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Calorie Myths and Accuracy of Food Nutrition Labels

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  • Calorie Myths and Accuracy of Food Nutrition Labels

    In regards to Mark’s post from last week, “9 More Calorie Myths We Should All Stop Believing”, the myth Mark talks about in “Conscious regulation of one’s energy intake and expenditure is possible”, makes sense in regards to trying to balance energy intake against energy expenditure as a fool's errand, but also makes me wonder if the same is true of nutrient percentages.

    If people are so bad at tracking and estimating their calorie intake, how can we be sure we are doing a better job when it comes to our nutrient intake? I understand eating the right kinds of foods (i.e. steak instead of a Big Mac) minimizes the impact of a miss here, but if we think we’re eating 500 calories when we’re really eating 800, then what does that do to our estimates of protein, fat, carb percentages, etc. and does it matter? And if in fact the calorie counts of foods is subject to wide variation (by as much as 20% I think I recall?) then does that apply to nutrient contents as well?

    Having said all of that, taking a results oriented approach and not constantly calculating my ratios of fat vs. carb vs protein every time I eat will probably work as well as anything and provide a less stressful approach.

    Thoughts?
    "But the question is, are you going to die sitting on the sofa - or doing something interesting?"
    - Robert Ward

    "Kharma means I can rest easy at night, knowing all those people I treated badly today really had it coming!"

  • #2
    I don't think any type of tracking is perfect, whether it's calories, macros, or micronutrients, but it's the best we have to work with as far as quantifying any of it goes. Most people do what you proposed and just go by how they're feeling and their results, so it's obviously not necessary to track anything, but if you do, just know that it's an imperfect system that can still be useful. Common data can be unreliable, but until something better comes along, it's the standard.
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    • #3
      Counting is so fallible that it simply doesn't matter.

      Thats why an ancestral template is the best basic tool. Beyond that a bit of eyeballing is as specific as one need get.

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      • #4
        I think for people trying to lose weight, it's a good idea to have an inkling of calories counts of foods, just to know which to avoid and which to indulge in. Even if they're not that precise, knowing that a cup of raspberries contains fewer calories than a tablespoon of peanut butter is helpful. But trying to precisely determine how many calories you're taking in to balance it with a number you think you're using, is madness.

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        • #5
          Cleaning up diet and eyeballing portions will give people a start, but they will fail soon if they don’t have a clue - as most of them don’t have anyway - about the underlying mechanisms of energy in foods and how to measure and balance calories and macros. I am talking about people trying to lose weight here, it’s not that difficult to lose some weight when having lots of body fat but when getting leaner you need to fine-tune stuff and be more exact about what you are doing. Most people are just too sloppy, inaccurate and plain out stupid, so they’ll maybe be better off by paying a good diet coach a solid amount of money, give him dictatorial mandates, and just follow exactly what he order! Other people that have discipline and now-how to put it all together will still use calorie estimates and portion control as the best instrument to get to their goals, but that may not be for everybody…
          "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

          - Schopenhauer

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          • #6
            Chances are that anyone making a decision to eat primally has a heath motivation to do so and has already acquired or is in the process of acquiring a reasonable understanding of the nutrient content of various foods. Some accounting is inevitable, especially while a goal is being sought.

            My goal was to reduce inflammation which required no counting, per se. Just avoidance of the inflammatory foods. But, I started primal eating as part of a leptin reset protocol that did involve counting of macro intake. Although I wasn't trying to lose weight specifically, I had spent years counting calories to maintain a targeted weight that, technically, was 20 lbs too heavy. The macro counting for the leptin reset was 50 g of carb (with 0 grain, legume or nightshades), 120 g of protein and unlimited fat, daily. The counting worked. Inflammation was cured. I lost weight and dropped 20 lbs below target, down to my ideal set point.

            Counting calories never worked for me when I tried to lose or maintain a weight level. Counting grams of carbs and protein and satisfying remaining food needs with fat did work.

