Calorie-tracking apps like Lose It! and My Fitness Pal are incredibly popular. The way these apps work is simple: one just logs the food and drinks they’ve consumed, and when they do, the app tells them how many calories each item has.
Usually, these calorie listings are fairly straightforward. However, as TikTok user Jill (@notmamajill) recently noted, there can be issues with their calculations.
“I had a Sweet Tea from McDonald’s, and I looked it up on the Lose It! app to go put it in. It says a large Sweet Tea is 440 calories,” Jill explains. “And I go look it up on the McDonald’s app—170 calories for a large…That’s a huge difference.”
Jill’s video currently has over 765,000 views.
So which answer is correct?
According to McDonald’s website, the calorie count changes whether one gets a normal Sweet Tea or a “Southern-Style” Sweet Tea.
These numbers line up with their declared sugar content. McDonald’s says the normal Sweet Tea has 40 grams of added sugar, which would amount to 155 calories. The Southern Style Sweet Tea has 49 grams of added sugar, or 190 calories. These line up approximately with the drinks’ declared calorie amounts.
However, last year, a former McDonald’s employee claimed that their Sweet Tea was made with a pound of sugar per gallon of tea.
As a large Sweet Tea is 32 oz, this would mean that it contains a quarter pound of sugar. If this is the case, that would mean that the true caloric value of the Sweet Tea is closer to Lose It!’s estimate of 440 calories, as a quarter pound of sugar has 439 calories.
“They use 3 cups of sugar for 2 gallons… so could be 400,” one user claimed in the comments section on Jill’s video.
That said, it’s possible that the Lose It! calculation comes from a drink served without ice, whereas the McDonald’s calculation assumes that a certain amount of ice will offset the amount of liquid in the cup.
“The amount of ice could change everything too,” explained a commenter.
Other users in the comments shared their thoughts on the issue, with some providing potential explanations for the caloric differences.
“I use The Lose it app too and they’re way off on a lot of things lol,” shared a user. “I have to edit the nutrition info a lot!”
“Depends on the day,” detailed another. “I swear some days it’s so sugary and some days they’re stingy.”
“It’s supposed to be as it is posted , but due to how it’s made at each location, 400 is not a shock,” summarized a third.
The Daily Dot reached out to McDonald’s and Jill via email.