What Does 4,000 Calories a Day Look Like?

The average American consumes almost 4,000 calories every day and counting! That’s anywhere from 1500 to 2500 more calories than the average man or woman really needs (children and athletes have different needs).

Translation: 3500 calories is equivalent to one pound. If you’re an “average American”, you could be eating anywhere from 12 to 15 excess pounds every month, adding fat to your body, increasing the pressure on your heart, and stressing your organs (not to mention the environmental impact of all this gluttony).

But why are we eating so much?

I decided to see what it would be like to eat the way the average American supposedly eats.

Breakfast: How about McDonald’s? That’s a typical choice for millions of Americans every day.

All the sugar, fat and calories you want, none of the nutrition you don't want!

To be an average American, you need to eat at least 700 calories and up to 1300 calories at each setting. McDonald’s can help you with that. Another tip: it helps to drink your calories, so remember to wash it all down with a big slosh of soda or juice! Or a nice venti mocha will do the trick.

Lunch: I know Burger King is bad. I’ll go for Subway. Subway is fresh, so I’m sure whatever I eat there is going to be good, right?

Hooray processed meat!

Well, maybe if you get a 6″ whole-grain sandwich with vegetables or a salad. But according to Subway, the most popular Subway item in the world is the toasted steak and cheese sandwich. This will give you a very generous 400 calories per 6″ section. Don’t forget the chips and soda (an extra 300 calories!), and you’re easily on your way to 4,000 calories today! It’s nice that convenience chains are offering slightly more healthy options these days, but it’s still disingenuous counter-marketing to offer it along side the regular high-calorie fare. Eat fresh, indeed.

Dinner: Pizza and burgers are beloved American foods. Sign me up!

Sign me up for six dollars of flab!

Carl’s Jr. says there’s only one thing that can “slay the hunger of a young guy on the move”. Hey, that’s me! I can even get their burger for breakfast. But wait, am I really that starving that I need to be slaying my stomach? The six-dollar burger with a large Coke and a side of fries will round out my day with an additional 1,200 calories (give or take a few).

(Honestly, I’ve always thought it’s sort of sad that the most famous American foods – pie, burgers, pizza, hot dogs, French fries – are all junk foods. The French get cheese, wine and sauces, and Asia’s got vegetables down cold, but when it comes to cuisines of the world, we can sure be proud of our corn, salt, sugar and trans fat, all right.)


I thought it would be a little bit of a challenge to eat 4,000 calories, but thanks to the vast majority of what’s available at every restaurant these days, it’s actually pretty hard not to consume twice as many calories as you need – and that’s the whole problem. It shouldn’t require a degree in nutrition or hours of online research to know what’s reasonable to eat and what isn’t. Stopping in at Subway to eat lunch shouldn’t be an obesity challenge.

Of course, what really helps is all that soda! We each drink approximately 50 gallons of soda every year. We eat twice as many calories daily as we need by some estimates, and about 1,000 excess calories a day by more conservative estimates (seems a little more accurate to me, but then again…) Whether we’re overeating a lot or overeating a lot, it’s not healthy and it’s no wonder the majority of Americans are overweight.

That’s why I’m giving this month’s Impossible Calorie Award to the Standard American Diet!

How is this feat of caloric wonderment possible?

Tomorrow Mark will be bringing you the second installment of his new syndicated column, Primal Health, which covers fitness, diet and nutrition issues from a biology buff’s evolutionary perspective. And Sara will be dragging the Fuming Fuji kicking and screaming into yet another review of sneaky marketers’ attempts to toxify the seedlings. (Good luck with that, Sara.) I’ll be back Thursday with another round of 3 More (Sorta) Healthy Fast Foods. Stick around for the daily news bites!

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[tags] counter-marketing, restaurant portion sizes, standard American diet, average American diet, french fries, portions, calories, fast food, soda, most popular foods [/tags]

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63 thoughts on “What Does 4,000 Calories a Day Look Like?”

