HONOLULU (KHON2) — Weight. It is an issue that nearly all of us think about. We worry about how much we are eating, how much exercise we are doing, whether we should indulge in that treat. Lots of people rely on dieting schemes to help their bodies dump weight. These are popular because, basically, someone else is doing the thinking for you.

But dieting inevitably fails since most diets rely on denial of calories and restriction of foods. So, we drop the diets and binge on the things we missed out on while on the diet, causing more weight gain in the end.

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Many of us have pretty strenuous jobs. As a way of how much we are producing as workers in our modern world, KHON2.com took a look at the Economic Policy Institute‘s data on wages and production since 1948.

According to the EPI, workers’ wages between 1948 and 1973 rose 91.3% as worker productivity increased by 96.7% through those years. However, since 1974, workers’ wages only increased 108.9% while worker productivity has increased by 243.1%.

Hence, the amount of food that workers needed 50 years ago are nowhere near the amount that needs to be consumed today.

This made KHON2.com wonder how to navigate a workplace where many of us are too busy to even eat. So, we turned to Nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Therapy Consultants here in Honolulu, Kristen Lindsey-Dudley.

She identifies herself as an anti-diet dietician and works with her clients help them develop a healthier systemic approach to their food and nutrition needs. Lindsey-Dudley helped us navigate the world of calories versus work.

“People need to nourish themselves well throughout the day, explained Lindsey-Dudley. “I always tell my patients that the reason why the federal government pays for school breakfasts for kids is that when kids don’t have breakfast, they don’t think as well. They don’t learn as well. By having a school breakfast, where they get milk, and they get a certain amount of protein and some carbs, that they actually do better, as far as their thinking goes. This applies to all of us. We think better when we feed ourselves well through the day.”

Lindsey-Dudley said that fat and protein play a big role in securing enough nutrition for our brains and bodies to do the work we need to do. Many of us will snack throughout the day without having proper meals. We will have coffee for breakfast instead of food.

It is these behaviors that lead us to snack and binge, snack and binge over and over and over again. We end up not eating food when our brains and bodies need the nutrition which leads us to eat more than we need once we have begun winding down for the day.

“If people don’t feed themselves well, when they finally get off of work, our bodies will find a way to get the calories that it needs,” explained Lindsey-Dudley. “A lot of people are doing something where they’re kind of under eating through a time when they need to be eating, and they’re eating a lot when they need to be sort of simmering down and not eating so much.”

Now that we know we need to be eating more in order to facilitate our work skills and goals, let’s take a look at how many calories you are burning.

Office workers = approximately 100 calories per hour

Office workers spend their days typing and thinking. These activities actually require calories to do well. The more we consume while we are working, the better our output will be, said Lindsey-Dudley.

So, if you are working eight hours a day, then you are burning a minimum of 800 calories for eight hours of work.

Teachers = between 300-500 calories per hour

Teachers work hard, but downtime at school is a premium that few teachers have. Since teachers are the reason any of us know the things we know, it is imperative that teachers get the nutrition their brains need in order to prepare entire generations of people for their futures. And most teachers work in the day and raise a family at night, making their hours of work much longer than most.

Teachers, then, are burning between 3,000 and 5,000 calories for 10 hours of work. These 10 hours may encompass breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Obviously, teachers who have much more physically demanding work will have higher caloric requirements.

Service industry

The service industry is Hawaii is massive. We cater to tourists which means we need to cater to our caloric intake needs. For this, we will look at fast food, restaurant workers and retail workers.

Fast food = 400-600 calories per hour

It is approximated that fast food workers burn a lot of calories. From standing to cook for eight to ten hours to standing at registers, cleaning the restaurant and stocking, fast food workers good an excellent work out.

This means that fast food workers are burning between 3,200 and 4,800 calories for an eight-hour shift.

Restaurant workers = 500-700 calories per hour

Restaurant workers do copious amounts of running and walking through their shift. It is a high demand, high stress job that requires a good of mental and physical energy.

Hence, restaurant workers are burning between 4,000 and 5,600 calories for an eight-hour shift.

Retail workers = 400-700 calories per hour

Retail work is as demanding as other service industry jobs. Standing, walking, stocking and cleaning all day burns calories.

So, retail workers are burning between 3.200 calories and 5,600 calories for an eight-hour shift.

Housekeepers = 300-500 calories per hour

Housekeeping is a rather intensive gig. If you are working eight hours of housekeeping, then you are burning between 2,400 and 5,000 calories per day.

There are some pretty intensive housekeeping situations like with hotels and resorts. While there is no specific information regarding this particular subset of housekeeping, you may be burning even more calories than someone who is a housekeeper for private residences.

Manual labor

Manual labor has a fairly wide range of jobs from managers to on the ground workers. Lindsey-Dudley said it is difficult to determine the number of calories for this group since there are so many factors in play.

Suffice to say, those who are working in offices can rely on the caloric intake information for office workers. Those who are on the ground but are operating large machines or who are support staff can rely on the caloric advice for service industry workers.

But for those who are climbing onto buildings to construct or who are in the trenches performing physical labor will need to consume similar amounts of calories as athletes.


Now, not all our calories have to be eaten in structured meals. Those cravings for food you get while at work? That’s your body telling you that you need fat and protein; so, your brain and muscles work properly.

Lindsey-Dudley said not to shy away from snacks but not to reach for those candy bars. She said that planning snacks is the best way to get what you need without consuming empty calories that do nothing to maintain energy levels.

“Try to plan snacking and include protein and fat in our snacks,” explained Lindsey-Dudley. “This will give us sustained blood sugar as opposed to grabbing candy, you know that Halloween candy or whatever, which is all carbohydrate. It’s, it basically dumps into your system that it pulls down quickly. You end up with low blood sugar. You feel like junk, and you want to go eat another one. This is where problem starts.”

What does she tell her clients to do?

“I tell people don’t even eat just an apple for a snack because it’s almost all carbohydrate,” added Lindsey-Dudley. “Have an apple and peanut butter. Have an apple and cheese. Bring in the protein and fat from nuts or from the trail mix. Those kinds of foods are really good.”

Lindsey-Dudley also recommends staying away from meal replacement bars and energy drinks. As processed foods, they don’t offer the same nutritional value as things like nuts and cheese.

Lindsey-Dudley’s best advice to you? Don’t get bogged down with meticulously counting calories. Your body is capable of telling you what you need. We simply have to take the time to listen.

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This caloric information is merely a suggestion. For your personal health, you need to consult a trusted physician and/or nutritionist to determine what is best for you and your lifestyle.