When it comes to weight gain or loss, a calorie is a calorie. But there is much confusion over how those calories “tip the scales” based on what the source of caloric intake.
This begs the question, are restaurants doing consumers favors by putting calorie information on their menus. Is the answer yes, no, or maybe?
According to the July 30, Wall Street Journal, “A Drexel University study found fast-food restaurants in areas where calorie counts are required on menus have a higher percentage of healthy menu items, but showed no difference in the nutritional value of menus overall.”
Another study funded by the City of New York “reviewed about 15,000 receipts and surveys from fast-food lunch patrons before and after the city required those restaurants to list calories on menus showed no change in the average calories bought,” the WSJ reported.
Carbohydrates and protein have 4 calories per gram. Fats, however, contain 9 calories per gram – twice as much as carbohydrates or protein. There is nutritional value in all three, but the way they stack up as components of one’s diet can be very different.
The body is very complex, and food elicits hormonal responses when consumed. For example, if the food you eat contains fiber, you will feel full longer, and if you choose fruits and vegetables or other low-fat foods, the amount of calories you consume are cut in half over the same portion of high-fat foods.
Countless studies have shown that diets based on the same amount of calories, but different proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrates, result in different amounts of weight loss or gain.
A wise choice for those looking to lose weight, odd as it may be, would be to eat a salad for breakfast. Not only will you feel full longer, but you will leave room for “extra” calories when hunger pangs descend on you.
Will the proposed federal law that would require restaurants with 20 or more locations to provide calorie info on their menus make a difference in the overall health of our nation? Maybe. But research indicates that there will be no noticeable change.
If restaurants ditch the bacon and egg breakfasts and start offering salads instead during the early morning hours, would that make a difference? Probably. But changing people’s eating habits is a far greater challenge than updating menus.
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