Can you believe the calorie counts on those labels?

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 10.49.19 PMGreat opinion article from the New York Times on the inaccuracy of the calorie counts on nutrition labels.  The author took 5 items and compared calorie count listed on the labels with the true calorie count from an actual calorimetry measurement.  Turns out it can range anywhere from being spot on (Subway sandwich) to almost double the amount listed (tofu sandwich).  Of course there will always be some degree of variation when foods are made and no label can be exact, the fact that they almost all underestimate the total amount is a little deceiving.

The author acknowledges that this is not a conclusive study, and he only measured one sample of each food, but it really gives you something to think about.

Despite the fact that we know the whole calories in vs calories out way of thinking is extremely incomplete, and doesn’t take into the account the types of calories as well as the subsequent hormonal responses elicited, calories still do matter.

So even if you try really hard to track everything you eat, you probably still need to program in an additional 10-30% margin of error.  So if you calculate your daily consumption to be 2000 calories, if your goal is to lose weight, you should probably estimate that your actual caloric intake to be in the range of 2200-2600 calories.

This probably means the macronutrient numbers are also way off…

3 Responses to Can you believe the calorie counts on those labels?

  1. Dan says:

    Manufactured foods ftw!

    Easier to track calories on a paleo routine?
    Skip the packaged food all together?

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Ya, I try to skip packaged food as much as possible.. but sometimes can’t help it.

      I wouldn’t say it’s easier to track calories on a paleo routine because most of the time you’re cooking yourself, and if you want to have an accurate estimate you may need to weigh your foods. The beauty of cooking things yourself is that you have control over what things you add. When you go to restaurants you have no idea how much sugar, cornstarch, etc. they add to the dishes.

      I eat a lot of bacon and eggs and just go off the numbers provided in the packaging for those things though.

  2. […] Maybe I’m eating more carbs than I think, since I know that food labels can be way off […]

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