How Many Squats In A Mince Pie?

Someone showed me an article recently that stated, food labels should be required to tell you how much exercise it takes to burn off calories. Sigh. A good idea in theory, but a bad idea in practice.


Firstly, food labels are often very misleading. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally. So, your first problem is whether you can actually believe what is on them. Packaging will have phrases like ‘low sugar’ or ‘no added sugar,’ which don’t mean what you think they mean, they usually just mean a little bit less than before. You’re essentially asking companies, who don’t want to lose your custom, to police themselves. Because that always works out so well.


Then, even if you can trust them to be truthful, how do you know they’re right? There’s no way every item of food would be strictly tested, those numbers you see on the packages are a rough estimation of what the product should contain. I guarantee you, if you take four items of the same product, and thoroughly tested them, each one would come back with a slightly different calorific and nutritional content. So, whilst labelling gives you a useful idea of the numbers, you need to understand that it’s not a definite number, it’s a guesstimation.


But, how many squats do I have to do to burn one hundred calories? I don’t know, how long’s a piece of string? The second issue is that it’s so difficult to quantify the calories burnt in exercise, it’s very subjective. What kind of squats, are you using equipment, what weight? Even the basic fact that your body would probably be different to the model they used to quantify it in the first place! If you’re heavier, you’re burning more calories. If you have a higher muscle mass, you’re burning more calories. Your squat and my squat are probably two very different numbers.


So, it’s clear that if you’re trying to live your life by the exact numbers of packaging and exercise, you’re likely to be way off. They’re estimations, and a good starting point, but as soon as you’re not getting the results you want, you need to change things. Also, there’s the fact that it’s just lazy. It might be harsh to say, but why would you try and put the responsibility of your poor eating habits on food and its packaging? You’re in control, you know what’s happening to your body. If you want to change it, that’s your responsibility. See you next week.


Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer