Have you ever wondered to yourself why food labels have to be so misleading?
First off, did you know that the USDA guidelines allow for a caloric variance of 10-20%?
This variance is why I always advise clients to focus on macros and micros and why calories tend to not always add up so perfectly.
If you’re tracking macros, you are by default tracking and controlling your calories.
The reason calories don’t always add up is because there are rounding errors that come into the equation.
The numbers on food labels can vary anywhere between 10 and 20%.
So if something says it has 10g of fat, it could actually be 8 or 9, or even 12… the USDA actually allows for some huge rounding!
Below 50 calories, you can round to the nearest 5.
Anything above 50 calories, and you can round to the nearest 10 calorie increment.
So when multiplied out, via the actual macro break down of 1g of carb = 4 calories, 1g of fat = 9 calories, etc. the rounding error that USDA allows will cause calories to not always add up so perfectly.
This is why tracking macros is always going to be more precise, as there aren’t actual rounding errors in the macros listed like there are for calories. This is why I always suggest focusing on your proteins, fats, and carbs, rather than calories because by just trying to hit calories, it can add up to over a 100 kcal difference.
And when it comes to manipulating your body to look a certain way you want. Every single calorie counts.
Given we’ll have multiple food items in meals over an entire day, it could really throw things for a loop.
This also is the logic behind why we just call alcohol a carb, because if we tracked it as calories, and just tack them on our Kcals for the day, there will be a more significant variance (alcohol is actually 7cal/g).
So this is why it makes more sense to track macros, rather than worry about calories as over time – as calories can be way off.
So what’s the deal with these “net carbs” that you keep seeing on nutrition labels?
Well, nobody actually knows. The FDA has no legal definition of what these mean. Pretty crazy if you think about it.
In the world of agriculture and supplements, the protocol is usually to implement and ask for forgiveness later. So there is still alot of a grey area here.
The basic idea here is that you take total carbs, and subtract the amount of fiber, and sugar alcohols (basically just synthetic fiber), and you have the actual carbs your body uses.
The only problem with this is that its stupid, and not real.
Food manufacturers know that by labeling these things on packaging “2 net carbs” when the product actually could contain somewhere around 30 total carbs, it will appeal to the “carbs are bad” crowd.
Just because fiber and sugar alcohols have little effect on blood sugar, doesn’t mean that our bodies won’t still store, or use the calories as energy.
Some people will debate this, but it defies the fundamental laws of thermodynamics.
Energy has to go somewhere; it’s going to be either used as energy or stored as energy to use later, end of the story.
IF you’re serious about your physique goals, which I know you are. Don’t fall for the marketing gimmicks in today’s food industry. With the advancements in science and technology, fitness and nutrition are at an all-time high . With more and more apps like MyFitnessPal being launched every single day, it has never been easier to take control of your diet and accomplish whatever it is that you want.
The same industry which once demonized dietary fat as the cause of obesity, or how they currently market “gluten-free” products as “healthier,” when in reality these items are often far more caloric dense than not.
Use logic, and science my friends, and don’t fall for marketing gimmicks. Instead, hit your macros and hit them hard!