Restaurant calories counts may not be as accurate as they seem, says a study in a recent issue of JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association). Researchers randomly selected foods from seven fast-food and seven sit-down chains in three states and tested their calorie contents. What they found may surprise you:
“Of the 269 foods collected from 42 restaurants, 108 (40%) were found to have measured energy at least 10 kcal/portion higher than the stated amounts, 141 (52%) were found to have at least 10 kcal/portion lower than the stated amounts, and 50 (19%) contained at least 100 kcal/portion higher than the stated amounts.”
Desserts, foods rich in carbs, and salads were the biggest offenders when it came to exceeding their alleged calorie counts. This study just goes to show that even though chains are now required by law to label caloric content, these calorie counts cannot always be counted upon to inform healthy choices.
It’s important to remember, though, that counting calories is not going to be a major component of any successful weight loss plan. The goal is to change what you eat, not how much you eat. As mentioned in a previous post, counting calories is important, but eating foods high in sugar/salt/fat but with fewer calories is not the answer. No matter what the calorie count, most of these fast foods are still addictive!