The first thing people look at when examining a product’s nutrition label is its calorie count. Many a purchase decisions are reinforced or changed based on that one number, usually 3 digits long. The lower the better.
For people trying to lose weight, this makes sense. Consuming too many calories will lead to weight gain. To lose just half a pound a week, you need to reduce your daily calorie intake by 250 compared to maintaining weight.
So paying attention to the calories (AND the serving size) is a good way to gauge your daily intake and see if it is in line with your plan. But what happens when you can’t rely on the calorie information?
According to FDA regulations, calorie information on packages must be accurate with a margin of error of 20%. Which means you could be off by as much as 100 calories on a 500 calorie entree. Statistically you would expect the overages to cancel out the underages (is there such a word??).
But as filmmaker Casey Neistat shows us in a 5 minute video on the New York Times website, most manufacturers err towards the plus side. Granted, he mostly looks at foods prepared in small batches, where variations are large. But think of your own kitchen. Unless you are meticulously measuring every single ingredient going into your salad, fish entree, or cereal bowl, you will be way off on your calorie total by the end of the day.
Anyone want to suggest a solution?