Makes me want to really re-consider bothering to add the calories up each day. Not that I DO, but when I do, I want it to be relatively accurate! I am not surprised though -- especially for restaurant foods -- it calories cannot be an exact science or amount without being weighed and tested every. single. time.
The accuracy of stated energy contents of reduced-energy restaurant foods and frozen meals purchased from supermarkets was evaluated. Measured energy values of 29 quick-serve and sit-down restaurant foods averaged 18% more than stated values, and measured energy values of 10 frozen meals purchased from supermarkets averaged 8% more than originally stated. These differences substantially exceeded laboratory measurement error but did not achieve statistical significance due to considerable variability in the degree of underreporting. Some individual restaurant items contained up to 200% of stated values and, in addition, free side dishes increased provided energy to an average of 245% of stated values for the entrees they accompanied. These findings suggest that stated energy contents of reduced-energy meals obtained from restaurants and supermarkets are not consistently accurate, and in this study averaged more than measured values, especially when free side dishes were taken into account. If widespread, this phenomenon could hamper efforts to self-monitor energy intake to control weight, and could also reduce the potential benefit of recent policy initiatives to disseminate information on food energy content at the point of purchase.
A little extra splootch of Mac Sauce here, a smidge of cheese there, it happens. That's why my suggestion is, OVERESTIMATE or round up. And if you don't think this matters, because "dieters" shouldn't be eating fast food -- this study was also done on foods like "Lean Cuisine" frozen diet meals, which, also had more calories than indicated.
Fooducate Blog -
If youâre scoffing and thinking that people wanting to lose weight shouldnât be in a fast food joint to begin with, weâve got more bad news. The researchers also checked 10 popular frozen meals and found an average 8% discrepancy, again skewing to a lower calorie count than was actually present. Lean Cuisineâs shrimp and angel-hair pasta claims 220 calories, but clocked in at 319 (45% more!).
Letâs have some back-of-an-envelope math fun, shall we?
If a supposedly 2000 calories-a-day diet is actually 18% higher in calories, that means 2360 calories or an extra 360 calories a day consumed. Since every 3500 calories are equivalent a pound to our body weight, approximately every ten days weâd gain one pound of body weight. In one month, weâd be up 3 lbs. In one year, a whopping 36 pounds!
I wish I could blame my recent gain on poor Lean Cuisine math.