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Counting calories with a margin of error.

minimiss669minimiss669 Member Posts: 85 Member Member Posts: 85 Member
I've read that the calories displayed on packaging can be up to 20 % inaccurate. Knowing this, should I account for that kind of discrepancy? Is my 1200 really that or should I assume that im actually eating at maintenance?

Replies

  • KrissFlavoredKrissFlavored Member Posts: 346 Member Member Posts: 346 Member
    I dont think there is that much error to eat your entire deficit to maintenance.

    Some things you could weigh, like if I get salmon and it says each portion is 150, I will weigh those, but if it's a 40 calorie yogurt lol not worth the energy
  • briscogunbriscogun Member Posts: 846 Member Member Posts: 846 Member
    You’re never going to be perfect as far as logging, you can only try to be as close as is reasonable. That being said, some people do take pre-packaged foods and weigh them prior to eating just to be safe.

    For instance I eat a yogurt every day for lunch. It says it’s 100 calories on the label. I’m sure that some days I’m eating more than 100, some days less. It evens out in the end. It’s not like I’m taking the yogurt out and weighing it either. No thanks.

    Don’t fret over every little potential inaccuracy. You’ll drive yourself goofy. Just be as good as you can with your logging and it will all work out!
  • minimiss669minimiss669 Member Posts: 85 Member Member Posts: 85 Member
    So if I use the entries with the green check and I stay within my limits or a little under, I should be good. Thank you all! I feel a little less stressed about it now.
  • rsj7799rsj7799 Member Posts: 69 Member Member Posts: 69 Member
    Keep in mind the margin of error works both ways so it tends to even out. Prepackaged foods that say "about x number of servings" should always be weighed though as they are almost always under. If you aren't getting the results you think you should be, a digital food scale is almost always the answer.
  • Duck_PuddleDuck_Puddle Member, Premium Posts: 3,031 Member Member, Premium Posts: 3,031 Member
    The 20% goes both ways. It doesn’t mean that it’s always 20% over (or under).

    Everything is really an estimate. Just be as accurate and as consistent as possible in your logging.
  • Duck_PuddleDuck_Puddle Member, Premium Posts: 3,031 Member Member, Premium Posts: 3,031 Member
    So if I use the entries with the green check and I stay within my limits or a little under, I should be good. Thank you all! I feel a little less stressed about it now.

    Well, the green checks don't really mean a whole lot.

    Make sure they match your label for calories and portion size.

    This for sure!

    Green check marks are pretty but there’s a green check mark on an entry for a cup of pop tarts. How do you have a cup of pop tarts? It’s a tart. But it’s been verified enough to get a green check mark.

    Also be careful with the barcode scanner (where I scanned cookies and it pulled up an entry for pork chops).

    Just match the entry you’re choosing with the info on the package of whatever you’re eating.
  • Lillymoo01Lillymoo01 Member Posts: 2,868 Member Member Posts: 2,868 Member
    I am one that weighs all my prepackaged foods and it is very rare for the food to be less than what is indicated on the label but is nearly always over. The 20% isn't the weight of the food in the actual package but how close the food is to the nutrition given on the package for each serving size. If the label says that an item has 100 calories for every 100 grams it has to be between 80-120 calories per 100 grams which is something determined in the lab so we would be none the wiser.

    Companies could find themselves in serious trouble is packages were coming out with less product than you were paying for because it would be false advertising.
    edited May 25
  • ShortgirlrunningShortgirlrunning Member Posts: 828 Member Member Posts: 828 Member
    I’ve never measure pre-packaged food (like a granola bar for example) and have managed to lose 50 lbs just fine. If you are really close to your goal or eat a lot of packaged food it might matter more.
  • Lillymoo01Lillymoo01 Member Posts: 2,868 Member Member Posts: 2,868 Member
    I’ve never measure pre-packaged food (like a granola bar for example) and have managed to lose 50 lbs just fine. If you are really close to your goal or eat a lot of packaged food it might matter more.

    If your average weight loss is around the ballpark figure of where you want it to be why would you make it harder for yourself than it needs to be? However, if you have stalled or gain for over a month it is then that you could consider doing this to work out where you could be going wrong.
  • lgfrielgfrie Member, Premium Posts: 1,053 Member Member, Premium Posts: 1,053 Member
    So if I use the entries with the green check and I stay within my limits or a little under, I should be good. Thank you all! I feel a little less stressed about it now.

    Green checks are no more likely to be correct than non-green checks. For instance, today I entered Nature Valley Dark Chocolate, Peanut, and Almond Bar. I got a green check listing for 160 calories, which is incorrect. The package label says 170. And there is a non-green-checked listing for 170. I have experienced this scores of times over the past year. That is why I always verify the MFP entry against the food label, whenever possible. Nothing in the MFP database can be taken on faith.
    edited May 25
  • cmriversidecmriverside Member Posts: 30,000 Member Member Posts: 30,000 Member
    lgfrie wrote: »
    So if I use the entries with the green check and I stay within my limits or a little under, I should be good. Thank you all! I feel a little less stressed about it now.

