I currently use MyFitnessPal to estimate my calorie intake for the day, but it’s always just that – an estimate.  Researchers at GE, however, are hoping to change that.  io9 writes:

It’s impossible to know how many calories we’re about to consume just by glancing at the food on our plate. That’s why the researchers at GE are trying to build a universal calorie counter. Here’s how it would work.

By analyzing various foods for their fat and water content, Webster and his team determined the average calorie density for certain foods. This analysis allowed them to devise an equation that estimates calories in food with just three simple measurements: weight, fat content, and water content. The remainder accounts for the combination of sugars, carbohydrates, proteins, and other ingredients.

The researchers are currently testing the system on simple mixtures of oil, water and sugar. They’ve got a prototype, but their ultimate goal is to create a push-button device that could be used in everyday kitchens. Eventually, they’d like to link the device to smartphone apps or a workout band.

It’s not quite magic, and it’s certainly not 100% accurate, but it’s definitely better than “Well, I guess I’ll just log a thousand calories for this huge meal.”