In Part 1 I talked about how important movement, any movement, is in overally daily caloric expenditure. (Now everyone-get up, walk around the house, and come back. Seriously. Or prop up your computer and stand, that’ll work.)
(You guys are going to think I’m lying, but I seriously got up and took the dog for a 15 minute walk and came back.)
Another option-and this thing I totally love, can’t believe I didn’t come up with myself and get a lot of reading done on-is the SurfShelf. It rocks. And then today I found Hulu. I may never watch TV on the couch again. But now I’m WAY off topic, and it’s only the beginning of the article. Yeesh.)
Back on it…
Calorie intake and you
In this “episode”, we’re going to touch on the importance calories you take in the food (or franken-food, or whatever you like) that you eat. Something that people tend to forget is that EVERYTHING counts. The cream in your coffee, the scraps when you clean up dinner, the extra spoonful of rice-it all counts. And it can all add up. To the tune of several hundred calories or more.
There has been a good bit of scientific research on this, and the people that “eat hardly anything and still can’t lose weight.” I will preface this with saying there are some medical conditions, medications, and issues that can make it very difficult for some individuals to lose weight. But that is a TINY percentage of the overall. And frankly-this is one area where you really don’t want to be a unique snowflake. That’s a whole ‘nother medical can of worms.
More than likely, it is an issue of eating more than you think you are.
I am going to give you a bit of research that backs up what I am saying. I will tell you, don’t blindly trust what anyone has to say about research though, not even me. Go to the source, and read the paper. Research can and often is, skewed to meet whatever result is desired. So once again-get educated and make an informed decision. (My friend Leigh Peele has a section on deciphering research in her Body By Eats, and a nice overview is also presented by the Guttmacher Institute here.) And if you are really a science nerd like me, you might want to check out Alan Aragon’s Research Review.
The paper by Lichtman et al in N Engl J Med. 1992 Dec 31;327(27):1893-8, indicated in their conclusion that:
The failure of some obese subjects to lose weight while eating a diet they report as low in calories is due to an energy intake substantially higher than reported and an overestimation of physical activity, not to an abnormality in thermogenesis.
Underreported food intake at an average of 47%!! And they are not by any stretch implying that this underreporting was done intentionally. Physical activity was overreported at an average of 51%. That’s a huge, ginormous difference between perception and reality. Another study by Asbeck et al showed underreporting in normal weight subjects. It happens. The key is actually KNOWING what you are eating, not just guessing.
Measuring vs. weighing
Some people like to measure their food with cups and spoons. While that is totally fine, and works for some, if you are trying to lose fat and feel like you are stuck, or you don’t know why you’re not losing-you may be eating more than you think. Check out the video (put together by Leigh Peele)
You can see that weighing is much more accurate. And it’s really no more difficult than measuring, in fact I think it’s easier. Get a decent digital scale and you’re good to go, you don’t have to mess with different sizes of measuring devices. Set whatever you want to put the food in on the scale, tare it back to zero and off you go. Easy-peasy.
I can guarantee you will be surprised. There are countless stories of dieters who have been frustrated to tears or homicidal tendencies, and when they began weighing and calculating their food so they were actually eating the calories they THOUGHT they were-the weight came off. If there is a magic bullet at all to the fat loss game, it’s that. Know what you’re eating.
Putting it together
Then of course, put it together so you can see what your intake is on a daily basis. I’ve been using Fitday PC for years, I like it, I have all my custom foods there, it’s easy to repeat foods if you tend to eat something often with the favorites feature-it works well-it’s familiar. I’ve tried a few others, but didn’t like them as much.
It is important to be able to log your food in weight measures like grams and ounces, not just cups or servings. So look for that.
A few that people use are Sparkpeople, The Daily Plate, Calorie King, Diet Controller, Nutridiary, a personal Excel spreadsheet, or a notebook. Whatever. NutritionData is great for getting nutritional info as well, not a tracker. Some of these are paid, some free-so it’s up to you. Fitday PC (the download version) gets a lot of positive feedback from what I have read/heard-and obviously it’s what I use. I understand that Nutridiary allows you to track in weight, so that may be a good free option.
When you get a good handle of how much energy you are taking in, and how much you are putting out (see Part 1 for details) then you can begin to make adjustments if you want/need to.
Oversimplified-if you want to lose weight and you are not-eat less and move more. If you’re happy where you’re at keep doing it! If you want to gain, eat more.
Of course, quality of food does matter. Absolutely it does. However, you can’t beat thermodynamics.
Let me know how you make out! If you use a different method of tracking, or if you use one of the methods I mentioned above and you like or hate it-speak up. I love hearing from you all!