What is a Discretionary Calorie?

What is a Discretionary Calorie?

Discretionary Calorie Chips

Example of Discretionary Calories-Chips and Queso, these add very little to nutrient requirements for the day

Discretionary calorie was a term used by the USDA on the original MyPyramid to describe the “treats” eaten through the day.

With the coming of MyPlate, the USDA has done away with the terms “discretionary calorie.” USDA reasoning: What Happened to Discretionary Calories, Choose My Plate.

A discretionary calorie is any calorie consumed after eating all required nutrients for the day. This could include empty calories or helpful calories.

Discretionary calories rarely are above 15% of an individual’s eating for the day. Generally, children and older populations consume more discretionary calories because there is less of a metabolic need. Thus, these populations need to focus on nutrient density in their foods.

As always, before creating a diet plan, please consult with a medical expert.

Further Reading:

University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Discretionary Calories

Oregon State’s Discretionary Calories Information

Registered Dietitian’s Explanation recorded by Mass Live News

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