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  1. I agree with overconsmption of Americans. The overconsumption is partly due to the unhealtthy calories, carbs, and sugars. The unhealthy sugars lead to sugar addiction and overeating.

    1. well im not from america im from england, and im 13 years old and im a girl i eat around 500 calories a day now. if i eat anymore i feel sick which makes me then sick which then makes it even less calories a day, even though i should be eatng about 1800 calories a day.. so i dont really no how someone can eat that much food!

        1. Chloe might already be dead. A woman needs to eat at least 1200 a day to be healthy. If someone feels sick eating more than 500 calories they need to go to a doctor ASAP for help before their body shuts down and they die.

          Being underweight, especially very underweight is more dangerous to your health than being a little overweight.

          Even someone 100 lbs overweight has a much better chance of living through the next month than someone who is 30 lbs underweight.

  2. I’m from america & I agree we do eat too much bad food, because it’s extremely cheap & available to us. I can tell you I used to eat 10,000 calories a day I could eat 2 whole boxes of sugar loaded cereal in 1 day & weighed less than 99 pounds still, but I always felt very bloated & drowsy. Not all americans eat this way though, some eat very healthfully. But I agree they should start making things on our menus more healthy, or maybe use lean beef for our burgers, & more reduced fat substitutes in resturaunts & fast food chains.

  3. Most Americans are not gaining 15 pounds every month so your number of 4000 calories a day is ridiculous . Some people gain like 15 pounds per year, or someone quiting a diet might gain pretty fast, but 15 pounds per month for a average American is just plain wrong.

  4. I am 42 years old.

    305 lbs

    *hang my head*

    I found Mr. Sisson’s website by accident,….simply searching,
    “What DO 4000 calories look like?”


    In an attempt to become more accountable for my actions,…my jouney began at CalorieCountersplus.com. There I saw the science for the first time;
    Take your body weight, divide it by 2.2, which will equal your weight in kilograms….then..x 30 will give you the results of how many calories you are consuming to maintain that amount of weight.

    In order to maintain my weight at the time, I would have to be consuming 4,240 calories on a regular basis.

    *stunned silence, followed by denial*

    With a raised eyebrow, I decided to use their calorie calculator.
    Total calories?
    4,100 and change.
    900 of those calories were from wine. (Envisioning myself as some sort of sophisticate…..I would have a evening nosh of wine, fine cheese, imported crackers…After all it wasn’t a bag of Cheetos. Alas, no amount of mental SPIN can conceal “over-comsumption”.)

    Normally, as a very overweight person, I would do anything(!) to escape exposing myself to this sort of public criticism….. Most overweight people want to scream the comforting words, “YOU PEOPLE JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!” This time, after reading your posts I felt the need to confirm the facts with a true confession.

    Please do not feel the need to post anything letting me know how horrified you are at my lack of personal control. I look at myself everyday. Your verbal disgust could not hold a candle to looking in the mirror. I, myself, once was a thin, attractive, overly-opinionated person about the subject of weight…… I cringe at remembering my over-simplification of the subject. Trust me, save yourself the embarrassment.

    In order to be the weight I desire, I will have to consume 1800 calories a day, and learn to control my insulin levels by food choices. Balanced exercise routine. Build muscle.
    If I do not, I will either maintain this weight, destroying my knees, feet and back,
    I will die, most likely in the next ten years.

    Mr. Sisson, I want to say,”Thank you!” for exposing the facts. There are those of us out here who are

    LITERALLY dying

    to be told the TRUTH.

    1. I wish you the greatest success in your weight loss journey. Never give up!

  5. This is a very powerful explanation of our health problem. I had read the 3790 calorie a day number yesterday and mentioned it to my husband at dinner. He was in shock. He said that’s almost double the “recommended amount.” Sure, and plenty of people weigh twice as much as they should (both of our fathers).

    Tools like this visual explanation of calories per day and the calorie calculator are so important to understand so that we can take control of our health.

