Those Calorie Counts on Labels Aren't as Accurate as You Think They Are

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by Lexi Patronis, Glamour

Reading labels on the foods you're about to eat or buy is a good thing, right? It's an important step in understanding what's could be in (or shouldn't be in) there, so you know what's about to go into your bod.

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But recent studies are pointing to the fact that the calorie counts on said labels are actually probably just guesstimates. It seems that the process of calculating the number of calories in foods comes from the early 20th century, and scientists say that it's antiquated. How we prepare food--slicing, mashing, and even chewing--can affect the number of calories we end up with; other calories are "locked up" during digestion and remain unused in our bellies; and there are bacteria that live in our guts that skim calories off the top, too.

The differences between what's on the label and what's actually in the food can be quite small in some cases, say experts, but can be as much as 50 percent. For example: a processed potato is about 300 calories. But, because processing takes some of the work out of digestion, a whole, unprocessed potato is likely only about 200 calories. And a serving of almonds is thought to be about 170 calories, but a recent study found that, due to a certain amount of indigestible fat from the almonds, it's probably only about 130.

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Experts are in the process of rebooting the calorie system to better gauge how many calories we really get from food. And, in the meantime, they say that these calorie inaccuracies aren't likely to make much of an impact on people who are watching their weight.

So interesting, though! Do you use labels to count calories?

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