How to Calculate the Nutrition of a Meal

You like to eat out and you don't want to worry about what you put in your stomach. Well, one way to do it is to prepare yourself ahead of time by collecting information about:

  • The restaurant you are going to and how it prepares its food
  • Possessing a basic knowledge about the nutritional value of certain items


  1. Image titled Calculate the Nutrition of a Meal Step 1
    Learn what resources are out there.
    • The Daily Plate[1]
    • Nutrition[2]
    •[3] (software, free to try for 20 days)
      • and many others. Do a search on your favorite search engine using the search parameters of "nutritional", "value", maybe the name of the restaurant...etc.
  2. Image titled Calculate the Nutrition of a Meal Step 2
    Have an idea what you are going to eat. Most people, when they go out to eat or even eat at home, eat the same things. This allows the diner, sometimes, to know ahead of time, and arm themselves with the required knowledge.
    • Once you have a basic understanding of nutritional values, you won't have to research every meal.
  3. Image titled Calculate the Nutrition of a Meal Step 3
    Work on getting the basics. A basic hamburger would be the bun, the hamburger and cheese. You could go to the restaurant's website to get the information, or research each component.
    • Hamburger patty - Calories: 209, Total Fat: 14g, Carbs: 0g, Protein: 20g
    • Hamburger bun - Calories: 120, Total Fat: 2g, Carbs: 23g, Protein: 4g
    • Cheese slice - 2 ounces; Calories: 100, Total Fat: 1g, Carbs: 1g, Protein: 3g
    • and the infamous question: do you want fries with that?
      • 1 large (169.0 g); Calories: 200, Total Fat: 31.1g, Carbs: 67.3g, Protein: 7.27g
    • So, a basic cheeseburger with fries (no beverage) would be 529 calories, 47.1g of total fat, 54.4 g of Carbs, and 31.27g of protein. The requirement varies from person to person. Check this site out[6] to see what yours are.
    • Add to this, a 16 ounce cola beverage, and you add 200 more calories. You now have, easily, one third of your 'daily allotment' of calories and it is on one meal (if that is all you have).
  4. Image titled Calculate the Nutrition of a Meal Step 4
    Start researching healthier meals to improve the value of your decisions when you eat:
    • Caesar salad - Calories: 280, Total Fat: 7g, Carbs: 13g, Protein: 8g
    • Pasta salad - Calories: 170, Total Fat: 7g, Carbs: 20g, Protein: 8.2g (obviously this will change as your ingredients will)
    • Wraps
      • Wheat Wrap - Calories: 200, Total Fat: 4.5g, Carbs: 31g, Protein:
      • Soft Wrap - Calories: 100, Total Fat: 3g, Carbs: 20g, Protein: 9g
        • Note: All of these meal comparisons were found here.


  • A excellent place to learn about guidelines is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Library
  • While there is no Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for carbohydrates and fats, the amount of protein recommended represents a small percentage of a person's energy allowance; with the remainder acquired from carbohydrates and fats. The general guideline for carbohydrate and fat is that more than half of daily energy should come from carbohydrates, with no more than one-third from fat. [6]


  • You may learn more than you want to know about your meals.
  • The average American gets approximately 45 percent of his/her calories just from fat. For most of us, this is too high![7]
  • Most sources suggest approximately 20-30% of daily calories be derived from fat.[8]

Article Info

Categories: Dining Out | Nutrition and Lifestyle Eating