    I really appreciate information and support of healthy diets rather than criticism of a person who is “too fat” or “to skinny.” Neither is productive. We can not compare ourselves to others or pass judgment so easily. Obviously the portions at restaurants and even the sizes of clothing available are not a good indicator of where we should set our goals.

    For me, choosing to eat foods that make me look and feel good has often alienated me from friends and family and made restaurant dining much less enjoyable. Food will always be a tough issue until we are all doing the math.

    @ no more inertia- you are inspiring! I wish you all the love and support that you need to accomplish your goals. It is not easy, but you can do it.

  6. Since when is eating over 400 calories in a meal a sure way to stress your organs? That doesn’t make any sense. Everything I’ve read says that I (250 lb woman) should eat 1600-2000 calories/day to lose 1-2 lb/week, which is what I am doing.

    If I ate less than 400 calories a meal, I’d be getting less than 1000 calories/day, which is not enough.

    1. Post your worse 400 calories meal food type and quantity and calorie breakdown…

      6 ounce chicken breast -165 cal
      1 cup chopped cooked broccoli – 54 cal
      1/2 cup cooked brown rice – 100 calories

      Total:319 calories

      This is an actual mean for me, I am a 200 male ….

      This static calorie rule is garbage science. calories are important but what you do with them is even more important.

      A person that has a sedentary job, drives to work and lives in a one story house has completely different calories requirements then some one who rides a bike, walks to work or has a physically demanding job.

      Even environmental temperature plays a big part in calories expenditure.

      I have trained 100’s of people in my life time and I have never trained anyone to loose weight. I have trained them to live there life differently because ultimately you will always be a reflections on your lifestyle.

      1. excuse typos touch screen phones aren’t so good for long comments

  7. To follow up, here is what my menu looked like yesterday. Very healthy, around 1800 calories:


    2 eggs, scrambled
    Ezekiel toast w/tbspn butter

    1/2 cup brown rice
    Can of tuna
    Tomato sauce
    Two cups of salad veggies with small amt of vinaigrette

    String cheese

    Chicken breast, grilled
    small potato, tbspn butter
    half a head of broccoli, steamed


    100 calorie bag of popcorn

    It seems irresponsible to suggest that a 1600-calorie diet would be too much.

  8. Hi Sarah.

    I don’t know if you are familiar with Marks’ site.. I’m just reading through his posts now, but his perspective is basically paleolithic in nature. So… no grains, higher in fat and protein.

    So your sample day doesn’t really jive with his message and perspective on what constitutes a healthy diet from the actual foods perspective. So, the toast, Just letting you know, not sure if you were aware.

    But yeah, 4 meals x 400 calories is only 1600, which wouldn’t even be enough for me.

  9. Subway? Whole grain? Look up the nutritional info on their bread. Their “wheat” bread is not whole wheat.

  10. I am a 29 year old American male. 5’10” and I have been underweight pretty much since birth. I used to think I could eat whatever, whenever, just to stay at my current weight. I gained ten lbs a year from 7th grade to graduation. I graduated High School tipping the scales at 120.

    I had all but given up on actually gaining any real weight. My wife took me into the clinic one day and had my cholesterol tested. And while I was sitting at 130 lbs, almost looking like a Holocaust survivor, my cholesterol was in the “Dangerously High” category. I changed my eating habits, eating more healthy, eating at home (and not from a hamburger helper box). I switched to chicken and salads in total fear that I was going to vaporize into the ether. I stopped stepping on the scale because I didn’t want to see me getting lighter and lighter.

    A year passed. I moved, and when I weighed in for my new driver’s license… I was at 150! I couldn’t believe it! Here I was eating healthy and GAINING weight! But then my wife left me, and I dropped 30 lbs like it was last week’s Wal-Mart fashion… I couldn’t eat or sleep. (My friends call it the “Stress Diet”, really it is a dangerous crash that will land you in the hospital!)

