I think we can all agree that one of the best things about settling down to watch a movie in the movie theater is getting comfy in those seats, staring at the big screen, and picking at that buttery, sweet, or salty, deliciousness that is popcorn.
You may even opt for a nice cold drink to wash it down with too. After all, you’re out for the day and this is a treat, right?
Well, a treat it certainly should be, you may not realize it but as your mindlessly munching away and slurping up that soda as you are transported to a new and exciting world, you’re actually consuming tons of calories.
In fact, there can be as much as a whopping whole day’s calories in a large tub of popcorn.
Now, I was never under the impression that snacking at popcorn at the cinema was the epitome of health, but I certainly didn’t think that I was picking away at my whole day’s calorie allowance as well as a whole lot of sodium and saturated fats.
How Many Calories Are There?
According to research, your favorite movie snack can range from as little as 400 calories up to a huge 1,200 calories. You could also be consuming anywhere between one to three whole days’ worth of saturated fat and as much as 1,500 milligrams of sodium.
If you decide to add some candy to the mix, you could be looking at adding another 300 to over 1000 calories. Wash it down with a sugarific drink and that’s another 150-500 calories too.
So while you’re busy watching the latest anticipated movie, you could accidentally consume upwards of 2000 calories without even realizing it. And then also go out for tea afterward. Ouch.
The popcorn research didn’t stop there though, samples of popcorn and their tasty toppings from three of the most popular movie theatres were sent to a lab for nutritional analysis, and I have a feeling you’re not going to love the results that they found.
Regals popcorn may be bite-size but there’s nothing small about the calorie content. If you’re looking to cut down your calories then you may want to avoid the popular movie theatre snack.
According to Regals, a medium popcorn will set you back just over 700 calories while a large teeters close to 1000. However, the results in the lab showed something a little different.
In fact, both sizes contained around 20 cups of popcorn and individually came to around 1200 calories each. Not only this but they contained 60g of saturated fat.
If that doesn’t sound too bad to you, let me put it into perspective. That amount of calories could get you two personal pan pepperoni pizzas from Pizza hut, and you’d still need to add an additional two days’ worth of saturated fat to the equation.
This company isn’t much better either. Similar to Regals, AMC chooses to pop their popcorn in coconut oil. This isn’t great considering coconut oil contains approximately 90% saturated fat.
A large popcorn tub from AMC will set you back 1,030 calories and contains 57 grams of saturated fat.
If you’re looking to cut back your calories, and you can’t curb that popcorn craving, then you’ll want to watch your favorite films at Cinemark.
This movie theatre is the only one to pop their popcorn in non-hydrogenated canola oil, which results in a much smaller saturated fat content.
While this is the ‘healthiest’ of the three, you can still expect to say goodbye to the majority of your day’s calories. A small popcorn tub isn’t too bad at 420 calories, but the large bucket is still going to cost you just over 900 calories.
However, the saturated fat content is significantly better, with a small containing as little as 2g of saturated fat and a large containing just 5g.
Don’t Forget The Butter
If you’re not a fan of bland and plain popcorn and let’s face it who is? Then you’re going to need to add another 120-130 calories to the mix and upwards on 9g of saturated fat per tablespoon to douse the stuff in butter.
Even if you’re good enough to say no to buttering up your popcorn, there’s still the salt content to deal with. Most popcorn is seasoned with quite a lot of salt.
For your smallest popcorn sizes, you may be looking at around 210 milligrams of sodium but upgrade to a large and you’re looking at an absolute monstrous 1,500 milligrams of sodium.
As most movie fanatics are probably well aware, you can often be tempted to purchase a special offer combo when you take a trip to the movie theatre. But while this may help you save some extra cash, save your calorie intake it will not.
If you settle in with a combo at Regal, you’ll have a medium-sized popcorn in one hand, and a medium soda to slurp down in the other.
And while that may not seem like all that much, in your hands you hold over 1,600 calories. Now that’s a lot of calories to consume before the credits role.
Again, let me put that into perspective for you. To consume that many calories you’d need to scramble six large eggs and load them with cheddar cheese, add four strips of bacon, and finish off with an additional four sausages.
Your soda choices can range from around 16 ounces – 44 ounces depending on the theatre and so that can be anywhere between 150 – 500 liquid calories to add to the mix. Regal’s largest soda also has as much as 33 heaped teaspoons of sugar.
And if you like to also treat yourself to some candy, then you can be making an already calorific snack meet new and unheard-of heights.
A 3.5-ounce box of Sour Jacks will add another 300 calories to the tally, while an 8-ounce Reese’s Pieces pack will add another 1,160 calories and another 35g of saturated fat.
Going all out at the cinema won’t kill you if it’s every once in a while as a super special treat. I’m not going to rob you of the expierence, don’t worry.
However with that being said, from this article, you can probably see that it’s not something you should be doing on the regular.
Snackin on some candy, soda, and buttery popcorn at the movie theatre can skyrocket you past your recommended calories for the entire day, and you can be eating multiple days’ worth of saturated fat.
This may not be such a bad thing, I mean it definitely is but you may have been able to overlook it a little more if it wasn’t for the fact that this is all completely empty calories.
This means that this won’t be all you’re eating for the day since it’s literally just snacks.
You’ll have probably already eaten breakfast and lunch, and you’ll probably be likely to eat dinner later on in the evening, so the amount of calories you’re going to consume throughout the day is going to be absolutely astronomical.
My advice would be for regular visits to just share a small unbuttered popcorn with a friend. When the three chains mentioned above were asked by CSPI, they all stated that if you requested a batch of salt-free popcorn they’d make it.
So this is always an option too, and an added plus…fresh popcorn. Remember, you don’t have to deny yourself every time you go out for a treat, but your health is super important.
Everything in moderation is okay, maybe instead of going all out for the full shebang, you could pick one option to cut down those calories.
If you liked this article, you might enjoy our post, ‘Everything You Need To Know About AMC Stubs Rewards‘.