Want to know how many calories are in that burger? Sit tight. The FDA has delayed menu calorie count rules. – The Washington Post

Want to know how many calories are in that slice of delivery pizza or movie theater popcorn? Sit tight. America will elect a new president before menus across the country are required to feature detailed calorie counts.

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it will push back the deadline for chain restaurants, grocery stories and other establishments to post calorie counts on their menus. The businesses now will have until Dec. 1, 2016, a year longer than the FDA initially proposed.

The move comes amid persistent pressure on the agency from various corners of the food industry to delay enforcement of the rules. The FDA said that since February, it has received numerous requests from for a postponement, including from groups such as the Food Marketing Institute, the National Association of Theater Owners, the American Beverage Association and Publix Super Markets.

via Want to know how many calories are in that burger? Sit tight. The FDA has delayed menu calorie count rules. – The Washington Post.


On Food Labels, Calorie Miscounts – NYTimes.com

The method most commonly used to assess the number of calories in foods is flawed, overestimating the energy provided to the body by proteins, nuts and foods high in fiber by as much as 25 percent, some nutrition experts say.

“The amount of calories a person gets from protein and fiber are overstated,” said Geoffrey Livesey, the head of Independent Nutrition Logic, a nutrition consulting company in Britain, and a nutrition consultant to the United Nations. “This is especially misleading for those on a high-protein, high-fiber diet, or for diabetics” who must limit their intake of carbohydrates.


The New Logic of Calorie-Counting

Can you determine which of these foods provide fewer calories than originally counted?

An adult aiming to take in 2,000 calories a day on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet may actually be consuming several hundred calories less, he and other experts said. Calorie estimates for junk foods, particularly processed carbohydrates, are more accurate.

The current calorie-counting system was created in the late 1800s by Wilbur Atwater, a scientist at the Department of Agriculture, and has been modified somewhat over the past 100 years. Researchers place a portion of food in a device called a calorimeter and burn it to see how much energy it contains. The heat is absorbed by water; one calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.

via On Food Labels, Calorie Miscounts – NYTimes.com.

What 200 Calories of Every Food Looks Like – The Atlantic

Because I cover health, sometimes people ask me if I’m especially healthy. The answer is no, of course. I’m just better at deluding myself than most people are.

For example, I know that Chipotle burritos are extremely caloric, but I’ve managed to convince myself that the burrito bowl—all the cheese, guac, and juicy beef, but without the tortilla wrapping—is practically a health food.

No need to work out today, I walked up the Metro escalator! And sure, eight drinks a week is technically “heavy drinking” for women, but I’m Russian.

Unfortunately, the other day I learned about the app Calorific. It’s basically a giant truth bomb that pours its radioactive reality down on all the food lies we tell ourselves. With simple, pastel images, the app tells you how much of virtually any food item adds up to 200 calories.I’ll get the two most heartbreaking ones out of the way first:It is less than one donut.

It is half an avocado.

Here are a few others, if you dare look: What 200 Calories of Every Food Looks Like – The Atlantic.

Calorie Counting Machine May Make Dieting Easier In The Future : The Salt : NPR

Part of losing weight boils down to making tweaks to the simple equation of calories in versus calories out.

Americans spend over $60 billion a year on diet and weight loss products, according to market research, but the weight often comes right back. That may be because it’s such a hassle to count calories — tracking everything you order or cook at home.

But recently, General Electric cell biologist Matt Webster told Morning Edition hosts Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne about a new calorie counting device that could make the job easier.

The device uses microwaves and scales to measure food. You simply place it over your plate and it shows you how much energy is in what you’re about to eat.

“We have the weight of the food and the proportion that’s water and the proportion that’s fat, and from that information, we can estimate calories,” Webster says.

via Calorie Counting Machine May Make Dieting Easier In The Future : The Salt : NPR.

