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Why Calorie Counting

A popular method of weight loss is simple calorie-counting. Unfortunately we are at the disposal of the people who publish the nutritional information who may not be honest about calorie counts--or may have conducted sloppy nutritional analysis on their foods. To compound the problem, various establishments might not adhere to the ‘standard portion’ that the calorie counts were based on. I’ll break down the issues:

Restaurants: Can You Trust the Nutritional Stats?

This past May ABC Action News hired an EPA-certified laboratory to analyze meals ordered at various restaurant chains to see if the reported nutritional stats on menus and online matched up with the real figures. Among the restaurants that had posted inaccurate information is: Chili’s, Macaroni Grill, Taco Bell, and Applebee’s. Just about every meal analyzed contained more calories and fat than had been posted. If this is happening with the random sampling of meals, it’s probably happening across the board.

What is probably happening is the restaurants have allowed the portion size and the added fat amounts creep up since the time the figures are reported. Because there’s no way to know if the chef is doling out the standard portion the nutrition facts are based on, you’re going to have to use your brain—imagine that! If the portion looks large, put some aside and take it home for later. You can always ask for no added oil or butter, or at least half the usual oil or sauce, when the food is prepared to be on the safe side. And if something tastes just too good to be true, tack on some extra calories to your calculation above and beyond the supposed nutritional stats. You can also ask for a kid’s size portion or a lunch portion. Even if you end up paying the same, it is worth the extra fat on your butt??

Another tip: many meals such as salads list the calories and fat for the dry salad, without dressing or add-ons like crispy noodles, tortilla strips, croutons, or bread on the side. If you add these items, you’re probably adding lots of extra additional calories. However, if you order the item without cheese or something, you can slash calories in the meal to make room for these extra items or just leave them out altogether for a truly lower-calorie meal. Many meals are also quoted on nutritional stats based on a certain oz. or gram size meal, but they don’t tell you that the one ‘meal’ contains 2 or more ‘servings.’ Many sandwiches are quoted for a half sandwich when you are served the whole thing. You assume that the entire meal has the calories posted—a fair and logical assumption, but now you know better!

Packaged Foods

Packaged Foods are generally more accurately labeled because they are sold by weight, but still you need to make sure you note the number of servings contained in the package and multiply that by the calories if you eat the whole thing.

There have been cases where the nutrition stats are flat out wrong, but they are usually few and far between. Usually the nationally recognized chains are pretty good about being accurate, but smaller companies that don’t have a huge line of products have been more often found to be under-reporting. Again, if it tastes too good to be true it probably is. You’re the one who will pay the price next time you step on the scale. If your favorite food suddenly changes in nutritional stats, it may simply be because the recipe changed, not that the facts were wrong all along. The benefit to making your own food from scratch is that you will know with 100% accuracy what you’re putting into your body.

This article was provided by Home Exercise Coach
For more information on Home Exercise Coach, check out their full profile here.
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