    Today I am divorced, and dealing daily with the problems of forcing myself to eat. I just found out I need 4,000 calories a day, (balanced properly of course, not all from soda or anything like that…) to get back to the right weight for me, which is 170. (Of course, I also have a very labor intensive job in the construction industry, so you desk-job types who may have problems similar to mine, adjust your intake accordingly.) I am 30lbs light right now. But I am resolved to doing it right, and I really appreciate sites like this.

    Onoe thing is for sure, if you want to be the right weight, just eat right and exercise. (FYI, I live a kosher diet as a religious choice…) It takes will power and a lifestyle change for sure. Surgery in EXTREME cases. But we all can be healthy… if we choose to be.

    1. sounds like you might have celiac disease. If you are allergic to wheat/gluten it can be hard to keep weight on and you gained weight while eating salad and chicken because the wheat grains were not in them.

    2. I am sorry about your divorce.

      I am – however – envious that gaining weight is an issue for you.


      I do hope you are healthy though. =)

      Cheers and bursting health to you!

  11. I agree this is quite pathetic, but its kind of our own faults. The fast food industries live of our need to for convenience and now our laziness, which causes more laziness and a cycle. Its one that I refuse to give into and many others should also refuse.
    The funny thing is you can make a hamburger, eggs, sausage at home and its just as good and healthier.

    This makes me glad i don’t drink soda and actually watch what I eat!

    You just don’t understand”(

    you dont understansd.

  13. i am 13 and i am supposed to take 2000 calories a day. i take about twice as much as that and i dont get fat at all. is this normal?

    1. At 13 you shouldn’t really be counting calories at all just choose healthy foods.

  14. I know this posting is pretty old, but I just wanted to point out that the 3790Cal figure is based on per-capita food disposal, and does not account for food waste and spoilage, which was estimated at ~1100Cal for the same period.

    1. That makes more sense. At ~2700 calories per day a lot of people are probably eating about 250 extra calories, and so gaining about half a pound a week. Much more believable than overeating by 1200 calories and gaining 2+ pounds a week (which I’m sure some people do, but is certainly not the norm).

      1. There’s one thing that’s been overlooked (though it was mentioned earlier) – as you gain weight and get bigger, it takes more calories to maintain that heavier weight. So if you’re near 300 lbs, you [i]need[/i] to take in ~4000 calories a day just to stay 300 lbs. If you take in less, you lose weight. If you take in more, you’ll gain even more weight. The body finds an equilibrium point based on the calorie intake.

        Also, think about it a minute – if you were ~300 lbs, you’re going to burn a lot more calories doing the same things that someone who’s 150lbs does – simply carrying all that weight around is hard work. Most very heavy people have tremendously strong legs, and if they lose weight that becomes very apparent. I should know, I was once almost 300 lbs, and when I lost weight I realized how strong I was, and then figured out why. But I agree with the article above – it is so very easy to over consume calories by eating out at fast food places. Way too easy…

        K Fox

  15. Indeed, we in the West are a very overfed group. The amount of calories is just as important as the healthfulness of the food. In fact, there’s a proven inversely proportional relationship between caloric intake and lifespan. (the lesser the calories the longer the life) See: http://www.calorierestriction.org/

  16. I don’t know anyone who eat 4000 calories a day. Maybe more like 2500 to 3000 Who do you know that eats fast food for breakfast lunch and dinner?

    I am skinny and eat more than most people bigger than me.

    I have no respect for fat people. They don’t even respect them selves enough to go outside and at least jog in place for 10 minutes. Lazy and pathetic.

    1. This site is a place for people to come together and change their lives, not be disrespectful. Please take your negativity elsewhere.

    2. Many people don’t have a high metabolism like you. Some people have a medical condition such as hypothyroidism.

    3. I actually am overwieght and I was in spring track and im joining winter track and I do have hypothyriodism.. So FU

    4. You would think that until it happens to you. I used to think being fat was something that happened to people who gorged themselves and never exercised. Boy was I wrong! You don’t even have to technically overeat to get overweight.

