Where Calories Come From: Top 15 Sources of Calories.

Pizza: an American food group.

Last month, we looked at the top sources of sodium - and how it’s possible to cut back on our salt intake. Today, let’s look at the top calorie sources for the average American male. By examining where our calories are coming from, we can restructure our diet to support our fitness goals and overall health.

Here’s how the list breaks down per day, according to the National Cancer Institute:

  1. Alcohol drinks: 162 calories
  2. Yeast breads: 161 calories
  3. Cakes, cookies, pies, etc.: 157 calories
  4. Soda: 157 calories
  5. Chicken: 148 calories
  6. Pizza: 122 calories
  7. Tortillas, burritos, tacos and nachos: 115 calories
  8. Beef steaks: 89 calories
  9. Pasta: 77 calories
  10. Burgers: 71 calories
  11. Hot dogs, bacon, sausage and ribs: 69 calories
  12. Dairy desserts: 62 calories
  13. French fries: 62 calories
  14. Chips: 60 calories
  15. Nuts and seeds: 59 calories

Obviously, this list would vary from person to person and culture to culture - so you’re top 15 might look very different.

Having said that, if you’re looking to cut back on calories (i.e., to facilitate the calorie deficit required for weight loss), then numbers 1 and 4 are a great place to start. Alcohol and soda might taste great, but they’re filled with empty calories; they add to your waistline and don’t contribute any nourishment to your body. And, of course, it’s not about eliminating these things altogether if they’re something you enjoy - it’s just about drinking one glass instead of two, or consuming a little less.

Cakes, cookies and pies - coming in at number 3 - are also easy to reduce. Opt for smaller slices or seek out healthier dessert options. Fresh berries, for example, are just as delicious and much more nutritious!

For me, the biggest shocker on the list is pizza. According to the researchers, the typical American male eats 122 calories from pizza each day. That’s more than 44,000 calories per year - the equivalent of more than 12 pounds of body fat. I love pizza as much as the next guy, but I also realize that it’s a special treat. Instead of eating pizza every week, I usually splurge once a month. And instead of eating the entire pizza, I just go for a few slices. It’s an easy area to cut back.

It would be great to see nuts (number 15) higher on the list, and it would be even better to see fruits and vegetables make the cut. Maybe next year? I’m not holding my breath. 😛

How does this list compare to your diet? What are some of the areas in which you can cut back?

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. But Davey, you make me want to order pizza with that picture of my delivery man!!! 🙂

    You are awesome. Thanks for this, but like you said…everyone is different. My problem was not any of the top four. My problem was portions. I fixed that and fixed myself.

  2. I don’t drink soda ever. After finding out you can use soda to clean your toilet or remove the paint from a car I never drank it again.

  3. Um pizza is an easy area for *you* to cut back on. Pizza is detrimental to my being. Blame it on TMNT.

    However, I had to sideline pizza recently ’cause it was driving my cholesterol way up. :[

  4. As a former daily alcohol user [whisky, cachaça, beer, wine, vodka, et cetera…] i had to say alcohol drinks are the hardest things to keep away, mainly when we’re surrounded by tv ads and relatives/friends who drink them every time they go out - u’ll feel socially excluded if u don’t drink with them. Chicken, breads, daily desserts and pasta are not easy to keep away of our lunchs and dinners, due they are part of several countries meal basis. The others are easier to get excluded because we can get alternatives for sugar and salt. Ok, they’re taste fabulous, but using that 80’s old fashioned jargon ‘no pain no gain’ [and yes Davey, I read and I remmber ur article about that phrase :-)] to get a good health and better shaped body we have to change our diet. Since May I stopped drinking soda and all kind of alcoholic drinks, i eat burgers and hot dogs very very often [i usually split them in 2 parts, I eat one and the other I will eat in next day, so I don’t keep that fat in my belly for a long time].

  5. Practically speaking, it would be very difficult for any non-starchy vegetable to crack this list. They simply aren’t calorically dense enough to account for a significant portion of daily intake, regardless of volume consumed. And that’s a good thing.

  6. I would like to see the reference where you are getting these data.

    • It is in the article…”Here’s how the list breaks down per day, according to the National Cancer Institute”.
      It is okay to be skeptical about information, but in this case you could have done your own research to find it. It kind of seems like a dick-ish comment.

      • The NCI has many, many such studies. I don’t see anything wrong with asking for the reference for these exact data. I challenge you to find these data at the NCI without a reference.

        • I think these data are from here:
          The data are an aggregate of all males over 19 years old from 5 years ago. The differences by age group in the original data are striking - reader beware.

          • John, as you said… you challenge me to find them… and well, yes, I found the reference as well. http://riskfactor.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/energy/table2a.html
            My question was to the nature of your question. Were you trying to find more information about this topic? Where you challenging the statements made here? This article is not misleading. Davey never said this applies to all 19 year olds or all 71 year olds. Or you for that matter. This is an aggregate, which is how it was presented. It is meant to point out where the ‘average’ American can make some improvements in their lives. If you want an article that just speaks to you, why don’t you write it yourself. I even stated already that this list is not MY issue. I still find it informative about the issue men face in their fight to stay fit. So, Thanks Davey for doing what I come to your site to find…

          • p.s. When reading the article, did you think that maybe 21 year olds might consume more alcohol than a 71 year old?

          • All I asked for was a reference. Credibility is always enhanced with a reference. It seems like you just want someone to argue with.

          • Davey has credibility already. He doesn’t have to prove it to you. The NCI has credibility as well. Do you ask newspapers or magazines to give you MLA standard bibliographies for each article you read? I stand by my statement… if you want it proven to you, find it yourself or find something that dis-proves the article. It was an unnecessary question and that’s why I felt a need to call you out on it.

          • Yes, in fact when scientific data such as these are presented, it is customary to have references to the source. You are not calling me out on anything - you are proving your own ignorance on the matter.

          • I never claimed to be a reporter. I just call out BS when I see it. I am also not lazy and do research when I see something of interest. Here is, in fact, the guidelines from the AP on Attributing Sources:

            We should give the full name of a source and AS MUCH information as needed to identify the source and explain why he or she is credible. Where appropriate, include a source’s age; title; name of company, organization or government department; and hometown.
            If we quote someone from a written document – a report, e-mail or news release — we should say so…
            The goal is to provide a reader with enough information to have full confidence in the story’s veracity.”
            I stand by the fact that this article met that standard. You yourself found the information, as did I within 15 minutes of looking. You are proving my point JOHN…

  7. christopher says:

    every single item-1 thru 15-ive eliminated-that is why ive lost over 60lbs over the year-got 40 to go-and im done-DW-YOUVE PROVED MY POINT SO SO WELL.-THANK YOU.

  8. christopher says:

    PIZZA-PASTA-AND BEER-downfall of the U.S.A.China-will win the hand to hand combat in the streets of America-when China invades the U.S.A.-China will win-because they are not obese.i as an American will fight these obese fat ass Americans-mano a mano.China will take over the World-simply because they are not obese.i would luv to see America fall-from Toronto,Ontario.-or Niagara Falls-all that obese smoke-sick but true.oh-that obese American fat ass will be defeated.Long Live the non-obese world-defeat the ignorant fat-ass obese Americans.