    Green checks are no more likely to be correct than non-green checks. For instance, today I entered Nature Valley Dark Chocolate, Peanut, and Almond Bar. I got a green check listing for 160 calories, which is incorrect. The package label says 170. And there is a non-green-checked listing for 170. I have experienced this scores of times over the past year. That is why I always verify the MFP entry against the food label, whenever possible. Nothing in the MFP database can be taken on faith.

    To be fair, 160 or 170 are both correct if you take the 20% rule into account.

    I've been buying the same bread for 10 years or more. The package has changed, the calories have been different, but the portion stays the same. No idea what that's about - I am not about to side-by-side the ingredients, wouldn't matter, and close enough is good enough.

    Except the size of the English muffins! Portion says 61g. Lots of times they're actually 67g or more. That's 10% right there and then take the 20% fudge factor and it could be 45 calories. They are never smaller than the stated size.
  • Lillymoo01Lillymoo01 Member Posts: 2,868 Member Member Posts: 2,868 Member
    lgfrie wrote: »
    So if I use the entries with the green check and I stay within my limits or a little under, I should be good. Thank you all! I feel a little less stressed about it now.

    Green checks are no more likely to be correct than non-green checks. For instance, today I entered Nature Valley Dark Chocolate, Peanut, and Almond Bar. I got a green check listing for 160 calories, which is incorrect. The package label says 170. And there is a non-green-checked listing for 170. I have experienced this scores of times over the past year. That is why I always verify the MFP entry against the food label, whenever possible. Nothing in the MFP database can be taken on faith.

    To be fair, 160 or 170 are both correct if you take the 20% rule into account.

    I've been buying the same bread for 10 years or more. The package has changed, the calories have been different, but the portion stays the same. No idea what that's about - I am not about to side-by-side the ingredients, wouldn't matter, and close enough is good enough.

    Except the size of the English muffins! Portion says 61g. Lots of times they're actually 67g or more. That's 10% right there and then take the 20% fudge factor and it could be 45 calories. They are never smaller than the stated size.

    @cmriverside I'll point out what I said before. The 20% margin of error refers to the number of calories there are in each suggested serving size, rather than how big the portions are in the packaging. If it states that 100 grams of the product is 100 calories it has to be between 80 calories and 120 calories per 100 grams. This is determined in the lab. The portion size indicated on the label should not be under because that is false advertising but it can be larger. Consumers are ok getting more than they paid for but not less. By the way, the portion size on my English muffins is 67 grams but the average is around 75 instead. Having a lot of prepackaged food can easily have you over your calorie allowance without you ever realising.
  • cmriversidecmriverside Member Posts: 30,000 Member Member Posts: 30,000 Member
    Lillymoo01 wrote: »
    lgfrie wrote: »
    So if I use the entries with the green check and I stay within my limits or a little under, I should be good. Thank you all! I feel a little less stressed about it now.

    Green checks are no more likely to be correct than non-green checks. For instance, today I entered Nature Valley Dark Chocolate, Peanut, and Almond Bar. I got a green check listing for 160 calories, which is incorrect. The package label says 170. And there is a non-green-checked listing for 170. I have experienced this scores of times over the past year. That is why I always verify the MFP entry against the food label, whenever possible. Nothing in the MFP database can be taken on faith.

    To be fair, 160 or 170 are both correct if you take the 20% rule into account.

    I've been buying the same bread for 10 years or more. The package has changed, the calories have been different, but the portion stays the same. No idea what that's about - I am not about to side-by-side the ingredients, wouldn't matter, and close enough is good enough.

    Except the size of the English muffins! Portion says 61g. Lots of times they're actually 67g or more. That's 10% right there and then take the 20% fudge factor and it could be 45 calories. They are never smaller than the stated size.

    @cmriverside I'll point out what I said before. The 20% margin of error refers to the number of calories there are in each suggested serving size, rather than how big the portions are in the packaging. If it states that 100 grams of the product is 100 calories it has to be between 80 calories and 120 calories per 100 grams. This is determined in the lab. The portion size indicated on the label should not be under because that is false advertising but it can be larger. Consumers are ok getting more than they paid for but not less. By the way, the portion size on my English muffins is 67 grams but the average is around 75 instead. Having a lot of prepackaged food can easily have you over your calorie allowance without you ever realising.

    Not sure why you think I didn't know that?
  • cupcakesandproteinshakescupcakesandproteinshakes Member Posts: 769 Member Member Posts: 769 Member
    I think it depends. If you eat a lot of the same prepackaged stuff and it’s calorie dense it may be worth weighing especially if you don’t have a big deficit. I ain’t weighing lettuce leaves or celery though life is too short.
  • lgfrielgfrie Member, Premium Posts: 1,053 Member Member, Premium Posts: 1,053 Member
    To be fair, 160 or 170 are both correct if you take the 20% rule into account.