      You can eat a small portion of say, cream of mushroom soup, and it has a lot more calories in it than something like minestrone. It’s about choosing the right foods, not usually cutting back on the amount of food that makes the biggest difference in calories.

      I’ve lost 80 lbs since last summer, but I was a good person when I was 80 lbs heavier, and I did respect myself. I just had to learn how to make the right choices, which isn’t always easy to know unless you take time to study the topic.

  17. That is truly disgusting. No wonder obesity is so big in this country!! I’m completely grossed out right now.

  18. There is no way this is true if we where eating an extra 1,000 calories a day this would equate to 2 extra pounds a week, meaning the average american would be 104 pounds overweight in one year. Now I know we may be heavy but not that heavy.

  19. How about eating food from home? Im american and consume about 1200 cals a day making healthy meals at home and going to the gym.

  20. “If you’re an “average American”, you could be eating anywhere from 12 to 15 excess pounds every month”

    Okay I’m an american.. and I have never seen anyone do that. I eat 1000-1500 calories a day.. If I ate too many calories i would feel sick and drink lots of water… But too many calories for me is around 1500-2000

    so serously this article is bullcrap…

    Oh and FYI….. I have hypothryiodism and even with meds sometimes I still dont feel liek my metabism is high… i mean i wake up exhausted after 9 hours of sleep and im craving spicy foods. (i already take meds for it)..

    According to a calorie counter I use. To maintain my weight i need to eat about 1500 since I don’t exercise as much as I should. I almost always stay within that. Rare exceptions are monthly to trimonthly… but i make up for it.

    As for other americans… No one I see eats that much either…

    I mean we dont gulp the calories down with coke and big mac’s … ew those foods are taboo to me.

  21. Not all “fat people” are lazy people with no respect for themselves. How ignorant to say so. For instance, I am a bit overweight because I just had a hard pregnancy where I was on bed rest, ordered by a doctor, so as not to lose my baby as I had with the previous one while at 6 months along. I am not lazy. After having my baby I worked out as soon as cleared by a doctor and still am. But the weight is coming off slow. Some people cannot work out because of medical reasons. You do not know why some people are big. You are rude and ignorant.

  22. Statistically speaking, if you keep a detailed journal of nutrition and antrenament,constantly watching your weight and monitor other factors, you can reach conclusions about ”average”. Find out how much you eat, how much you burn, how much weight loss or gain. However, medium and long term weight loss balance is finer than that(talking about the equivalent of tens or hundreds of calories a day), errors and deviations from the estimates for most because of failure when trying to keep a strict and weigh food ”per gram”. If you want to see how many calories you need to burn use our calorie calculator on calotor.com

  23. I am surprised by this article on this site. I like a lot of Mark’s posts because they seem to be balanced and well thought out and based on facts, and if it’s a speculation, he says so.

    I have to assume this isn’t Mark writing this because it is totally different than the other (more recent) articles I’ve been reading. This article was kind of off-putting when compared to others.

  24. My husband likes me fat he is the one I should impress stuff what others think

  25. It annoys me that people stick with old habits even though they’re killing them. Drinking soda and eating fries, for example. Soda is so easy to quit after not drinking it for a while, especially if you think of all the negative benefits. I can understand eating burgers or chicken from fast food restaurants once a week though, since we all do that.

  26. I’ve been overweight my whole life – mostly because my dad refuses to buy healthier foods because they’re more expensive than the junk food he normally buys.
    And I admit, I love soda. I don’t drink coffee so soda wakes me up every morning.
    I also don’t exercise because if god had intended us to do that, you’d have seen the Thigh Buster 1.0 a lonnnng time ago.
    On a final note, I don’t believe I eat that much everyday. Most of my calories probably come from soda. I haven’t counted calories in years, and lost weight when I stopped counting. Some days I only have one meal (not by choice). Excluding my sodas, I’d say I normally eat less than 1300, and probably less than 1000 sometimes.

    Yet, 50-70 pounds overweight.

