Is Calorie Underestimation Ruining Your Weight Loss Goals?

Do you ever feel like screaming when you step on the scale? I understand your plight, especially if you’ve been exercising regularly and maintaining a calorie deficit.

Calorie Underestimation is Shockingly Common

However, chances are you’re underestimating your calorie intake. According to research, almost everyone underestimates how many calories are in their food, including dieticians.

The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to underreport your calorie intake. This study found that overweight people underestimated their calorie intake by 40 percent while those of normal weight underestimated theirs by 20 percent.

Woman using calorie counter application on her smartphone

Why We Undercount Calories

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to understand why calorie underestimation is so common. These are common reasons people undercount calories.

1. You Rely on Food Labels

Food labels are not accurate. An energy bar labeled 500 calories may actually contain 600 calories. The FDA allows for a 20 percent marginal error on calorie labels. Keep this in mind when you read food labels.

2. Youre Distorting Your Portions

Do you usually measure your cooking oil or salad dressing portions? If you’re like most people, you just pour without measuring with a tablespoon.

Overpouring cooking oil or salad dressing can add 100-200 calories to your meal. If you do this at every meal, you may end up consuming an extra 500 calories in a day. The same thing can happen if you serve yourself a heaping tablespoon of sugar, nut butter, and so on.

a woman eats pizza at an outdoor restaurant

3. You Eat at Restaurants Regularly

Just like food labels, most restaurants misreport calories. According to this report, 19 percent of restaurant meals tested had a variance of at least 100 calories compared to the calorie count on the menu.

This happens because restaurants use excess cooking oil to make their meals tastier.

As you may know, people who cook their own meals lose weight faster compared to those who eat out. Try to cook your own meals as often as possible. If you don’t have time to cook each meal, use these meal prepping tips to cook meals that last several days.

4. You Overestimate Calorie Burned During Your Workouts

Dieters don’t just underestimate their calorie intake. Research shows they also overestimate the number of calories burned during their workouts.

Don’t assume you’re safe because you use a fitness tracker. Most of them give wrong estimations.

Exercise just doesn’t burn as many calories as we think. Running for 30 minutes burns about 300 calories (that number may vary depending on your weight). You’re better off not accounting for the calories you burn through exercise.

Woman eating a sweet driving her car

5. You Have Eating Amnesia

How often do you snack while on the go? Probably more times than you can remember.

Most of us are so busy that we snack while working, driving or watching TV and then we forget we even ate something. These small bites quickly add up, leading to a calorie surplus.

6. You Reward Yourself with Food after Workouts

Since many of us overestimate calories burned during a workout, we feel it’s okay to reward ourselves with a snack after the workout. Unfortunately, that snack only adds back all the calories you burned, often even more than you burned.

Avoid rewarding yourself with food when trying to lose weight. Use other rewards such as clothes, shoes or vacations.

7. You Use Tracking Apps

It’s so easy to underestimate calories when using tracking apps. For instance, if you select a different brand than the one you actually consumed or record the wrong portion size, your counting will be off.

As you can see, it’s difficult to accurately estimate your daily caloric intake. Luckily, you don’t need 100 percent accuracy to lose weight. You can lose weight and keep it off by avoiding the mistakes above and getting most of your calories from plant-based foods.

22 comments

Paulo R
Paulo Reesonabout a month ago

ty

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Marija M
Marija Mohoricabout a month ago

tks for sharing.

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Ruth S
Ruth Sabout a month ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth Sabout a month ago

Thanks.

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Hannah A
Hannah Aabout a month ago

Thank you

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Glennis W
Glennis Wabout a month ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Wabout a month ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Wabout a month ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Wabout a month ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Leo C
Leo Cabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing!

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