Author's Note: How do they figure out the number of calories in a recipe?
When I was a young woman, I wanted to lose weight. On the advice of some friends, I decided to tally my daily caloric intake and limit myself to 1,200-1,500 calories per day. This was the pre-Internet era, so I bought several tiny booklets listing the calorie counts of various food items. (Back then, these booklets commonly sat in front of the grocery store check-out counters alongside the Hollywood tabloids.) I memorized the calories in foods I regularly ate (banana = 100, apple = 60, egg = 90), then calculated the caloric value of recipes as I made them, jotting them down on my recipe cards. The system worked for me, and I lost 12 pounds.
Today, there are loads of websites that list calorie counts, plus will instantly calculate all of the nutrition facts for any recipe you input. One, at CalorieCount.com, will even create a nutrition label for you! I wish the Internet had been around back then. On the other hand, using those booklets so often helped me to memorize the calorie counts in most of the foods I eat, which has helped me maintain a healthy weight for many years.
More Great Links
- American Heart Association. "What is a Serving?" Dec. 18, 2014. (Nov. 17, 2015) http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Caregiver/Replenish/WhatisaServing/What-is-a-Serving_UCM_301838_Article.jsp#.Vku0edKrSUk
- Avila, Jim and Serena Marshall. "Calorie Counts: How Accurate Are They?" ABC News. Jan. 8, 2013. (Nov. 11, 2015) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/calorie-counts-accurate/story?id=18164180
- Calorie Count. "My Recipes." (Nov. 10, 2015) http://www.caloriecount.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php
- Cox, Jessica. Registered dietician nutritionist and culinary dietician. Email interview.
- Federal Register. "Food Labeling; Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Food Establishments; Extension of Compliance Date." July 10, 2015. (Nov. 20, 2015) https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/07/10/2015-16865/food-labeling-nutrition-labeling-of-standard-menu-items-in-restaurants-and-similar-retail-food
- FitClick. "How Many Calories In Your Food?" (Nov. 9, 2015) http://www.fitclick.com/how_many_calories#.VkD0ftKrSUk
- MyFitnessPal. "Recipe Nutrition Calculator." (Nov. 9, 2015) http://www.myfitnesspal.com/recipe/calculator
- Samuelson, Tracey. "How restaurants calculate calorie counts." Marketplace. Nov. 25, 2014. (Nov. 9, 2015) http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/how-restaurants-calculate-calorie-counts
- Schechner, Sam. "How Do They Measure Calories?" Slate. April 21, 2004. (Nov. 9, 2015) http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2004/04/how_do_they_measure_calories.html
- Scientific American. "How do food manufacturers calculate the calorie count of packaged foods?" July 31, 2006. (Nov. 9, 2015) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-do-food-manufacturers/
- Spark Recipes. "Try our Recipe Calculator!" (Nov. 10, 2015) https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp
- Tufts University. "Calculating Calories and Nutrients in Meals." (Nov. 9, 2015) http://hnrca.tufts.edu/restaurant-meal-calculator/
- United States Department of Agriculture. "Welcome to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference." Dec. 7, 2011. (Nov. 9, 2015) http://ndb.nal.usda.gov//
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "FDA finalizes menu and vending machine calorie labeling rules." Nov. 25, 2015. (Nov. 9, 2015) http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm423952.htm
- Wilcox, Christie. "Does Cooked Food Contain More Calories?" YouBeauty. Jan. 17, 2012. (Nov. 9, 2015) http://www.youbeauty.com/nutrition/does-cooked-food-contain-more-calories/
- Wrangham, Richard. "Why Calorie Counts Are Wrong: Cooked Food Provides a Lot More Energy." Discover Magazine. Dec. 8, 2011. (Nov. 9, 2015) http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2011/12/08/why-calorie-counts-are-wrong-cooked-food-provides-a-lot-more-energy/#.VkEJrdKrSUk