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# The pudge factor.

### Wednesday, February 20, 2013

t/2013/02/20/172403779/cal
orie-counts-fatally-flawed
-or-our-best-defense-against-pudge
on the npr website and watched the embedded video.

Now I don’t want to eat anything.

The article brings up flaws in the calculation of calories, how the energy required to digest can skew actual consumed calories, and other variations on the theme of how the currently utilized Atwater system of calculation is flawed and inaccurate.

After reading the text, I just decided to chalk it up to making use of the best tool I have at hand. Okay, the system is flawed, but not so flawed as to be useless. Not about to throw the baby out with the bath-water on this one.

The video was another thing all-together. The filmmaker took some of his favorite foods and had their composition laboratory tested to ascertain calories. I have always assumed some variation from the posted number is inevitable- just a little squish factor.

Mind officially blown.

The discrepancies added up to 548 calories or as he put it “a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese… or two hamburgers… or two Snickers bars… or a couple of donuts.”

Who can plan for that? That is more than squish factor… pudge factor, anyone???

Gack!
• LINDAJOYWK
I believe we all try to over think everything.Got to get back to the basics(deep down
most of us know). I am sure I underestimate my calories-think the trick is to get
them from healthy sources...
1820 days ago
• POOKASLUAGH
This is why I avoid restaurants. I don't believe anything they say about their calories!!

I can't remember which book I read that talked about the calorie discrepancies, but it said the same thing as that article about ground beef versus steak, for instance. The more processed the food, the more net calories we absorb because our bodies do less work to break it down. Calorie counting doesn't take into account what our bodies do to process food. That's why something like celery can be classified as a negative-count food - it takes more energy to chew and digest than is provided by the veggie.

Just another real good argument for getting most of your food from unprocessed sources!
1822 days ago
• SUSIEQ911
Wow, it really doesn't surprise me. It's something I wonder about whenever I get something prepackaged.

Even the calorie counts are SP are WAY off. It amazes me sometimes when I track at how many times the calories are entered incorrectly by users. I hope they know that if they are lowering the calories, it doesn't make it true.

I was pleased to see Subway less because we eat there A LOT. I'm sure mine are more calories than they say though because I alway ask for LOTS of veggies. But, hey, there veggies so it's good.

I guess the best thing is to eat real food and not processed and be accurate with measuing.

Thanks for posting this...even though it does freak me out a bit! LOL
1822 days ago
• KASCHOLTZ1
The only way to be sure what your eating is cooking it yourself. It makes a huge difference calorie and taste wise. I love my own cooking. Practice, practice, practice.
1823 days ago
• DALID414
I'm so not surprised.
1823 days ago
• TRIANGLE-WOMAN
Oh dear...this was an eye opener.

I learn so much from my Spark Buddies!! Thanks for posting. I am forwarding link to everyone I know!!

Makes the need for self vigilance and less processed foods even greater....

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1823 days ago
• CHARITY1973
But the same can be said for the reverse in terms of calories burnt. Even a heart rate monitor is an approximation. And each body reacts differently to exercise in terms of 'after burn'. I know that my BMR is not correct by Spark's calculations because I have higher muscle mass so my body burns more at rest than someone at the same weight and height but less lean body mass. And some of this is my heavier larger bones and bigger organs, not just muscles. I like to think that all this 'smooging' of the numbers helps the balance stay on my side.

But don't get me started on food labeling beyond the inaccuracy of calories! In NZ and OZ we don't seem to hold manufacturers to a standard that benefits the consumer (their customer no less!). I am that annoying woman who email the company and asks for the info that is missing. And they don't have to put any (yes, any) micronutrients unless they want to. So calcium, vitamins, minerals and sometimes fibre are missing off the label. I frequently try to buy US sourced foods (oh, the food miles!!!) just to get a better idea of what I'm actually eating! Or make it myself using SP recipes and SP database foods to create a more genuine idea of what I'm eating.

Next time I wanna stick it to the man it'll be over food labeling!
1823 days ago