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Silly question about citrus fruit calories

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Old 02-08-2010, 10:34 AM   #1
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Default Silly question about citrus fruit calories

I basically have known the calorie count for every fruit and veggie since I was 15 years old, so I thought. My mom and I used to count calories way back when and we would always split a grapefruit with our breakfast and we called it 40 calories, (for 1/2). Every calorie book in the world back then said a grapefruit was 80 calories. So I buy a bag of grapefruit the other day and I was taking one out and I notice the nutritional information on the bag. It said one grapefruit was 120 calories. WHAT??? My whole life a medium size grapefruit was 80 calories...lol

When you look up calorie info on fruit I would assume it includes the skin. Like an apple for example. Most of us eat the skin. A peach, a pear...we eat the skin, so I assume the calorie counts include the skin, but with citrus fruit most of us discard the skin and the membranes. So are the calorie counts for citrus only for the actual fruit, or is the skin also included in the count?

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Old 02-08-2010, 10:37 AM   #2
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I basically have known the calorie count for every fruit and veggie since I was 15 years old, so I thought. My mom and I used to count calories way back when and we would always split a grapefruit with our breakfast and we called it 40 calories, (for 1/2). Every calorie book in the world back then said a grapefruit was 80 calories. So I buy a bag of grapefruit the other day and I was taking one out and I notice the nutritional information on the bag. It said one grapefruit was 120 calories. WHAT??? My whole life a medium size grapefruit was 80 calories...lol

When you look up calorie info on fruit I would assume it includes the skin. Like an apple for example. Most of us eat the skin. A peach, a pear...we eat the skin, so I assume the calorie counts include the skin, but with citrus fruit most of us discard the skin and the membranes. So are the calorie counts for citrus only for the actual fruit, or is the skin also included in the count?
I'd peel and weigh.
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:44 AM   #3
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I don't recall exactly where I read this -- I think it was in one of Michael Pollan's books -- but apparently, they've been breeding fruits for sweetness, and thus, more sugar, thus calorie counts have gone up in many varieties over time.
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:57 AM   #4
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The calorie count only includes the edible portions of the fruit. There are many fruits that you can't eat the peel on and that includes citrus fruit. Therefore, only the meat of the grapefruit is counted as the caloric factor.

Most of the sites I found said at least 120 calories for the meat and membrane of the grapefruit. This would not include the peel.
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:58 AM   #5
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I don't recall exactly where I read this -- I think it was in one of Michael Pollan's books -- but apparently, they've been breeding fruits for sweetness, and thus, more sugar, thus calorie counts have gone up in many varieties over time.

WELL CRAP!

I guess that explains why they seem to taste SO much better than when I was a kid.

Oh well, I guess I still lost 190 pounds by calling a grapefruit 80 calories, (and I've eaten a ton of them!). But it's going to suck having to write down 120 now especially after buying a 20 pound bag!

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Old 02-08-2010, 11:03 AM   #6
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Yeah, it stinks, but on the other hand, as you say, grapefruit does taste a lot better these days.
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Old 02-08-2010, 11:38 AM   #7
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I haven't eaten grapefruit since I was a kid, a long time ago. Maybe I'll have to try one again now that they are supposedly sweeter. I'm not big on fruits, but once in a while it can be a good thing.
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Old 02-08-2010, 11:52 AM   #8
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"Medium" has changed meaning too, just like with clothes Check out FitDay maybe, I think in most cases they give a diameter or circumference to go with each "size" of fruit.
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:50 PM   #9
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Fitday still has 80 calories (well, 81.9) for a 4" diameter, medium grapefruit. Large with a 4.5" diameter comes in at 106.2.

I quickly looked at a couple of other sites and they had the same. So maybe these are really huge and a few more calories? However, I'd also see how thick the skin is when you eat them. I had some last week that were really, really big, but when I peeled them, the skin was twice as thick as normal, and the inside part was about the same as the inside of a normal large sized one, so that's how I counted them on Fitday.

(and fwiw, when I remembered I hadn't been eating grapefruit for a while, I made sure to eat one every day and lost 3 lbs last week! Maybe coincidence, but maybe not.....)
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:53 PM   #10
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I have seen some fluctuations in published counts for grapefruit, on the bags themselves. Got some from my mom at Christmas that were over-sized Ruby Reds that listed as 140 on the box, got regular pink from my local store that listed as 80 on the bag. Maybe it is the type you got this time?
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Old 02-08-2010, 05:06 PM   #11
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oh, doh! I never bothered to look up PINK grapefruit on fitday. It is more calories, which makes sense because it does taste so much sweeter.

Fitday has a small diameter (3.75 inches) PINK grapefruit as 103.3 calories, which would be a large more in that 120 calorie area.

But personally, while I do measure and weigh and count veggies and esp. fruit, I'm not going to fret if I go a few calories over target if that's where the calories are coming from. I try to build some slack into my tracking anyway, just in case I've underestimated anything.
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Old 02-25-2010, 01:41 AM   #12
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I always add between 10-25 calories to counts given for produce, because it's hard to eyeball and I don't have a scale. Though it's just now occurring to me that I can look at my receipt and divide the weight by the amount I bought.

But half of a 120 calorie grapefruit is only 20 calories more than you thought you were eating anyway, so even if they have gotten a little sweeter over the years, it shouldn't effect your eating plan in any way.
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:50 PM   #13
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You have to weigh or measure everything to really know calorie counts. What is a medium grapefruit - how much does it weigh? Your medium grapefruit may be larger or smaller than what I consider a medium grapefruit. Calories also change depending on variety and where it was grown, how ripe it was, etc.
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Old 02-25-2010, 04:18 PM   #14
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Because of selective breeding, fruits have been consistently becoming larger and sweeter over time, which is why (in part) calorie counting resources are constantly being updated. Serving sizes change and the foods themselves change.

I do like using a food scale and prefer resources that list the calorie count by weight. I use an exchange plan to count my calories (and encourage balance, since I tend to eat in food group "jags" otherwise). Exchange plans are a little more forgiving of estimation, for example the calories for a fruit exchange has to fall between 50 and 75 calories. It's a lot easier for me to be confident that my fruit choice does fall in that range, than to be sure that a piece of fruit has exactly 55 calories.

I'm not criticising "straight" calorie counting, because the estimation factor is still there no matter which method you use. For me, I'm more comfortable with exchange plans because I've used them most often in past dieting efforts since I joined Weight Watcher's with my mother for the first time in 1974 when I was 8 years old (the youngest age WW would accept, requiring a doctor's recommendation).

As a result, I have more foods memorized by exchange than by calorie. Though I have a lot of calorie counts memorized too, and use calorie counting resources to determine the exchange "translation" if I can't find a food listed in my exchange counting resources.

In nearly 40 years of dieting, I have seen how some foods have remained very consistent in calories/serving over time, and others have changed significantly. Fruits and vegetables seem to be the most variable, but animal proteins have changed too. Pork, for example has become much leaner (again due to selective breeding) and therefore significantly lower in calorie per ounce.

Fascinating stuff (well, at least if you're a diet geek, like me).
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