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Calorie Inflation?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I noticed something weird about how Spark calculates calories. Or maybe it's an error on my part.

1g carb = 4 calories
1g protein = 4 calories
1g fat = 9 calories

Tonight my macro count is:
68g carbs (total, not net) = 272
103g protein = 412
82g fat = 738

272 + 412 + 738 = 1,422

Except my Spark tracker is showing 1,527.

I'm showing this consistently across my spreadsheet.

Am I underestimating calories in my calculations? Or is Spark overestimating??
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    FITGIRL15: Unfortunately as I mentioned in my post, I do have to follow them to some degree. Left to my own devices, I will eventually fail. =/

    4A: I agree...as long as one sticks with consistency (either under or over), then it doesn't matter. I also wondered if the 9/4/4 kcal per gram are rounded estimates, but I can't find any information on the 'real' values, if there are any. The rounded numbers are easy to remember, so even if they aren't the 'real' values, I'd still stick with them. I'm am curious, though!
    3100 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/27/2012 7:37:00 PM
    Merp... I can't answer your question... and this is why the numbers aren't always the best indicator to follow!


    Step away from the calculator, Hun! LOL
    3100 days ago
    Well, I would much rather it overestimate than under, I guess.
    3100 days ago
    holy crap.

    I use LoseIt! to track my food and it seems to be UNDERESTIMATING my calories...

    The calories it reports for today is 2137.
    If I add up my macros it comes to 2325.9 cal.

    Yours is 6% off in one direction, mine is 8% off in the other!

    I have a feeling that the 9/4/4 kcal per gram numbers themselves may be rounded, possibly compounded with general rounding error, as you outlined below in your comment.

    The good news is that I've been consistently using the LoseIt! data to estimate my burn, so as long as I stick with that tracker I should be able to fine tune my intake. It doesn't matter what the "real" numbers are, as long as everything is calibrated to the same system.
    3100 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/26/2012 11:44:20 PM
    If rounded up then it IS calorie inflation.

    You're right. It is rounded. If you pull up the nutritional details for the eggs, it shows 10.0g fat and 12.4g protein.

    10 x 9 = 90
    12.4 x 4 = 49.6

    90+49.6 = 139.6 ~ 140
    3101 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/26/2012 8:05:09 PM
    It could be an anomalie due to rounding. I saw that one food item on your list was was 10g fat and 12 g protein which would add up to 138 calories but it was listed at 140. It was probably like 10.3 grams fat which was rounded down to 10 when it was put in the tracker but the calories still go through at 92 since it's a whole number.
    3101 days ago
    I'm using the macronutrient grams Spark reports. I just get a different number when I actually add the calorie calculation.
    3101 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/26/2012 8:15:33 PM
    It looks like your math is correct - I started to think maybe they were calculating 5 calories per gram of protein but that doesn't add up either.

    Does the Spark tracker count the same number of grams of each macronutrient? That is, if you are entering items by the item itself, there might be a discrepancy between the number of grams you are using and the number of grams they are using - so if you thought XYZ had 16g of protein and the spark tracker thinks XYZ has 17g or 18g of protein, that could account for it.

    In other words, the discrepancy could be accounted by SP thinking what you ate had 6g more of carb/protein plus 9g more of fat than you calculated - [or 15g carb/protein + 9g fat].

    Either way, you might want to point out the discrepancy to the tech support people because there's apparently something hinky in their program - but it might not matter in the long run. A lot of people don't understand that many [all] of these 'counts' are nothing more than educated guesses based on sampling and individual servings may vary. If you are cooking your own food or eating raw foods, it doesn't take much variance to throw off a calorie calculation.
    3101 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/26/2012 7:33:44 PM
    Okay... that's just weird. I just went back in my tracker and checked a couple of days, and they add up correctly. I wonder what that's all about?

    Now, it's not like I consistently track, but how is person supposed to trust the tracker knowing it actually can be wrong?

    3101 days ago
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