Why calorie counting is basically flawed
In this week's blog, Health Club Manager Louise takes us through the problems of Calore Counting.
Ok, let’s be clear, the fundamentals work. Take in more than you burn and you gain weight. Take in less than you burn and you lose weight. After that, it’s a grey area.
Companies are allowed inaccuracies of up to 20% when labelling calories on food. Also, once food is cooked or even blended the amount of energy available for digestion and absorption changes. That’s even before it gets into your body!
A lot of us use calorie counters on our mobile devices. These are good as a rough estimate but unless you are weighing everything then it’s at best a guess. One apple can range from 83kcals to 116kcals. A 6oz filet steak is anywhere from 325 to 500. Why? The fat content for a start. Is your steak marbled or lean? If you put in one sweet potato and don’t stipulate the size you are looking at anything from 250-700! Look at the 20% allowance on food labelling. Something that says 150 can be 130-180. Now add this up over an entire day and you could be looking at a surplus of 500-600 a day! Over a week and that’s an extra 3500-4200 on your diet, and you wonder why you’re not losing weight!
We don’t absorb all calories we consume. Some go undigested and this varies from food to food.
1g protein – 5.65kcals, 4kcals gets absorbed
1g carbs – 4.1kcals, 4kcals gets absorbed
1g fat – 9.45kcals, 9kcals gets absorbed.
Even this formula isn’t accurate though. We absorb fewer kcals from nuts and seeds than calculated. We also absorb more kcals form foods like tomatoes, kale, cabbage and mango to name a few.
Let’s look at cooking. A raw egg of 45cals goes up to about 75 when boiled. A 195 calorie steak goes up to about 240 when cooked and a 100 potato can go up to 195. This can lead to errors of up to 90% when calculating calories in!
People with good gut health can absorb about 150cals more in a day than someone with bad gut health.
Now not even looking at human error in controlling portion sizes you can see why calorie counting isn’t a great thing to rely on.
Stop driving yourself nuts calorie counting. Eat real, whole foods not refined, processed products. Start with a side plate if weight loss is your goal. Stop when you are full. Start with this and you’re on your way to a healthier, less demented you.
Louise Kavanagh - Spencer Health Club Manager