Calorie Counting

- POSTED ON: Apr 09, 2011


Sometimes I see inconsistencies between different Food Authorities
about the exact calorie count of a specific food.
I don’t think there is a way to really know which one of them is the most accurate.

It is always important to remember that Calorie Counts are ALL estimates,
even when they are written in books, online, or on menus and food labels.

I don't think it makes much difference which calorie counting source one uses.
Unless the calories are listed on the labels of the foods I use,

I ordinarily use the calorie counts listed in my software food journal, DietPower,
The source of which is a National Base. If it isn't in DietPower,
and I have no food label, there then I look at Calorie King,
or some other online source for a similar type of food.

I am doing the best I can to maintain my current weight,
or lose a few pounds. The idea of calorie counting
is just to do one's best to keep track of one’s food intake.
It is impossible to be totally accurate for a great many reasons.

First, my food measurements might not always be totally accurate,
for example, when I measure out 1/4 cup of dry oatmeal,
I fill a 1/4 cup as full as it goes.
The Oatmeal label says 1/4 cup equals x calories,
but it also says 1/4 cup is x grams...
Weighing out the grams shows that 1/4 cup is Less than full.
It is a very small difference, but these things can make quite a difference over time.

Another thing to be aware of is that the FDA only requires
food labels to be up to 20% accurate.
The reason those weights and measures laws exist
is to make certain the consumer isn’t shortchanged...
that is to make certain he/she gets at least that minimum amount of food.
Almost always, an inaccuracy is going to result in the consumer
getting MORE food ….which means a HIGHER calorie count that the label says.

Furthermore, labels aren't regulated very closely,
and there is a difference in accuracy between companies.
The very large food companies tend to be no more than 20% inaccurate,
but the smaller, mom and pop companies, can easily have up to a 50% error rate.

As a further example, fruit is now bred to be both larger and sweeter
than it used to be, but the calorie counts for fruits haven’t been increased.

What this means is,
no matter how closely one watches one's calories,
one is not going to be PERFECTLY accurate.
However, careful weighing and measuring food, and keeping track
in my food journal gives me the best chance of knowing my calorie number.

Those BMR or RMR numbers given by the charts showing the number of calories
that each of us burns, are based on either the Harris-Benedict or the Mifflin formulas.
These formulas were created from Averages, and are not necessarily accurate
for any one particular individual.

No matter what the Charts say my body's calorie burn rate should be,
if, over time, I gain weight on a specific calorie number,
I have to work to eat less than that calorie number.

Maybe I'm taking in more calories than I know,
Maybe I'm burning less calories than I know,
Bottom line, if...over time... I am gaining weight,
I have to...EAT LESS and move around a bit more.

Leave me a comment.

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Existing Comments:

On Apr 14, 2011 wrote:
Dr Collins I really like what you have said here. I need to get back to counting my calories again.

On Apr 14, 2011 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Irene, using the computer to track your food and count calories is SO helpful. Have you checked out the DietPower tracking program? There are many good ones out there, but DietPower is the one that I personally use.

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