A 'calorie detective' found something shocking about the calorie listings on food labels

Screen Shot 2016 01 02 at 2.51.37 PMCasey Neistat/YouTube

Walk into any grocery store or bodega for a packaged snack and you'll probably be able to find the nutritional information. Or if you're stopping by a fast-food spot or chain restaurant, chances are you'll be reminded of just how many calories you're about to consume, thanks to the listings on the menu.

How spot-on are these listings?

Filmmaker Casey Neistat decided to test the accuracy for himself on five different food items, with the help of two food scientists and their bomb calorimeter at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center.

"By testing only five items, my little study is hardly conclusive," he writes on The New York Times.

But his findings certainly raise a few red flags. Here's what he found and documented in his 2013 short film "The Truth Behind Calorie Labels":

He picked the foods he would typically eat in a single day, starting with a packaged "yogurt muffin." The muffin supposedly had a whopping 640 calories — according to the food scientists' bomb calorimeter, it has an incredible 734.7 calories packed into it.

Casey Neistat/YouTube

Next up was a grande Starbucks Frappuccino with whipped cream. Starbucks claimed it contained 370 calories, and they weren't far off — Neistat found a discrepancy of just 22.9 calories. "The girls at Starbucks liked me. They probably just gave me an extra squirt."

Casey Neistat/YouTube

There was a bit more of a discrepancy with the Chipotle barbacoa burrito. The actual count was about 10% more than what Chipotle claimed, a fairly significant amount of unaccounted-for calories.

Casey Neistat/YouTube

The biggest shocker was the vegan, kosher, and self-proclaimed "healthy" tofu sandwich. The actual calorie content was almost double what the label claimed: a shocking 548.4 calories. That about equates it to a McDonald's Big Mac.

Casey Neistat/YouTube

And finally, he put Subway to the test. The 6-inch sub was the only item that came in under the declared amount, by about 10 calories.

Casey Neistat/Business Insider

All in all, Neistat calculated that if he based his diet on the calorie counts provided to him, he would have consumed about 550 extra calories. "Today's 548 calorie discrepancy means I unknowingly ate a McDonald's quarter-pounder with cheese, or two hamburgers worth of calories, or two Snickers, or a couple of donuts."

Casey Neistat/YouTube

Watch the full video "The Truth Behind Calorie Labels."

To learn how to make healthy recipes at home, scroll through the gallery below:

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A 'calorie detective' found something shocking about the calorie listings on food labels

Kelsey Nixon's Lemon Chicken Quinoa Soup

This twist on chicken noodle soup is another way to boost your protein. Plus, swapping noodles for quinoa allows you to eliminate gluten. To make this dish taste extra good: Dish about half a cup of quinoa into your bowl and pour the soup right over the top, rather than mixing it together, to maintain that delicious flavor.

(Photo: Rachel Ray Show)

Kelsey Nixon's Banana Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies

Our culinary team couldn't stop raving about these cookies -- and for good reason. This recipe calls for a number of items you can feel good about serving to your family -- everything from coconut, to oats and peanut butter. For an even healthier option: Try swapping the chocolate chips for raisins. Either way, this will be a recipe you'll be making for years to come.

(Photo: Rachel Ray Show)

Kelsey Nixon's Pork and Apple Meatballs with Quinoa

Want to up your amount of protein intake? This recipe will allow you to do just that, as it combines pork with quinoa to make even the pickiest of eaters happy. Kelsey recommends serving the meatballs with egg noodles, parsley and parmesan cheese -- a combination that is as winning as it is affordable.

(Photo: Rachel Ray Show)

Kelsey Nixon’s Roasted Vegetable Panini with Herbed Feta Spread

A roasted vegetable sandwich?! Talk about a great way to save money at lunchtime! If you don't have a panini press at home, you can make this in a cast-iron skillet and just put another heavy pan on top and weigh it down with a couple of tin cans.
(Photo: Rachel Ray Show)

Kelsey Nixon’s Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

This is a perfect hearty, comfort food-type dish that is still jam-packed with nutritional value. It looks as good as it taste, plus it allows for the roasted vegetables to be the shining star. Your kids will love this dish, and so will anyone else who takes a bite.
(Photo: Rachel Ray Show)


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