Day 175: The myth that is the Nutrition Facts label

Day 175 - front

  • Weight: 137.0 lbs.
  • Workout C: 22 minutes, 40 seconds; next: Workout C, Feb. 25
  • Total inches: 123.3
  • Protein: 145 g (16 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,308

Reading the Nutrition Facts label on food is a waste of time. Unless you’re looking for a lovely fairy tale.

Video: New York filmmaker Casey Neistat investigates
calorie data on foods for the New York Times.

As we’ve explored before, counting calories is more art than science. You must estimate the calories in cooking a recipe, or evaluating portion size. You must, with every bite, guess.

How woefully inadequate, whether trying to gain or lose weight.

Casey Neistat, a filmmaker based in New York, looked at foods he ate on a typical day in a report for the New York Times. The city requires restaurants to post calories on their menus.

Neistat bought five things from both stores and restaurants. With the Times’ journalistic resources at his disposal, he had those foods analyzed at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center in a bomb calorimeter.

(You could do it yourself, after spending several thousand dollars on the equipment, not to mention the training needed.)

Four of the five foods tested had more calories than reported on the Nutrition Facts label. Of the four, two were packaged items, while the other two were made at restaurants upon ordering.


He would’ve accidentally consumed 20 percent more calories than expected, some 549 calories.

Neistat asks in conclusion, “If the requirement to post the information (on caloric content) is going to be enforced, why not also enforce its accuracy?”

Oy, I may have wasted 6 months counting calories, when at best, I was counting pixies.

Day 175 - side