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And You Thought You Were Alone in Under-Reporting Calories

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Admit it. You cheat. Often by a little. Sometimes by a lot. Look at your nutrition tracker. Look at it over the last week, or month. (Assume for this little exercise that you used it). Now, be honest. Does it reflect EVERYTHING you ate? Every scrap, every morsel, every little snitch of this-and-that while cooking, cleaning, driving, talking on the phone, watching TV? All of it? Faithfully?

If you are like most of the population, the answer is "not even close." I'd venture to say that even for most Sparkies, the honest answer might average someplace around "well, approximately, I guess." I think the human condition is to stretch the truth in such circumstances. So, apparently, does a recent news story and corresponding poll:


This study basically concluded that people, when tracking nutritional intake, under-report. Do we Sparkies consider ourselves above the fray? Even, good Sparkies (i.e., generally people new here, particularly evangelical about weight loss or poor folks scared-poopless about some recent medical news about themselves) may shade the truth.

Well, a close read of this article provides solutions. Easy to implement, good solution:

1. Use the All-Important-Nutrition-Tracke
r (AINT) - The study in the article states "...We can't trust human memory as the source of our nutrition data, because people can unde-rreport what they eat to an absurd degree. Their self-reports documented amounts of food that could not possibly support their survival...." If you are honest with yourself, you already knew this. It's a starting place, and the Sparkies who lose and keep it off, without using it regularly if not consistently, are few in number. Yes, I know it sucks with tedium and that it is often disappointing who quickly you burn through your caloric allotment as the day ticks by, but just do it. OK?

2. Apply a Cheating Correction Factor - The article says that "...men and women have been found to underreport calories by between 12 percent and 20 percent, and are more likely to selectively underreport eating the bad stuff, such as fat and sugar." So, try this. Purposefully undershoot on the AINT by 20%. Over the long haul, you'll perhaps land where you should be.

One final thought: application of a Cheating Correction Factor is NOT a license to cheat more.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    love the truck!!
    2448 days ago
  • JO74555
    there are days i report every stinkin morsal i've ingested. then... there are days where i just say "to hell with the tracker". Thing is, I really do love using it. I wish more of the foods I searched for were accurate because it does get tedius looking up every last detail of every food and then having to enter it from scratch... especially when it's homemade. AND, there are foods I've listed that I know I've over-estimated on... somehow, it must all be working because I have lost weight and so far, maintained it. The best thing I've been able to add is the fact that I work out now, whereas before, I just ate and sat. emoticon
    2451 days ago
    emoticon emoticon made me drop the hand full of chocolate chips I had in my hand and fining out the calorie cunt in Candy corn took the fun out of eating and i am a member if the under tracking class but working on it. some the tracker can find what i ate so can we blame the tracker as the reason we fail to track emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2456 days ago
  • BOPPY_
    Three tools for accurate reporting.

    Weigh everything you eat, and determine calories by weight.

    Take the portion first, weight it, and put the source container a way.

    Avoid things that have messy amount or calorie computations, or estimations.

    Finally, if you lose weight, you're doing it right.

    If you don't, for you, you're doing it wrong.

    2456 days ago
    That's why I aim for the lower half of my nutritional range - especially now that I'm not cooking, and don't always know what goes into a meal made in a restaurant that isn't featured in the SP tracker. I build in that fudge factor.

    Not sure it's any more accurate, but I hope it's closer.
    2456 days ago
    Who would have thunk it?
    2457 days ago
    oh no! Yet another dirty little secret exposed : (
    Good blog, good advice. Thanks!

    2457 days ago
    2457 days ago
    Good blog..thanks!
    2457 days ago
    I'm pretty sure that the CCF is key -- apparently even dietitians are unable to estimate calorie intake accurately for themselves. And when eating at chain restaurants here in the GWN where calorie counts are not yet posted the "underestimate" factor is about 500 calories.

    I know I'll gain weight if I eat more than 1500 calories a day and so . . track daily and aim at averaging well below the 1500. And yup, that's pretty much regardless of estimate calorie burn which I also track but know is equally inaccurate.
    2457 days ago
    I use the tracker 1st thing in the morning to plan my day.
    Then I take the 5th Amendment emoticon
    2457 days ago
    emoticon Not me . . . BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Using the AINT has CERTAINLY improved my accountability/HONESTY a great deal. Many times it isn't necessarily purposefully underreporting . . . it's just that I DON'T KNOW THE NUTRITION BY HEART factor. So, we go on from there.

    GREAT blog and appreciate your HONEST information!
    2457 days ago
    Great blog! thanks :)
    2457 days ago
    so true.... emoticon
    2457 days ago
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