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'Calorie Count' - Is it reliable?

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Old 02-02-2011, 02:09 AM   #1
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Question 'Calorie Count' - Is it reliable?

I eat a lot of foods at home, and in school, that I can never figure out the calories for, so I just found this website and it's helping me a lot. To log the calories for food I've eaten throughout the day.

I'd like to know though, if this is reliable. Is there a chance it's not very accurate? Or can I count on this?

For the day, it seems I only have a 1,146 intake today. I thought I had a lot more, so I was surprised as I searched through the foods, measured out my portions, and found the calories.
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Old 02-02-2011, 02:13 AM   #2
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I'm in a similar situation with the added problem of eating a lot of food that I don't even know the name of, much less the ingredients thanks to school lunch in a foreign country. Although I'm starting to consider switching to my own lunches, I'm currently also guesstimating and using an online database.

I try to make up for any wiggle room in the unknown foods by accurately counting the food for which I do have information. And I always assume that I've consumed more calories rather than fewer. It's not a foolproof system, but I'm going to see where it gets me.
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Old 02-02-2011, 02:15 AM   #3
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I'm trying to do the same for the foods where I can actually look at the label and calculate. Problem is I go to culinary school, and on a daily basis my chef lets us finish early and makes us something eccentric and Asian. I try to of course give myself a give or take on the number they give me, but it's a little puzzling. I feel like I'm eating so much, but I also feel that if I were eating as little as it says, I would be losing weight faster. Agh, it's a little discouraging.
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Old 02-02-2011, 05:59 AM   #4
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Hi,

If you think you are eating fewer calories than you need to maintain, but you're not losing weight, one of six things is likely happening. These are in decreasing order of likelihood, roughly.

1) you're underestimating calories. I know you said you measured stuff, but it's easy even if measuring to underestimate, especially on the hard-to-measure foods. Try weighing.

2) you're overestimating your maintenance caloric needs. Online calorie estimators are just estimates, and have no way of knowing, for example, how intensely you work out during those 3-5 hours or whatever you typed into the activity section of the calorie estimator.

3) you're compensating for your diet elsewhere by not getting as much exercise OR non-exercise activity (and thereby not burning as many calories as you think). This can happen without people even knowing it -- e.g., they may fidget less throughout the day, and fidgeting burns calories. Maybe not a lot, but some.

4) your body is holding on to water, and a "whoosh" is right around the corner. (Note: if you've only been counting calories for a month or less, I'd elevate this to #1 or #2 on the list.)

5) your hormone levels are off, and you need thyroid meds

6) you are the first known exception to the laws of thermodynamics, and should be hustled off to a major medical institution for study and dissection ASAP.

Good luck,
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaw View Post
Hi,

If you think you are eating fewer calories than you need to maintain, but you're not losing weight, one of six things is likely happening. These are in decreasing order of likelihood, roughly.

1) you're underestimating calories. I know you said you measured stuff, but it's easy even if measuring to underestimate, especially on the hard-to-measure foods. Try weighing.

[snip]

Good luck,
Kim
This is a great list. I'd like to especially second point #1: people are bad estimators, and your body WANTS you to eat more. People that didn't want to eat didn't last very long for most of human history. A $20 kitchen scale is your friend.

I would also add one point, call it 2.5:

2.5: Your "bad days" are having more of an impact than you think they are. It's very common to underestimate the impact of "cheat meals" or "bad days". It's very easy (I've done this so often) to mess up, beat ourselves up emotionally, and then move on. Since we've suffered, we think of it as "paid for" and don't expect to see it on the scale. Or we decide something doesn't count because we "had to eat it" (social eating, or special occasions). My classic example: if someone eats 1000 calories six days a week and 4000 calories one "cheat day" a week, they are really averaging a moderate-calorie diet. But 85% of their life is spent at VLC hunger levels, so they feel that they've "earned" more weight loss: that suffering ought to be compensated. Small nibbles add up very quickly as well: even tastes and licks. This is why people go into debt: it's not the big purchases, it's the $2 things.

Another observation: Being accurate matters less than being consistent. Right now I am maintaining/losing a little. Let's say I found out tomorrow that what I thought was 2000/day on average for the last few months was really 2500. Would I suddenly put on five pounds? Of course not. Because whatever the numbers, what I am eating IS my losing-just-a-little point. If I want to lose at a faster rate, I need to eat less than I am eating, or exercise a lot more. Since I eat more or less the same things over and over (and I think this is true for most people, averaged over 2 weeks), the numbers I have are perfectly accurate in terms of tracking how much I am eating over time. Whether or not they correlate to the absolute truth is irrelevant: I just need to know how much I am eating relative to my weight loss patterns in the past.
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Old 02-02-2011, 05:11 PM   #6
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Thanks guys.

I've only been counting calories for less than a week now, and on a regular basis I'll eat anywhere from 1,000 calories to 1,300, although my caloric needs are "1600"

I do weigh, and I measure everything I eat, by oz, cups, and especially in school, by weight. I'm fairly sure I'm counting the calories right.

I don't use the online for the calories I'm working off though, I'm actually not keeping track at all. I want a heart rate monitor and I might be getting one on Friday, along with a new scale. I DO workout at least 40 minutes a day, using insanity, and anything else to bring up those minutes. Whenever I do insanity, its very vigorous and when I have a break to count my heart beat, It's usually above 160.

Im sure its water weight, since Ive only been dieting a few days and working out a week, not to mention I can see a small difference, and people are noticing. Just trying to ease my nerves here.
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Old 02-02-2011, 05:19 PM   #7
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I use Calorie Count and hope it's fairly accurate! I seem to be on the right track. Good luck!
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:34 PM   #8
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Thanks! I think its pretty accurate too, especially when I can match up what they say online with what my labels say, with little to no difference Good luck to you too!
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:56 AM   #9
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I used Calorie Count for a while and I think it's fairly accurate. I've fallen off it and I just started again. Anyhow, good luck to you.
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Old 02-03-2011, 02:38 PM   #10
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I've just started fitday...

Most likely it's not 100% accurate, but it's probably within a 100 calorie ballpark, I assume.

Mostly it's just given me an idea of my caloric intake, and helps me keep tabs on just how much I've eaten. I'd worry more about being in the ballpark than an exact number.
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