The study was based on an analysis of 364 of the most popular entrees at American, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants in Boston, San Francisco and Little Rock, Ark., between 2011 and 2014. In each area, they included about a dozen restaurants across a range of cuisines, from American burger joints to Italian trattorias and Greek cafes. There were no significant differences in calorie counts between cities but some cuisines significantly differed in calories. Overall entrees averaged 1200 calories, but American, Chinese, Indian and Italian cuisines averaged even higher with nearly 1500 calories per entree.
What is the recommended limit for intake at a meal? Estimates are based on a person's gender, age and how physically active they are. For example, for weight maintenance, a moderately active (defined as doing at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking) woman aged 19-30, is recommended to have around 2,000 calories daily and 570 calories per meal, while a moderately active man of the same age is recommended to have around 2,600 calories daily and around 740 calories per meal. The calorie needs of persons who are older, less active, and/or of small stature need less. Even when age, gender, height, and activity are factored in, calorie needs vary tremendously from one individual to the next.