Food Firms Trim Trillions Of Calories From Packaged Treats : The Salt : NPR

It sounds impressive: Major food companies have slashed 6.4 trillion calories from packaged foods they sold in 2012 compared with 2007, a study reported Thursday.

But for each American, that number translates to about 78 fewer calories purchased each day, or the equivalent of cutting out one apple or 3 1/2 Hershey\’s Kisses.

The cut in calories is part of an effort by the nation\’s giant food producers, such as General Mills, Hershey Co. and Kraft Foods, to curb childhood obesity by getting more healthful items on grocery shelves.

But could cutting out 78 calories each day really make a difference in your waistline or in the obesity problem in the U.S.?

“The range of calories that we need to stop obesity is about 130 to 170, approximately, per person per day,” says Kathryn Thomas of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a nonprofit that funded the study. “If these companies are helping to take out 78 calories per day, that’s an important contribution toward reaching the goal.”

But the findings aren’t that clear-cut. The study looked only at sales of packaged foods and beverages. It’s still unknown how this translates to calories consumed by Americans, especially given that about 40 percent of all food in the U.S. is wasted.

Also, the study didn’t consider food eaten in restaurants, where Americans get about a third of their calories.

Back in 2010, 16 of the nation’s major food companies pledged to remove 1 trillion calories from their products in grocery stores by 2012, and 1.5 trillion calories by 2015. To reach that goal, the corporations — which produce a third of all packaged foods sold in the U.S. — started selling smaller portion sizes and introducing low-calorie versions of their snacks and beverages.

For instance, Nestle developed an ice cream with half the fat and one-third of the calories of the original, The New York Times reported. General Mills introduced a 100-calorie Greek yogurt, while Campbell\’s launched a \”light\” line of calorie-reduced soups. Jimmy Dean put out a more healthful version of its sausages, made with turkey.

So did any of these efforts change what Americans bought last year?

To figure that out, researchers at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill tracked the items scanned through checkout lines around the country. The team\’s full report isn\’t published yet. But the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the overall numbers on its website Thursday.

In 2012, the participating companies sold about 54 trillion calories, compared with 60.4 trillion in 2007, the study found. So the companies crushed their goal — with a 10 percent drop in calories.

But some health researchers think the companies shouldn\’t get all the credit for the progress.

\”It\’s great to see companies selling fewer calories and reformulating their products to reduce fat and sugar, but it\’s hard to know how much is due to the proactive efforts of the industry rather than changes in Americans\’ eating habits, \” Margo Wootan at the Center for Science in the Public Interest told The New York Times.

Thomas at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation agrees that Americans\’ preferences are helping to drive the low-calorie food trend in grocery stores.

\”There\’s a little bit of a virtuous cycle going on here,\” she tells The Salt. \”Demand for these healthier products is going up. And the industry probably wouldn\’t have stepped forward to make this pledge if there wasn\’t a market demand for this change.\”

Companies that are doing more to make these products, she adds, \”are doing better financially.\”

via Food Firms Trim Trillions Of Calories From Packaged Treats : The Salt : NPR.

Tread Lightly: Labels That Translate Calories into Walking Distance Could Induce People to Eat Less: Scientific American

Including the amount of physical activity needed to burn off the calories from a meal caused people to order on average 200 calories less in an online survey

By Roxanne Khamsi

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign to limit sugary drinks is losing juice, but an idea the city has used to convey caloric information about these beverages might actually have legs. Public awareness posters used by the campaign showed the number of miles a person would have to walk to burn off the calories in a 20-ounce soda, and new research suggests that physical activity–based conversions such as these can actually persuade people to make healthier choices.

Choosing what to eat or drink based on calorie numbers alone is challenging for some restaurant-goers, according to Anthony Viera at the University of North Carolina (U.N.C.) at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. “It requires a computation that many people might not find easy to make at the point of decision,” he says. So Viera and his colleagues conducted an online survey of 802 individuals randomly presented with one of four hypothetical menus. One of the menus provided only calorie counts, another supplemented this with information about the number of minutes one would need to walk to burn those calories whereas the third menu showed calorie numbers plus the distance necessary to walk them off. The fourth menu had no nutritional data whatsoever. All of the physical activity labeling for walking was based on the energy expenditure of a 160-pound adult walking at a rate of 30 minutes per mile—so a “regular burger” was, for example, listed as containing 250 calories, the equivalent amount burned in 2.6 miles, or 78 minutes of walking.