    1. a)you drink soda for breakfast
      b)you mostly eat junk food
      c)you don’t exercise

      Sooo, you eat unhealthy food, drink unhealthy drinks and don’t exercise. No wonder you’re 50-70 pounds overweight!
      And lots of people underestimate their caloric intake, so I’d say you’re definetly eating much much more than 1000-1300 calories a day.
      And I hope that part about god not intending us to exercise was a joke, because that’s just ridiculous otherwise. Honestly, if you want to lose weight, replace pop with water, eat healthier and exercise. And try counting your calories for a change. You’ll probably be surprised.

  27. how many meals of chicken,fish rice and vegtables,do i have to eat to get 4,000 colories a day

  28. There is no way Americans average 4000 calories a day. You’re CRAZY!

    1. …and yet, Americans are the fattest nation in the world, with 60% obesity rate… bit of denial going on, maybe?

  29. Actually Marion its about 35 percent, good god I know that’s still bad but its definitely not 60 percent! Also I don’t know ANYONE who eats at Mcdonalds every day. or even eats any kind of fast food every day. I’m not saying that America doesn’t have a problem with obesity but things like this make it seem like EVERYONE in america is morbidly obese.

  30. Your numbers are laughable. If someone gained 12 pounds per month starting at age 18, they would be 1700 pounds overweight before they were 30.

  31. Don’t knock subway, you picked their unhealthiest sandwich and still it’s only 400 calories. You don’t ‘have to’ get the chips and soda, in fact I rarely do. I go for bottle water and apple slices, subway is far healthier than the other options you’re comparing it too.

    1. I have to agree. If you “have” to go to fast food there are healthy options these days. I went with some friends to the big M the other day. I’m on a strict diet as I try to pull my self back from my 319lb high (297 now) so I was worried about what I’d eat and if it would remind me of what I was missing (wow I miss Big Macs) but instead I chose a salad. I was pleasantly surprised, only a couple of hundred calories (since I didn’t have the dressing), tasty and more filling than the Big Mac. So Fast Food isn’t good for you but there are healthy options if you can bring yourself to get them.

  32. Just one quibble, Mark: Of the 3800 calories per day “consumed” by the average American, “The USDA’s Economic
    Research Service (ERS) estimates that
    roughly 1,100 calories were lost to
    spoilage, plate waste, and cooking and
    other losses, putting dietary intake of
    calories in 2000 at just under 2,700 calories per person per day.”

  33. Even if you are skinny at 13,14,15 over eating WILL catch up to you, your body is already producing fat cells that will grow and expand, then when you try to diet it will store your fat cells as its accustomed to eating so much, it will actually turn an organ from a healthy red to a huge puffy white one

