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Diet & Nutrition, Health

What Does 500 Calories Look Like in Different Foods?

Samantha is an everyday health expert with a background in International Public Health and Psychology.
Reviewed by Zola Johnson
Zola Johnson is a Registered Nutritionist and Cosmetologist.

Fact Checked. Our dedicated editorial team tirelessly evaluates every article we publish to ensure the information is factual, up-to-date and free of bias.

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Everything we eat has a cost attached to it; not just a monetary cost, but the calorie count of the food we eat that really gets us.

Making dietary choices is challenging, but there are guidelines available: the average person requires between 2000 and 3000 calories (depending on height, weight, age, and level of physical activity).[1] That may seem like a lot, but you can easily cover it in a day.

To help you decide what to eat, here are some foods with approximately 500 calories that you probably consume often.

What Does 500 Calories Look Like?

Arby’s Beef ‘n Cheddar Classic w/ 1 tbsp. of Horsey sauce

Arby’s classic sized Beef ‘n Cheddar isn’t quite 500 calories, but once you add just 1 tbsp of Horsey sauce (less than 1 packet), it hits pretty quickly. A small order of curly fries adds another 331 calories to your meal.

Plain Bagel w/ Plain Cream Cheese

Bagels vary in size, but a plain bagel with one 3-oz packet of plain cream cheese will take you around 500-550 calories. If you use another packet of cream cheese (because let’s face it, one is only enough for half a bagel), you’re adding another 291 calories.

Large Belgian Waffle w/ 1.5 tbsp. Maple syrup

Just a Belgian Waffle and a slight drizzle of syrup is enough to hit 500 calories for breakfast. See below for more details on the calorie count of butter


Dunkin Donuts Medium Frozen Mint Chocolate Chip Coffee Coolatta with Skim Milk

Change to a medium or use 2% (or cream) instead of skim, and you’re adding 200-500 extra calories to this drink.

McDonalds Big Mac

The Big Mac is actually 550 calories, but if you leave a bite or two, you’ll be able to slide under the bar.

Bacon (~ 4 slices)

It only takes 4 slices of bacon to hit 500 calories. Add this to your Belgian waffle & DD Coolatta, and you can easily consume your daily caloric allowance.

Starbucks Venti Caramel Frappuccino w/ 2% milk & whipped cream

Starbucks may be overly sugary, but they run their business with a high level of morals, providing benefits to part-time workers and often overpaying for their coffee beans. If you’re feeling guilty about that DD Coolatta, this is a larger drink for the same 500 calories.

Subway 6-inch Black Forest Ham on Wheat Bread w/ Oil & Vinegar (no cheese or toppings)

Subway advertises themselves as being healthy, but the calories get you where you wouldn’t think. All it takes to hit 500 calories on a 6-inch ham on wheat, all you need to add is oil and vinegar.

Cheddar Cheese (4.5 oz)

Whether it’s a salad or a burger, it only takes 4.5 oz of cheese to add 500 calories to your diet.


Snickers Regular Size (2)

Candy is bad for you, but it’s not entirely because of calories. 2 bars will get you to 500 calories.

Skittles Regular Size (2)

The rainbow tastes like just under 500 calories by the time you’re finished polishing off 2 standard sized bags of this sweet treat.

Raw Golden Delicious Apple (5)

A golden delicious apple is 100 calories. Five apples a day keeps the craving for Snickers and Skittles away.

Jamba Juice Aloha Pineapple Original Size

It’s not just coffee drinks: smoothies have calories too. Adding a boost or upping the size at Jamba Juice adds 100+ calories.


It takes over half a dozen eggs to get to 500 calories. Cut it down to 2 eggs, and add small amounts of bacon & cheese for a well-rounded 500 calorie breakfast.


A 9-oz lean steak gets you just under 500 calories, but the seasonings you use can quickly raise that. Get a fattier steak, and the calories go up accordingly.

Chili’s Baby back Ribs Half rack

At 480 calories, Chili’s famous half rack of baby back ribs leaves you room for an iced tea or a couple French fries.


Banana (105 calories)

If you eat 5 bananas, you’ll have consumed the caloric equivalent of a Big Mac.


If you want to add more flavor to your food, here’s the calorie count of different condiments to get you started:

  • Ranch Dressing (80 calories per tbsp.)
  • Butter (102 calories per tbsp.)
  • Ketchup (19 calories per tbsp.)
  • Mustard (3 calories per tbsp.)
  • Hot Sauce (0 calories)

Bottom Line

Understanding what 500 calories look like in various foods can be useful for weight management and overall health.

It’s also worth noting that the quality of the calories consumed matters, as a 500-calorie meal made up of nutrient-dense foods will have a vastly different impact on the body than a 500-calorie meal made up of processed or high-fat foods.

By having a general idea of what 500 calories look like in various food groups, you can make more informed meal choices and achieve your health and fitness goals.

Featured photo credit: engin akyurt via unsplash.com


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