How accurate are calorie labels?

How accurate are calorie tables?

The values for food energy (calories) are estimates at the best . an excellent many factors determine the accuracy of the estimates. the 2 most vital determinants are the exactness of the laboratory determinations and therefore the constancy of food composition.

Calories are an expression or measure of the energy which may be derived from food. Fats, carbohydrates, and proteins are the main energy providing compounds. (The other source of calories is alcohol.) The energy available during a food are often evaluated by combustion of the food during a calorimeter or by assigning caloric equivalents to the fat, carbohydrate, and protein within the food. While these methods correspond very well , the results obtained on random samples of a given food are still only average values for all other samples of that food. Foods of constant composition, like oils, might be expected to supply the food energy listed in calorie tables; however, there aren't many foods of constant composition. the bulk of the foods listed in conventional tables of caloric values are often quite variable in composition. this is often very true within the case of food concoctions, i.e., stews, hash, casseroles, etc.

An additional difficulty is introduced when food energy is given in terms of calories per serving. A "serving" to the untrained individual is little more than a portion of unknown dimensions. Consider also the myriad designations: grams, ounces, pounds, pints, quarts, gallons, cups, serving, glasses, tsp., tbsp., small, medium, large, slice, thin slice, average piece, 3 ” square, fractions of (1/3 of 9” pie), stalk, head, pat, bottle, strips, and, finally, a scant 1/2 cup. Whether the values are for the raw or cooked food or for “as purchased” or ‘‘edible portion only” is sometimes overlooked in tables. (The dietitian, however, is trained to appreciate standard servings and is skillful in working with weights of food generally expressed in grams or ounces.) 

Can You Trust The Calorie Counts On Food Labels?

A major difficulty in selecting foods for a weight reducing diet from tables that list only the energy value of foods is encountered when low caloric foods are selected without regard to nutrient values. There is a temptation to assume 100 calories as a “cut-off” point. Foods for a calorie restricted diet should be chosen on the basis of nutrient concentration first and caloric value second. Nutrients assume increased importance when the total food intake is restricted. 


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