    Not really, though. The manufacturer's label being off by up to 20 % is one type of calorie discrepancy/error. MFP's database having incorrect entries for many packaged foods - including it's own "verified", i.e. green-checked, listings - is another.

    So, for instance, if Mars wants to give me an extra 4 M&Ms in the package, I'll take 'em! But that is different than MFP saying there's X cals in a pack of M&Ms when there's X+20 as stated on the label.

    Admittedly, the MFP calorie discrepancies are usually fairly trivial, although recently I tried to log something that should've been 630 cals and it came up 480, which is a big difference.

    So it does make sense to verify those MFP green-checked entries and not assume that what MFP says - that those ones have been checked out and "verified" - is accurate.

    I am also from the "close enough is good enough" school. Personally, I don't care if something is off by 10 or 20 calories. People who do care shouldn't trust MFP's database LOL
    edited May 25
  • Duck_PuddleDuck_Puddle Member, Premium Posts: 3,031 Member Member, Premium Posts: 3,031 Member
    lgfrie wrote: »
    So if I use the entries with the green check and I stay within my limits or a little under, I should be good. Thank you all! I feel a little less stressed about it now.

    Green checks are no more likely to be correct than non-green checks. For instance, today I entered Nature Valley Dark Chocolate, Peanut, and Almond Bar. I got a green check listing for 160 calories, which is incorrect. The package label says 170. And there is a non-green-checked listing for 170. I have experienced this scores of times over the past year. That is why I always verify the MFP entry against the food label, whenever possible. Nothing in the MFP database can be taken on faith.

    This may be less an issue of the dreadful mfp database and more that nutrition info on packaging does change every so often. I’ve been eating many of the same foods/brands/items for 8+ years and every few years it seems that the same product may go up (or down) 10-20 calories for the same serving as listed on the nutritional label on the packaging. Never mind the ones that change due to change in serving size.

    So it could be that the bar was labeled as 160 calories previously and is now 170.

    Note-I am in no way defending the chaotic maelstrom that is the mfp database - just that this particular scenario happens a lot and it’s not one of the zillion things wrong with the DB. But is yet another of the zillion reasons why we should be verifying every entry we use-even the ones we’ve been using for years.
  • lgfrielgfrie Member, Premium Posts: 1,053 Member Member, Premium Posts: 1,053 Member
    lgfrie wrote: »
    So if I use the entries with the green check and I stay within my limits or a little under, I should be good. Thank you all! I feel a little less stressed about it now.

    Green checks are no more likely to be correct than non-green checks. For instance, today I entered Nature Valley Dark Chocolate, Peanut, and Almond Bar. I got a green check listing for 160 calories, which is incorrect. The package label says 170. And there is a non-green-checked listing for 170. I have experienced this scores of times over the past year. That is why I always verify the MFP entry against the food label, whenever possible. Nothing in the MFP database can be taken on faith.

    This may be less an issue of the dreadful mfp database and more that nutrition info on packaging does change every so often. I’ve been eating many of the same foods/brands/items for 8+ years and every few years it seems that the same product may go up (or down) 10-20 calories for the same serving as listed on the nutritional label on the packaging. Never mind the ones that change due to change in serving size.

    So it could be that the bar was labeled as 160 calories previously and is now 170.

    Note-I am in no way defending the chaotic maelstrom that is the mfp database - just that this particular scenario happens a lot and it’s not one of the zillion things wrong with the DB. But is yet another of the zillion reasons why we should be verifying every entry we use-even the ones we’ve been using for years.

    "Chaotic maelstrom: :D:D:D I do like that.

    I'm critical but not dismissive of the MFP database. It has the same strengths and weakness as other crowdsourced data sets. To wit: more raw data than you could ever get from a centrally-sourced data set, but with all the cacophonous pandemonium that accompanies millions of people banging in their interpretation of the facts. I agree that, very often, the problem has been not on the MFP end but the manufacturer changing its own food label - often with no change in ingredients, portion sizes, etc. They just ... change the calories now and then, and MFP's data base can't be expected to keep up with that. That's probably what happened with the Nature Valley bar. Still, for people who want an exact record of their exact calories in their diaries (I am not one of them; I'm fine with things being +/- 5 % for the day) it pays to check an MFP listing against a food label. All that said, MFP's effort to green-check some items as "verified" is a fail because those listings are no more verified than other listings. Oftentimes, the alternative listings are more up to date and accurate, from user sourcing of the most update info after MFP has verified something.

    Still, all in all, there is nothing as comprehensive and extensive as the MFP data base in the diet universe, which is why we all use it, even if it isn't always accurate.
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