Starving Dietitian

Calorie Con

With the recent craze in personal activity tracking, the next logical step is to combine it with food logging. Calories in and calories out right? Well, there’s just one problem.

Your calorie counts are probably lying to you.

Most people assume there’s some variation between what they’re eating and the number of calories stated on food labels. What they don’t realize is just how different it can legally be.

When I worked in food science I once had the task of decreasing the amount of sodium in a product. All in all a noble cause. However, I was told to keep it within 20% of the label. Why only 20%? If it varied more than that they would have to reprint all the packaging!

Wait a minute, you’re saying products are allowed to vary from the label by 20%?

Yes, yes I am. Same goes for calories too.

Don’t believe me? Watch and learn.

So aside from the subway sandwich in the video most of these products varied from +10% to +20%. That is an incredible amount considering a difference of just 500 calories daily results in ~1lb per week.

My suggestion? Take labels with a grain of salt. If you’re really set on counting calories, be cautious and add an extra 10% onto the food labels. Even then you’re probably getting more than you think.

The more you know.

Be good to each other.

-J. Iufer

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