pointing out that a large […]

  36. The avocado is clearly the best way to smash 200 calories out of your day. YUM

  37. Avatar Nataliya Savchuk says:

    Both. I’m trying to get all the iron from the food I eat. Moreover, I typically have low intake of proteins

  38. Avatar Jessica Handshoe Garrett says:

    Majority of the time its the calorie versus portion size. Not always if I’m craving something like sweets. Lately I try to find something that will be low in calorie, satiete my hunger is good for me. So I reach for cottage cheese with fruit or maybe some lunch meat with whole wheat bread. Trying to make some better choices.

  39. Avatar Val says:

    I do both, look at calories as well as the nutritional value of food.

  40. Avatar Deb says:

    Since WHEN does Splenda have calories?!?! Click on the link for the 71 pictures and Splenda… “Splenda Artificial Sweetener 50 grams = 200 Calories” is pictured”.

    Try adding it to your food diary and it adds 0 calories. Read the nutritional label on the Splenda package… 0 calories.

    So much misleading or false information. It is so hard to know what to believe.

  41. Avatar Jennifer says:

    I don’t count calories. I just do low carb. healthy protein and veggies. lost 50 pounds 3 years ago and still have it off. 🙂

  42. Avatar Lala says:

    I used to care about calories, then more about the kind of calorie… But now I just eat wharever I find whenever I feel hungry! Hopefully it won’t get to unhealthy extremes!

  43. Avatar britt0404 says:

    I hope all these people arguing that a calorie is “just a calorie” realize that there is such thing as being metabolically obese although you are considered “skinny.” And also the way that your body processes different types of calories is vastly different. X amount of calories from sugar will give you a spike in energy and then an extreme crash. That same amount of calories from a whole, natural, nutrient dense source will give you sustainable energy throughout an extended period of time without throwing your insulin out of whack, in turn making your weightloss more effective. If a calorie is a unit of energy (which it is, for all of you who seem to be confused) and the different types of calories show a very distinct and opposite reaction in how it effects your energy levels, then arguably a calorie is no longer “just a calorie.”
    *Drops the mic*

  44. Avatar Chloe says:

    if you want protein and low carb try zone perfect bars there so good and good for you too

  45. Avatar Arleen Medina says:

    I have been drinking plant-based protein every single day for 19 years now and counting… I am 50 years old… I lost over 60 pounds of excess body fat and I have kept them off since… I am healthier now at 50 than at 30…

  46. Avatar Natalie says:

    I consider nutrition value of food I eat. After one year on clean balanced healthy diet my body is tuned that I don’t crave junk, sugary or fatty food so I’m actualy don’t worry about calories anymore 😉 When I started my healthy lifestyle I counted calories, but now I just listen to my body. I eat when I’m hungry and I give my body always fresh whole clean food, veggies fruits. I’m not worry about calories anymore.

  47. Avatar Tysha Carson says:

    I try to look at both but I’m having a hard time not eating to much fat, I think I’m gonna start logging before eating it.

  48. Avatar alfabdall says:

    I can tell you that half a bagel usually isnt 200 calories. Most whole bagels clock in at about 280. It is more like 140 calories. I ought to know since I eat them frequently and log them in my tracker.

  49. Avatar Andrea says:

    Nutrition and calories both count for me.

  50. Avatar Glady Phil Rolffs says:

    The Wise Geek is not so wise. Most people relate to ounces, not grams. I’m not going to take the time to convert grams to ounces. The information is useless to me, and I’m sure to many others. “Wise up,” Wise Geek.

  51. Avatar Carol White says:

    Nutrition as I am type2 diabetic. Low carb

  52. Avatar Char Shields says:

    Nutrition is very important.. I loved eating corn then I found out it has no nutritional value. I still eat it I just mix it with squash or carrots maybe Spanish sometimes… So it matters..

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