So… why the hell am I writing an article on counting calories. Shouldn’t counting calories be as easy as 1+1?
Well I wish it were that easy, but unfortunately we live in world full of errors and miscalculations.
I talked about nutrition labels and how they are of great convenience to us here, but the problem with nutrition labels is that they are all standardized and set in stone.
Nutrition labels can be decieving
This is something that doesn’t get talked about a lot, but when scientists measure the calories in food, they simply measure the calories, and slap whatever amount they get onto EVERY SINGLE nutrition label in the world.
That means that every single apple in the bag is “supposed” to have only 70 calories and that every single Big Mac from McDonalds is “supposed” to have exactly 540 calories.
Do you see the problem? There is absolutely no way that every apple or Big Mac has the EXACT same amount of calories.
It’s simply impossible.
For example, if you order 2 Big Macs, I guarantee both of them won’t be 540 calories. The amount of sauce used will vary, the size of the buns will never be exactly the same, and the number of sesame seeds on each bun will be different. You get the point.
There’s always a margin of error.
How to avoid this margin of error
Believing the calorie count of your foods for their exact amount may not be sabotaging your weight loss efforts, but it could definitely be doing damage that could be avoided otherwise.
If the foods you eat have a margin of error of 50-100 calories each, then that can quickly add up to pounds of unnecessary weight gain over the years.
So what do you do? You OVERESTIMATE the amount of calories in the food you eat. So if you eat a Big Mac for lunch, then you should count it as 600 calories instead of 540 calories, allowing for a 60 calorie margin of error.
Similarly, if you eat a bag of chips that supposedly has 210 calories, you would count that as 300 calories, allowing for a 90 calorie margin of error. You understand?
How high should I overestimate?
For 1-ingredient foods like apples and oranges, you probably don’t have to set it so high(30-50 calories), since they are generally lower in calories, but for more complex foods like chocolate milkshakes made with human breast milk, you should overestimate a bit more(100-150 calories, since more ingredients are involved).
Sometimes when overestimating, you just have to rely on instinct and good judgement. If you’re eating foods that are prone to manufacturing errors like pizzas and pastas, then set your overestimate a bit higher.
One last note
When it comes to counting calories, people do make the mistake trusting the calorie counts a bit too much. But just because I introduced this new concept of overestimating doesn’t mean that you should be stressing over it.
I really don’t want you to lose sleep because you can’t decide whether to overestimate your calories by 50 or 60 calories.
Remember, keep it simple.
How do you count calories? Let me know in the comments below.