Does consuming three carrots give everyone enough energy to walk three miles? No, that's not true: The National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics tells Lead Stories, "3 carrots cannot provide you (or anyone) with enough energy to walk 3 miles."
The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) on November 18, 2019, that featured a photo of a basketful of carrots. The caption opened:
Did you know?
3 carrots give you enough energy to walk 3 miles, and they were first grown as a medicine, not food.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Jan 10 23:36:09 2022 UTC)
Although there are two claims mentioned in this post, we are focusing on the portion that claims that three carrots give a person enough energy to walk three miles.
Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Lead Stories in a January 10, 2022, email:
3 carrots cannot provide you (or anyone) with enough energy to walk 3 miles. The number of calories needed to walk 3 miles is much greater than the number of calories that 3 carrots can provide you with.
3 carrots only provide 75 total calories, while it takes roughly 200-350 calories to walk 3 miles.
Every person has very unique and personalized needs, which need to be taken into account when determining a person's daily caloric needs and when calculating their energy expenditure. It looks very different for each person.
Carrots are nutrient dense, providing an excellent source of beta carotene and can be included into a healthy eating pattern, but it's important for a person to work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to figure out their individualized nutrient needs, because 3 carrots isn't enough nutrients needed to walk 3 miles.
A representative from the Department of Preventative Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine told Lead Stories in a January 7, 2022, email:
The average carrot contains 30kcals which would mean 3 carrots provide only ~90kcals total. Energy utilized during a walk or run will be dependent on multiple factors including an individual's basal metabolic rate, BMR (influenced age, sex, height, AND most importantly, weight). However, lowest general estimates of calories burned in ONE mile is around 100 kcals total. An individual running or walking three miles who only consumes three average carrots will most likely be in a caloric deficit. Thus, from an energy standpoint, three carrots do not provide enough energy to support a three-mile walk or run, unless that person's goal is to lose weight.
Similarly, Dr. Angela M. Zivkovic, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at UC Davis, told Lead Stories via email on January 7, 2022:
Well, all kinds of foods (whether it's carrots or bread or meat) that contain carbohydrate, protein and/or fat can provide calories for any work that the body does including walking. 3 carrots supply about 90 calories, which is probably adequate to fuel a 3-mile walk in some people, but not others depending on their total caloric intake, their body size, how fast they are walking etc.