            I think when one has achieved their goals, counting of anything is less important. But when goal seeking is underway, counting of something related to the goal and that works for you, is worthwhile.
            Stop by to visit at http://primalways.net
            Old Paths ... New Journeys

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            • #7
              Calorie counting (and macro counting) works for me. It may be inaccurate, but it is all relative.

              http://maggiesfeast.wordpress.com/
              Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                Counting is so fallible that it simply doesn't matter.

                Thats why an ancestral template is the best basic tool. Beyond that a bit of eyeballing is as specific as one need get.
                Works for me.
                You'll never see the light if you're in someone else's shadow, or said another way, life is like a dog sled team, if you're not the lead dog, the scenery never changes

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by John Caton View Post
                  Chances are that anyone making a decision to eat primally has a heath motivation to do so and has already acquired or is in the process of acquiring a reasonable understanding of the nutrient content of various foods. Some accounting is inevitable, especially while a goal is being sought.

                  My goal was to reduce inflammation which required no counting, per se. Just avoidance of the inflammatory foods. But, I started primal eating as part of a leptin reset protocol that did involve counting of macro intake. Although I wasn't trying to lose weight specifically, I had spent years counting calories to maintain a targeted weight that, technically, was 20 lbs too heavy. The macro counting for the leptin reset was 50 g of carb (with 0 grain, legume or nightshades), 120 g of protein and unlimited fat, daily. The counting worked. Inflammation was cured. I lost weight and dropped 20 lbs below target, down to my ideal set point.

                  Counting calories never worked for me when I tried to lose or maintain a weight level. Counting grams of carbs and protein and satisfying remaining food needs with fat did work.

                  I think when one has achieved their goals, counting of anything is less important. But when goal seeking is underway, counting of something related to the goal and that works for you, is worthwhile.
                  Did you take dairy out too?
                  You'll never see the light if you're in someone else's shadow, or said another way, life is like a dog sled team, if you're not the lead dog, the scenery never changes

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                  • #10
                    I think for people trying to lose weight, it's a good idea to have an inkling of calories counts of foods

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tewyuanagu View Post
                      I think for people trying to lose weight, it's a good idea to have an inkling of calories counts of foods
                      I could never have lost and maintained my weight without weighing portions and counting calories. I had no idea how big my portions were. Also, if I do not weigh my food, my portions creep up. I tend to eat the same basic diet so it becomes very easy to do. I make sure I get enough protein, keep my carbs where I want them and let fat be whatever it needs to be to get enough calories. I continue to be amazed at how little food we actually need. No wonder obesity is on the rise.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mainer View Post
                        Did you take dairy out too?
                        I never took dairy out, but I was not a milk drinker or a heavy dairy user even before. I maintained a moderate use of some cheese, butter and whey. I actually added cream at the time. I'm a heavier user of dairy now, than I was then. Before, I assumed it added too many calories. Back then, a calorie was a calorie, regardless of the source.
                        Stop by to visit at http://primalways.net
                        Old Paths ... New Journeys

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                        • #13
                          I am a big believer in calorie counting if you are serious about permanent fat loss, more for the knowledge and understanding you can get doing it (regarding the structure of various foods) than because I believed you can really accurately count them.

                          Don't know if this has been posted yet:

                          Why most food labels are wrong about calories

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for the link Rushie, very interesting. That article contends that calorie counts are typically too high on food labels since they don't account for the calories lost during the digestion process. As Atrbuc said, "I continue to be amazed at how little food we actually need. No wonder obesity is on the rise."
                            "But the question is, are you going to die sitting on the sofa - or doing something interesting?"
                            - Robert Ward

                            "Kharma means I can rest easy at night, knowing all those people I treated badly today really had it coming!"

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                            • #15
                              Some calories are not counted entirely. For example, lactic acid is usually not counted.
                              My opinions and some justification

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