  34. I read a lot of the comments associated with this article. Verrrrrrrry interesting reads.
    I am currently struggling with weight loss – but it is all stemming from caloric intake. I eat too fast, and therefore still hungry, so I eat more…. Clean-my-plate syndrome ;).
    I’m 5’11”; supposedly I am supposed to be 150-170 lbs. I look like skeletor when I go under 180 lbs. So, I lift – I am currently 210 (but I do have some fat I am getting rid of). Here is what I have found – for those that don’t believe/realize it:
    DO NOT MAKE EXCUSES! This is your first hurdle you must always climb over. Figure out what is wrong and how you can fix it. Your body is a machine – complex, yet simple. For almost every human being, at the end of the day, if you use more calories than you consume, you lose weight; if you consume more than you use, you gain weight.
    Sodas – Unhealthy and full of crap
    Energy drinks: SOOO UNHEALTHY FOR YOU!!!….. :D… I hate coffee… and used to supplement one for the other…. But the amount of sugar and BS that is in one… Does anyone know why Ginseng or any of the other BS is in them? The truly energetic part of them comes from the Caffeine and Sugar Content… If you need Caffeine, supplement – not only does it work better than coffee or an energy drink, but it is BY FAR CHEAPER! With that being said careful on how much caffeine you put in your system – too much is a bad thing.
    Drink WATER… WATER…. WATER… MORE WATER (occasional Gatorade/soda is ok – otherwise you flush your system and can cause detrimental health issues)
    Juices- not bad for you.. but LOADED with sugar – typical cup of juice usually has the same amount of sugar as soda.
    Fast Food- “Unhealthy and full of crap”
    Restaurants- “same as above” (thinking Applebee’s/chilis/etc)
    Exercise: EXTREMELY IMPORTANT (seriously… everyone needs it in their life)
    PROPER nutritional Diet: Extremely important to keep your machine (body) running!
    For the most part you can eat anything… as long as it is in moderation – too much of most anything is a bad thing.
    Hats off to those who are working on making a difference in their lives. At least YOU are doing something about it – God bless you, and stick with it.
    For those of you who are naysayers/condemners… God help you. One day you or someone you love will most likely experience this issue. I find it funny when I am in the gym lifting 250+ and I walk by someone making fun of someone doing less than them- you know the guy curling 10 lb dumb bells or pressing the bar with 5lb plates? How dare you make fun or judge him! At least he is doing something – working toward his personal goal! Is it funny that I or someone else can do two or three times as much as you?
    After saying this, I used to be in your shoes (with overweight/fat people), and I thought: HOW ON EARTH DOES SOMEONE GET SO FAT?
    ANSWER: VERY EASILY in America. We are the land of Surplus, and are constantly bombarded with reasons to eat (not to mention junk food is cheap considering)
    My wife was the skinny girl all through high school – she could eat WHATEVER she wanted… her diet consisted mostly of soda and candy… literally. When she had our 1st kid, she gained the weight (I put on 40 lbs of sympathy weight – I stopped lifting to help her out, but didn’t adjust my caloric intake)… the weight stayed on for about a year because of serious post partum depression. Then she got out of that- and without exercising and back on her junk food diet, and lost the weight. Meanwhile, I worked my butt off and ate properly to lose my weight (very jealous of her!)… The next kid came… He is 1.5 yrs old now, and she is still 30 lbs over weight with fat… She is not under any depression as far as we or the doctors can tell…. but her horrible diet has not helped her out at all (btw, I did gain 20 lbs of sympathy weight). She has realized that her body doesn’t work like it did 2 years ago. Now it has slowed down like most others. So after much encouragement and explaining to her what was happening, we have both started a diet and exercise routine together. We go on daily walks/runs/bikes. We are eating healthier –more veggies, and meats with less oils/sugars. She cut out her sodas (day 5 so far) and drinking much more water. She is feeling better, and so am I. Our goal is to cut the crap out. We have two children’s lives we are in charge of now. Eating better and exercising as a family is very important to us and something we want to instill in them. It hits very close to home (very saddening too) when you daughter cries at you because she cannot have M-D’s fries/cheeseburger/coke for lunch. I do not want to set my children for failure. Diet and Exercise.
    I hope this helped someone out there.
    Most disgusting thing I have ever heard from parent to 200+ lbs 13 year old girl:
    “imagine how much more weight you can lose if you cut back to only two 2L of soda a day”

    1. I particularly enjoyed what you said about wondering how people can get so fat, because I would often wonder that, and then I gained some weight (I wasn’t ‘overweight’ but I was VERY unhappy with myself, thankfully I lost it and have kept it off)… and I realized how easy it would have been to continue what I was doing, since food (especially junk) is EVERYWHERE, and that I should express more empathy and support for anyone who is overweight, because chances are they aren’t thrilled with it, so my disgust was 1) disgusting and 2) probably aimed at myself, because I’ve always had self-image issues. So, while I enjoyed reading all of what you wrote, I liked that the most, because I personally think people have far too little empathy for other people, and don’t ever consider what might be wrong with themselves before screaming how other people need to change. 🙂

  35. I’m an American and I can say for sure I know lots of people that eat 4,000 calories a day. I have a friend that is 80 lbs overweight. She works next door to a Sonic. She gets 3 Route 44 drinks every single work day.
    60% of Americans are overweight. In my area people who shop at Wal-Mart are so overweight they use the handicap scooter.
    I’ve been underweight most of my life. I only have a few pounds to lose (15-20) but mostly I want to feel better with my fibromyagia. I’ve only been following a semi-paleo diet for less than two weeks and my husband and I have both lost 4 lbs each. My energy is already much higher and I have almost no pain. This kind of diet is definitely what my body needs. It’s already telling me this.

