Do Food Labels Lie About Calories?

If you’re keen on losing weight, you may be careful about checking the information on food labels. However, what you need to know is that food labels don’t tell you everything, especially when it comes to calories. A calorie is a measure of the amount of energy you’ll gain by eating a particular food.

Food labels indicate the number of calories a specific food has, but they don’t say the number of calories you get depends on the level of processing the food has gone through.

Processed Foods Can Make You Gain Weight

Food processing involves mashing, pounding, blending, cooking, or using refined rather unrefined food items. You can do it yourself, or it can be done in the food industries before buying. It has lots of impacts on the calories your body gains. If you eat raw foods, you can lose weight.

Shapely waistline

But if you cook it, you may end up gaining weight. The food is the same, the amount of calories is the same, but processing produces a different effect. Be sure to keep an eye out for Misleading Food Label Claims to know what exactly you’re getting from a particular food, depending on whether you want to lose or gain weight.

More Processing Promotes Complete Digestion

No matter whether you’re eating carbs, proteins, or fats, experiments indicate that processing impacts calorie gain. More processing gives you more energy.

For instance, if you eat starchy foods when they’re raw, some of them may pass through the intestines undigested, which means your body will get a lesser amount of calories. And even if the food is cooked, the digestion will vary. Cold foods are digested slowly, and they give out fewer calories. On the other hand, hot foods give out more calories.

Why Food Labels Lie

Predicting the exact amount of extra calories that you’ll gain after processing food is hard. Therefore, food labels are faced with two tough choices. They can either indicate the number of calories without considering the effects of processing or consider processing without offering any exact numbers. Since these two choices are both difficult, most food labels have chosen to ignore the impacts of food processing, and this leaves us confused.


Since calorie counting is crucial, especially to people who want to lose weight, opening the discussion on whether food labels overestimate or understate calories is an excellent idea. Also, as consumers, it would be wise for us to practice mindful eating – knowing how much we’re eating and how full we feel.