Originally Posted by jjeand
As if this wasn't all hard enough...
"Currently, there are no federal standards to mandate acceptable levels of accuracy for calorie counts in restaurant-purchased foods, while packaged-food regulations require that the measured energy content in a random sample of 12 units must average no more than 120 percent of the stated calorie count on the label. "
Just read this on the news. Basically, if you don't make it yourself, it's gonna be off - maybe WAY off. I can't make everything from scratch and the world just seems out to make this all impossible
I don't worry about this too much. Let's say you ate, for example a 270 calorie healthy choice frozen dinner, and it was 120 percent of that, that would mean that the real calorie count would be only 324, a difference of only 54 calories. It's not a huge massive difference. If you want to be on the safe side then you can create the custom foods as the higher calorie amount, though some dinners will be less and some will be more than the 'official' calorie count on the box.
It will only be WAY OFF if the food you're eating is a very high calorie food, and most of us tend to avoid those. For example if you were to eat a 500 calorie meal (and some frozen dinners are even higher than that), and you ate 120 percent more than 500 calories, it would be 600 calories, a 100 calorie difference. That is more significant.
So if you want to be on the super safe side, just multiply the calorie counts on pre-packaged foods by 1.2 and log that as the number of calories. If you do this, do it with the knowledge that your calorie count will probably be overestimated and you still need to be able to eat enough to keep up your energy, so if you feel sluggish or tired because you overestimated the number of calories you ate, don't be afraid to eat some more vegetables or fruit to bring your true calorie total closer to what it should be to give your body enough energy to function.
One more thing, there's a good reason for this leeway. It's because they are dealing with real food and if you measure out, for example 4 ounces of chicken, and then measure out another 4 ounces of the same cut of chicken, the true calorie counts on those two seemingly identical bits of food will not be identical. One of them may have a slightly higher fat content than the other even though they're the same weight and even if they come from the same type of meat, like chicken breast. So because of this there has to be a little bit of margin of error. I think they make their best estimate on these foods.