5 Common Calorie Counting Mistakes You’re Probably Making
Are you working out and eating right, but still not losing weight?
The amount of calories you consume play a huge role in whether or not you will lose, maintain or gain fat/weight.
Being 100% accurate when logging calories is darn near impossible, but the goal is to get as close to the true number as humanly possible.
Consider the following common calorie counting mistakes unexpectedly being made by many frustrated individuals who may be pondering what they’re doing wrong.
Logging Calories for Raw vs. Cooked – Some foods expand or shrink when cooked and thus logging calories for that particular food without taking into consideration how the food was prepared will lead to inaccurate figures.
For example, four ounces of chicken raw will not be the same amount of calories for four ounces of cooked chicken. When chicken cooks it will get lighter. It’s best to work with the raw weight of a food, as this is what most nutritional labels will represent.
Using Measuring Cups/Spoons instead of a Scale – Measuring cups mislead easily, as it’s possible to compact food into them (resulting in additional calories) and too easy to use “heaping” portions – that’s common when measuring high calorie items such as sugar, flour and peanut butter, but pile the food sky high above the rim of the cup or spoon. Using measuring cups and spoons, while better than eyeballing and visually estimating, can yield up to a quarter more food than using a food scale.
Size Shortcuts – Log into myfitnesspal or two other free calorie database meant to give you a size shortcut for a specific food (e.g. – the calorie content for one serving of something like a piece of chicken or one corn). You might notice the number will vary. Depend on that number, referred to as a size shortcut meant to make your life a little easier and accommodate those without a scale, and you’d be making a grave mistake. The amount of calories listed for a piece of corn can vary greatly depending on the size of the actual corn.
Not Counting the Oil – When most people prepare their food and log calories, for some odd reason they forget to add in one little thing, that is really a big thing: oil. One tablespoon of cooking oil is usually around 120 calories and as discussed in my previous article, depending on measuring spoons and actual silver spoons will yield stunningly different results. Besides that fact, most people simply aren’t measuring their oil but eyeballing it when they throw it into the pan. That oil gets absorbed into the food and you are indeed consuming it, so remember – measure and log those oil calories!
Trusting Restaurant Menus – A mushroom veggie burger at Shake Shack is listed as 490 calories so you log that into your food diary because it must be true, right? Wrong. The calorie amounts (and calorie ranges) you see listed on menu boards at huge chains and restaurant represents the standard or ideal end product. Each chef or cook is so busy making food that they hardly have time to make sure all the variables are precisely the same, and an extra spoonful of butter, oil, sugar, cheese, etc. can change the caloric amount of the ‘meal’ drastically.
Here’s another interesting tidbit of information – It’s totally legal for companies to be off by a huge percentage (25%) when making their projections for the caloric content of their food product. The FDA completely approves and there aren’t many organizations going around and fact checking these foods. This is why I advocate preparing unprocessed whole foods at home as much as possible.