M&Ms are really football fields


Linda L. Rankin is a health and nutrition professor at Idaho State University.

Did you know that M&Ms are really football fields? To find out what this means, take a small bag of M&Ms and go to the back of the end zone at your local football field. Open the bag, take out one M&M and eat it. Now start walking to the other end of the football field and into the far end zone. You’ve just walked 120 yards and burned off one M&M. There are about 53 M&Ms in a small bag. That’s 53 football fields! That translates to over three miles of walking. And each peanut M&M is two football fields. This helpful concept for connecting caloric intake with expenditure was developed by walking expert, Rob Sweetgall, for his workbook “Walking Off Weight.”
Unfortunately, too many Americans have a “chair-based lifestyle” and fail to make the connection between calories in and calories out. Weight loss or weight gain is basically an equation. If we take in more calories than we expend, we gain weight. If we burn more calories than we consume, we lose weight. And small changes make a big difference over time. Cutting one 12-ounce can of pop out of your diet daily equals about 150 calories less per day. In one month that would equal 4,500 calories and in one year you would be consuming 54,750 less calories. Since 3,500 calories equals one pound of body fat, you would lose over 15 pounds in one year, just from one small change.
On the flip side, small changes on the activity or energy expenditure side of the equation, also add up. For example, if you walked 15 extra minutes per day, this would burn an extra 80 calories per day and 29,200 extra calories per year, resulting in a losing eight pounds in one year — just from one small lifestyle change. Here is a really useful web link for a “Calories Burned Calculator.” It’s based on your weight and type of activity, so you can get a close approximation of how many calories you burn for various activities. See http://www.healthcalculators.org/calculators/calories_burned.asp
So think about M&M’s the next time you consider the exercise cost of the food you’re eating. How many football fields would you need to walk to burn off the calories? And just FYI, a Big Mac, fries and a shake is 240 football fields!