10 Calorie Comparisons That May Surprise You


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  94 comments   :  21,597 Views

When you're trying to say “see ya” to some stubborn pounds, you’ll want to sidestep extra calories whenever possible. As you fine-tune your strategy to burn more and consume less, you'll likely be on the hunt for lower-calorie foods to help you stay within your target range.

While there are certain foods that seem inherently diet-friendly—like salads, yogurt and smoothies—be careful not to indulge without checking their nutrition information first. Some seemingly innocent foods can actually be calorie traps. Before planning your next week's worth of meals or heading out to a restaurant, check out these surprising calorie comparisons.

Pizza Versus Salad

It's easy to assume that veggies are always the lower-calorie choice, but this shocking side-by-side comparison proves that's not always true. You can indulge in two small slices of cheesy pepperoni pizza for fewer calories than a veggie and rice salad.
  • 2 slices of Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza (180 calories)
  • Starbucks Hearty Veggie Salad with Brown Rice (430 calories)

Taco Salad Versus Bacon Cheeseburger

Even if it has a little beef in it, a salad is always a better choice than a cheeseburger, right? Not when it comes to calories. This Wendy's taco salad matches the chain's infamous bacon cheeseburger calorie-for-calorie.
  • Wendy's Taco Salad (660 calories)
  • Wendy's Baconator Single (660 calories)

Chipotle Versus Taco Bell

Hitting the Taco Bell drive-thru might seem detrimental to your diet, but it can actually rack up fewer calories than a stop at Chipotle, which is known for its fresh, organic ingredients.
  • Chipotle Salad Bowl with lettuce, sofritas, brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies and tomatillo green chili salsa (560 calories)
  • Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch Supreme (520 calories)


Muffin Versus Cupcake

Given its grand-scaled proportions and high sugar content, a Starbucks muffin is basically just a dessert masquerading as breakfast. Indulging in a single-sized cupcake will net you fewer calories.
  • Starbucks Blueberry Muffin (350 calories)
  • Chocolate cupcake with frosting, homemade (~188 calories) 


Yogurt Versus Frozen Yogurt

Low-fat yogurt may seem like a smarter choice than frozen yogurt, but indulging in a serving of the real thing won't always result in a major calorie overload.
  • Chobani Flip yogurt (230 calories)
  • 1/2 cup Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia (240 calories)


Smoothie Versus Cheesecake

Just because it's packed with fruit and comes with a straw doesn't mean it automatically qualifies as diet-friendly. Although a high-sugar smoothie may sometimes have more health benefits than a slice of cheesecake, it usually packs just as many calories.
  • Smoothie King "The Hulk Strawberry" smoothie (964 calories)
  • 1 slice Cheesecake Factory chocolate mousse cheesecake (940 calories)


Big Mac Versus Sushi

Steering clear of the drive-thru is typically rule #1 of any diet plan, but the sushi bar could be just as dangerous as a fast-food burger in terms of skyrocketing your calorie count.
  • McDonald's Big Mac (540 calories)
  • Shrimp Tempuro Sushi Roll (508 calories)


Granola Bar Versus Cookie

Getting your hand caught in the cookie jar may not be the worst offense. Granola bars may contain more nutrients, but they can pack even more calories and sugar than a single chocolate-chip cookie.
  • Nature Valley roasted almond granola bar (190 calories)
  • McDonald's soft chocolate chip cookie (170 calories)


Soft Pretzels Versus Eggrolls

Low-fat pretzels may seem harmless enough, but when paired with the creamy beer cheese dip, this Applebee's appetizer exceeds the calorie content of the chain's cheeseburger eggrolls.
  • Applebee's pretzels and beer cheese dip (1,050 calories)
  • Applebee's cheeseburger eggrolls (990 calories)


Baked Potato Versus French Fries

To those counting calories, "fried" may as well be a four-letter word. In some cases, however, the baked version of a food is actually higher in calories. When it's topped with butter and sour cream, the Wendy's baked spud is more of a calorie concern than a small order of French fries.
  • Wendy's Baked Potato with Chives, Butter and Sour Cream (380 calories)
  • Wendy's Small French Fries (340 calories)

Of course, just because a food is low in calories doesn’t mean it’s good for you, as calories aren't the only consideration when it comes to healthy eating. However, it’s smart to get into the habit of checking your food’s nutrition information, and to make sure your body is getting the right amounts of macronutrients—protein, fats and carbs—as well as micronurients.