People who viewed the menu without nutritional information ordered a meal totaling 1,020 calories, on average, significantly more than the average 826 calories ordered by those who viewed menus that included information about walking-distance. Study participants ordered meals adding up to averages of 927 calories and 916 calories from menus with only calorie information or calorie information plus minutes walking, respectively, although the differences between these two totals were not statistically significant. The findings appear in the March issue of the journal Appetite. “The next stage is to see how this might work in a real-world setting,” says Sunaina Dowray, a medical student at the U.N.C. School of Medicine and lead author of the study. She says that the team might try to work with the school’s cafeteria about the possibility of testing the concept their labels there.

Although a difference of 200 or even 100 calories might not seem large, a 2011 study from researchers that included scientists at the National Institutes of Health calculated that eating just 10 fewer calories a day would make a person shed a pound of weight over three years.

Tread Lightly: Labels That Translate Calories into Walking Distance Could Induce People to Eat Less: Scientific American

The notion of physical activity–based calorie labeling has stirred interest. “This is a huge window of opportunity for the public health community to provide consumers useful information about calories,” says Sara Bleich of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was not involved in the new study. “Information-based interventions that require less mental processing are typically more successful than information-based interventions requiring greater computation effort,” she adds. Bleich co-authored a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Public Health that looked at sugary drink sales at four corner stores in a low-income Baltimore neighborhood in which the scientists placed brightly-colored signs on the beverage cases asking, “Did you know that working off a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about 50 minutes of running?” The signs that included this physical activity estimate reduced the odds of adolescents purchasing sugar-sweetened beverages whereas signs that included only the calorie content produced no statistically significant decline in such odds.

via Tread Lightly: Labels That Translate Calories into Walking Distance Could Induce People to Eat Less: Scientific American.

Can ‘Negative-Calorie’ Foods Help You Lose Weight?


Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN, CNS: Can 'Negative-Calorie' Foods Help You Lose Weight?

Well, yes and no. Digesting food burns calories. And it’s true that a few foods, such as grapefruit and celery, contain fewer calories than it takes to digest them. So, when you eat these foods, you actually burn more calories than you take in. Thus, the term “negative-calorie foods.”

Theoretically, the more negative-calorie foods I eat, the more weight I lose! How great is that? Now all I need is a job that pays me more the less I do, and a bank account that gets bigger the more I spend!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Here’s why: When nutritionists estimate how many calories you should eat, we’re already taking into consideration how many calories you burn chewing and digesting your food. The “negative-calorie diet” essentially subtracts those calories twice. That’s the kind of accounting that will make you bounce checks (or get you a really good job on Wall Street).

How Negative-Calorie Foods Help You Lose Weight

But will eating a whole bunch of celery and grapefruit speed your weight loss? Only if you eat them instead of brownies and potato chips. In other words, you can’t eat a brownie and then burn off the calories by chasing it with a hundred sticks of celery. The only way to make this work is to eat the hundred sticks of celery first. Then, with any luck, you’ll be too full to eat the brownie.

Replacing high-calorie foods with low-calorie foods will help you lose weight because it reduces your overall calorie intake. Of course, you can also lose weight by exercising, which burns calories. But digesting negative-calorie foods does not constitute an exercise program. Take it from me: A half-hour spent on the treadmill or bike is going to burn a lot more calories than a half-hour spent digesting celery.

