Are Calories On Food Labels Accurate?

According to the FDA, food labels are allowed to have a 20% margin of error when reporting calories.

That means a yogurt that is 100 calories can actually be anywhere between 80-120 calories.

So what’s the point of tracking calories then?!

Regardless of the 20% margin of error, we know calorie tracking works really well for the majority of people.

There are a few things you can do to account for the extra calories food labels do not report.

  • Get your calories calculated to account for the margin of error.

Set the foundation right from the start! Anytime I calculate calories or teach my students how to calculate their own calories, I do so by considering that food labels might not be 100% accurate.

Their calorie goals are calculated to consider this so it’s not something they need to waste their energy thinking about.

  • Offset the food label errors by moving more.

Get consistent with your physical activity regimen as often as possible.

Take work breaks and engage in stretching or get outside and go for a walk.

Be mindful of being less sedentary and active throughout the day as your schedule permits.

  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein.

If you’re eating enough foods that don’t always carry a food label on them, the less you have to worry about the discrepancies on food labels!

At the same time you’re eating more fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and volume!

Remember, it’s all about the balance!

Lastly, don’t stress so much about calorie errors on food labels.

If a food you eat has 20 more calories in it than the label says, that means a different food you eat can also have 20 fewer calories in it than the label says.

Don’t worry about perfection with calories. The goal of tracking calories is awareness with your unique portion sizes. Not to track forever or be perfect with the number of calories you eat daily.

Aim for consistency and the results will always come!

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