  36. The whole wheat bread at subway is full of High Fructose Corn Syrup. FAIL. and its bread.

  37. Something totally unaddressed here, except in the case of the girl who only eats 500 calories a day, is undereating.

    Like others, I learned how easy it is to put on weight. I was one of those skinny teens that put away seconds at every meal. At 19 I was making stir-fry, spaghetti, ramen, etc. Then one day, my boyfriend pointed out what he thought was a rash on my stomach – it was a stretch mark! To be honest, I spent the next 4 years wishing the weight away but only making small efforts. I did lose 30 lbs in that time. I met my husband, who eats A LOT, and I gained 10 lbs back over our first 2 years. Then when pregnant with our son, I put on 50 lbs in gas station snacks and chocolate milk.

    My assumptions at the time: pre-packaged cherry cheese danishes are probably like 100-200 calories, because they’re snack-sized. Milk is good for you so it must be low in calories. Man, was I ignorant. When I finally looked at it one day, I was putting away 700 calories for a snack to “get me through to dinner”. Yes, I see how 3000 calories a day can happen. One snack like this a day.

    I realized – there are two types of food-good and bad. I cut out the bad while adjusting my appetite back down. With the mixture of cutting out bad foods AND cutting my appetite, I started exercising as well. NOTHING. 2 years after my son’s birth, I got stuck at 17 lbs less than I was the day after I had him. I counted my calories and learned I’m eating too little! I’m never tired and I feel good, and I eat 3 meals a day plus snacks… but with portions and low-calorie choices (I found out I was eating mostly a paleo diet), I was only eating 800-1000 calories a day. I talked to a personal trainer who told me while my body wasn’t in starvation, it was holding back my metabolism and it would not change unless I started eating 1200/day, at least most days.

    The first two weeks was hell. I was stuffing myself and gained 6 lbs. I felt horrid, too, even though I was still making healthy choices and watching intake levels of fat, sodium, cholesterol, and sugar. But after that, my appetite came up to match it and the 4th week I started losing.

    There’s so much more to the weight than numbers. How can you criticize someone who walks 10 miles a week, does pilates and kickboxing every week, and eats 1/3 the calories of the average American in healthy fresh foods? Oh, because all you see is 30 lbs overweight. It may have got there from irresponsible eating, but even there may be people who have lost 100 lbs to get to that point, so be kind.

  38. What the hell?? I’ve never met anybody who manages to scarf down 4000 calories a day. Hell, if I eat anymore than 1500 I feel sick! Americans aren’t THAT fat. Not yet, at least 😛

  39. I eat anywhere between 4000-5000 calories a day.

    All non-processed, organic foods.

    I’m 6’9″ and weight 210 lbs, which is actually a little thin for someone my height.

    I lift weights five times a week, run four times a week, and am in general an active person (except when I’m at work).

    By no means is this article correct in saying eating 4000 calories a day is more than half what people should eat (2000 calories).

    If you know how to diet, which includes GAINING weight when you want too, then you can eat 4k calories a day.

    I know a lot of people who eat just as much as me, are weight lifters, runners, bicyclists, and who in general EXERCISE.

    I guess 2000 calories a day is okay for people who don’t exercise ~shrugs~

    1. Jeremy, what you have said is pathetic and full of lies. I would love to see someone work out and lift weights 5x a week while maintaining 4x cardio throughout the week lollll. Total fail your tendons would snap from lack of rest. All that fat you shove into your face would decrease from pain in your joints due to supposedly “overtraining”

      Grow up you scumbag