Those lists of negative-calorie foods you’ll find on the Internet are simply lists of low-calorie foods. And, if you’re dieting, these kinds of foods are your friends. To that end, here’s a list of “negative-calorie foods.” But take this list with a grain of salt: I’m afraid that a negative-calorie diet is, indeed, to good to be true.

via Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN, CNS: Can ‘Negative-Calorie’ Foods Help You Lose Weight?.

NPR.org » If Almonds Bring You Joy, Enjoy More For Fewer Calories

If Almonds Bring You Joy, Enjoy More For Fewer Calories

by Allison Aubrey

Scientists are starting to discover that the standard way of measuring calories, established more than 100 years ago, may not be terribly accurate when it comes to higher fat, high-fiber foods like nuts. But when it comes to almonds, the count may be off by a whole lot.

Food scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently published a new study that finds almonds have about 20 percent fewer calories than previously documented.

Continue reading

An apple a day…. some nutrition basics

So let’s start with some super basics! ((don’t worry – I promise I won’t always be so boring))

Macronutrients – nutrients you need in large amounts: carbs, fats, protein

  • Calories: Carbs: 4 kilocalories/gram (though we just call kilocalories calories normally)
  • Protein: 4 kilocalories/gram
  • Fat: 9 kilocalories/gram
  • Now I found this interesting:
  • Alcohol: 7 kilocalories/gram   (so note that’s a lot of empty calories that are easy to chug on down with no added nutrients. Now I’m far from dry – but it’s something to be cognizant of. Also your body processes alcohol first – it’s a poison and your body wants it out! So when drinking and eating your body will process the 3 margaritas first, then work on your burger – which makes it easier for that to be tagged on somewhere you don’t like. If this thought worries you… well, it’s all about balance. If it still worries you, just ignore that whole paragraph.)

Micronutrients – vitamins, minerals.

  • Vitamins are organic so they can easily be broken down during food prep or storage. Each vitamins ways of being broken down are unique though, so it’s hard to follow one set principal. I care about this but at the end of the day I think eating the vegetable, however it’s prepared, is probably better than not eating it (though not with cheese sauce.)
  • Minerals are inorganic, so boiling or nuking them won’t break them down
  • but both are easily thrown away when you boil a vegetable, for example, and dump the water down the drain.

Some terms to know while shopping:

  • fortified – the nutrients were added after
  • enriched – nutrients were added back that were lost when the food was processed. Some of this is regulated – for example, folate is added back to white bread because a lack of it causes birth defects
  • imitation foods – that cheese in velveeta probably ain’t real…

What proportions of macronutrients you should be eating: 

  • 45%-65% from carbs
  • 20-35% from fat
  • 10-25% from protein

That’s all well and good but when you look at a sandwich it’s not quite so simple. A tool I love is sparkpeople.com. I recommend everyone at one point do a food log for a week – not a day or two where you can cheat. It’s just astounding some of the assumptions I had before I did the same. Then I’d watch my husband fill not one but two large bowls to the top with cereal for breakfast and one day finally got him to pour a bowl and then put it in a measuring cup. That was 4 servings of cereal!

If you’re hardcore into it, all of this measuring involves some measuring cups and a food scale. If not there are tricks for determining portion sizes. All of this seems like a pain in the arse, I know, but eventually it becomes second nature.

  • meat – one 3 oz serving of cooked meat is about the size of a bar of soap
  • pasta – 1/2 a cup is the size of your fist. That doesn’t help so much with angel hair. I used a food scale. The amount while dry looks sad and skimpy. When cooked it plumps up. Also remember you can have numerous servings per day of these various macronutrients so it’s okay to go a bit over but don’t have 5 servings worth in one meal!)
  • oil – one teaspoon of oil is about the size of the tip of your thumb – that’s around 40 calories. And it pours out fast.
  • cheese – one ounce is about the size of a domino
  • fruit – a tennis ball sized apple is a serving. The ones from costco the size of volleyballs? Probably more calories in those babies than a normal home-grown apple.
  • peanut butter – 2 oz serving is a ping pong ball.

Think that’s enough basics for now. I’m off to the gym!