Which of these comparisons surprised you? What other foods have more (or fewer) calories than most people would expect?

Registered dietitian Laura Dilz contributed some of the food comparisons for this article.

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  • 94
    Not like I eat out ever, but interesting. - 7/23/2017   7:00:10 AM
  • 93
    Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.
    - Aristotle - 7/19/2017   1:04:18 AM
  • 92
    Interesting - 7/18/2017   12:44:25 PM
  • 91
    Junk vs junk still equals junk! - 7/18/2017   5:30:26 AM
  • 90
    What a joke of an article. There is no way 2 slices of pizza hut pizza is 180 calories. Also comparing crap vs crap doesnt produce a healthy option. Pretty poor attempt at being an informative article. - 7/17/2017   12:13:29 PM
  • 89
    The integrity of SP articles appears to be waning. First an article on how to target weight loss to your back and now this...c'mon SP don't become the tabloid of weight loss sites. :( - 7/17/2017   12:12:42 PM
  • 88
    Useless a a bit misleading article with out complete nutritional info. - 7/17/2017   11:49:17 AM
    The information did not surprise me, but what did surprise me is the lack of information regarding the other nutritional information in addition to the calories for each item. - 7/17/2017   10:23:42 AM
    None of these surprised me. But, the picture of a tall stack of cookies-instead of one-gave me false hope...for a second. - 7/17/2017   9:35:39 AM
  • 85
    Number one, these images are hugely misleading; size, proportions, and quantity are just wrong, wrong, wrong.

    And Pizza Hut doesn't sell any pizza that's 90 calories a slice. For pepperoni, the lowest is 110, and that's for a thin crust tiny pizza, not the monstrosity pictured here. https://m.nutritionix.com/pizza-hut

