So I’m trying to reduce my weight by counting calories. No fancy programs. No special drinks or foods. No points or whatnot. Just calories.
I got turned on to this by Tyler Weeks over at 344 Pounds. He’s just a regular guy who happened to lose well over 100 lbs by counting calories. It reminds me of something I heard in an old Brian Tracy CD called The Miracle of Self Discipline — “Eat Less and Exercise More”. Now, to be sure, if you listen to the whole CD it’ll also tell you to stay away from all the white stuff (sugar, dairy, flour) but his main message is pretty simple: burn more calories than you take in.
Pretty simple, huh.
Not As Simple As You Would Think – Odwalla: A Case Study
Last week I was on my way to San Juan, Puerto Rico on a short business/pleasure trip and leaving out of Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport (say that three times fast). It was an early flight so I didn’t have any time to eat anything at home. I figured I’d get something to tide me over at the airport. Sure enough. There was one of those little places that serves bagels and pastries and other goodies including Odwalla beverages.
Now these are suppose to be good drinks so I grabbed one. It also looked small so I thought it might be relatively low in calories. Not zero. After all, it wasn’t “diet” Odwalla. I looked at what I thought was a 16 oz bottle (about 3 swallows) and it said 150 calories. Not terrific but not bad, either.
So, I swilled it down and I was talking to my wife, the USDA Nutritionist, and she politely pointed out that the label mentioned that the drink was 150 per serving and that the bottle said it was “about 2 servings”. A serving size in this case is 8 oz (240 mL). Here’s the catch. The bottle is filled in milliliters not oz. so the bottle is really not 16 oz. It’s more like 15.216310216 ozs.
You with me?
Sure, it’s close enough to be 16 ozs. or 2 servings but it’s really not. Actually, in this case, the difference is negligible except for one thing. The bottle is so small that it really looks like it should be one serving and given the bottle it’s packaged in it really makes you think it is one serving. But, it’s not.
It’s “about 2 servings”.
The real challenge with counting calories is that there is really no standard for what a serving size should be or how it should be packaged. Oh yeah. I know. These are multi-national companies that package in the metric system because, after all, the US is the only country that still has the silly US system of measurements. Everyone else in the world is metric. Although, I’m guessing that not everywhere else in the world requires the nutritional labeling written in American English (vs British English…or French).
So, even when you want to be diligent about calories you can’t rely on nutritional labeling.
Odd, isn’t it. All this Government regulation in order to help us consumers make informed choices about what we put in our mouths and we still can’t quite figure it out just by reading the label.