    Is this a sponsored post? - 7/17/2017   9:33:33 AM
  • 84
    Interesting info - 7/17/2017   7:42:11 AM
  • 83
    WOW....OMgosh.....what an eye opener for me! Thanks for the article. - 7/17/2017   6:54:08 AM
  • 82
    Good information presented - 7/9/2017   1:25:50 PM
    All of that stuff comes from fast food places. I might have more interest if some casual dining places were included. Or compared home cooked foods. - 7/5/2017   1:08:11 AM
  • 80
    Interesting. - 7/4/2017   11:11:41 AM
  • 79
    Good information contained here. - 7/2/2017   9:58:07 PM
  • 78
    That is very interesting, I can see why its important to pay attention to calorie count when you plan ecspecially when dining out. - 7/2/2017   10:33:39 AM
  • 77
    This is why you must plan! Chart before you eat! It will save you! - 7/1/2017   9:53:02 PM
  • 76
    Always shocking how many calories can be in food! - 7/1/2017   4:05:27 PM
  • 75
    For comparison of what might seem to be healthy to what might be taken as junk or unhealthy choices was interesting. - 7/1/2017   1:27:13 PM
  • 74
    Great article! - 7/1/2017   1:01:08 PM
  • 73
    Great - thx! - 7/1/2017   11:21:40 AM
  • 72
    Thanks - 7/1/2017   1:31:13 AM
  • 71
    Thanks - 7/1/2017   1:31:12 AM
  • 70
    the chocolate cupcake was the biggest surprise to me.Most of the others I don't have a problem avoiding, but oh, chocolate cupcake. It is nice to know that I can choose it sometimes without too much guilt. (not real often) - 6/30/2017   6:57:33 PM
  • 69
    thanks too! - 6/30/2017   3:29:57 PM
  • 68
    How interesting to see these comparisons. - 6/30/2017   1:27:15 PM
  • 67
    thank you
    - 6/30/2017   1:21:52 AM
  • 66
    thank you cant believe the difference of some things wow - 6/30/2017   12:43:42 AM
  • 65
    Thanks - 6/30/2017   12:26:36 AM
  • ZRIE014
    helpful - 6/30/2017   12:11:41 AM
  • 63
    Glory lies in the attempt to reach one's goal,
    and not in reaching it.
    - Mohandas Gandhi - 6/29/2017   2:22:48 PM
  • 62
    Wow! Some of these were really eye-opening! - 6/29/2017   8:56:11 AM
  • 61
    Thanks for sharing - 6/29/2017   8:47:42 AM
    I'm amazed at the amount of calories in food altogether and I'd be wrong if I had to select which had the lower calories. - 6/29/2017   7:00:09 AM
  • 59
    GREAT info thanks! - 6/29/2017   6:31:50 AM
  • 58
    this article is dangerously filled with misinformation. We are trying to lose weight and eat healthy, so suggesting pizza has less calories than salad, and including a picture of yummy looking pizza is not only untrue, but cruel. - 6/29/2017   3:31:31 AM
  • 57
    Good information - 6/29/2017   12:58:13 AM
  • 56
    Good information - 6/29/2017   12:58:13 AM
  • 55
    As far as a calorie count this is a good comparison but as far as nutrition no value I think this comparison is in informative. - 6/28/2017   1:47:42 PM
  • 54
    Great comparisons. - 6/28/2017   11:17:48 AM
    This is a such an uninformative article for hose who really want to loose weight in a healthier manner. It suggests that you can choose the worst food as long as you're within your calorie range, which is a LIE!! What counts are the GOOD calories, macros (protein, good carbs and good fat). What's healthier and keeps you satisfied for longer a period, a pepperoni pizza or a veggie salad with rice??? Shame! - 6/28/2017   9:31:29 AM
  • 52
    You made a lot of unfair and incorrect comparisons. Shame on you. - 6/27/2017   8:15:54 PM
    I didn't find the comparisons all that helpful. - 6/27/2017   5:56:41 PM
  • 50
    I fully agree with _XIALA_!! Especially about the salad comparisons! You have a High fat, low fiber, low calorie slice of pizza compared to a veggie filled, fiber rich, higher calorie salad. I mean, come on. - 6/27/2017   5:23:25 PM
  • 49
    I'm awfully suspicious of the calorie counts given for various foods in this article. Even if the counts are accurate (highly unlikely in some cases), there's a huge difference in 500 calories that come from healthy, nutrient-dense food that delivers complex carbs, protein, fiber and important vitamins and minerals and 500 calories laden with unhealthy saturated and transfats, sugars, and is nutritionally empty. - 6/27/2017   3:19:30 PM
  • 48
    This article is not informative or helpful! I hope that the people reading this don't think it's ok to then go to taco bell and eat gorditas. It's not ALL about calorie counts, it's also about QUALITY of those calories. My lunch today will be almost 600 calories, but it's all nutrient dense calories. Beans, vegetables, chicken breast, sweet potato, quinoa, etc. This article is honestly a bunch of crap. - 6/27/2017   2:31:52 PM
  • 47
    I think the whole point of the article is that sometimes what we think is healthy, isn't and what we think isn't, isn't so bad. All things in moderation and read the labels! - 6/27/2017   1:24:53 PM
  • LULA420
    This article is a bunch of crap. You are way off on that Pizza Hut Pizza. I don't think you counted the frosting in that cupcake. Actually, I'm almost sure of it, provided it's your average homemade cupcake. If the Chobani yogurt is 230 calories, why does it say 190 IN THE PICTURE? I enjoy using sparkpeople, but really wish you'd quit with the blatant misinformation. Sure, there are lots of "health foods" or "better choices" that are junk, but look at how many people are thanking you, about to go crush 2 pieces of pizza and a Ben&Jerry's because you said it was better than salad and yogurt. - 6/27/2017   12:57:37 PM
  • 45
    It seems to me there is really very little calorie differential between these items. For the most part they are calorie bombs I wouldn't even be interested in having. I prefer my own whole foods cooked or not, but serving my body well with good fuel. - 6/27/2017   12:56:07 PM

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