Pocket Food Journal | Diet Tracking
In my last post, I talked about Taking Weight Loss Progress Photos and Body Measurements during your weight loss journey. While I feel this is still the best route to maintain your motivation during weight loss, I want to shift gears and talk about diet tracking.
In this blog post I will talk about the importance of using technology such as MyFitnessPal to track your daily weight loss diet and maintain your caloric allowance.
The Basics of Weight Loss
In order to lose weight, you have to be in a caloric deficit. When I say caloric deficit, I mean this… One pound of stored body fat is the equivalent of 3500 calories. In order to lose one pound of body fat per week, you must either burn 3500 extra calories doing cardio while eating at maintenance, or restrict your maintenance caloric allowance by 3500 calories. The best idea is to do a combination of both…
So the first step in weight loss is to determine your BMR or basal metabolic rate. You use energy no matter what you’re doing, even when sleeping. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories you’d burn if you stayed in bed all day. I use this BMR Calculator. For example, my BMR at 6’, 194lbs is 2005.
Once you determine your BMR, you can then calculate your daily caloric needs based on your activity level. For this you will use the Harris Benedict Equation. Since I am moderately active, working out 5 days per week, I would multiply my BMR by 1.55. 2005 x 1.55 = 3100 calories. I could theoretically eat 3100 calories per day and maintain my weight, as long as I continue to exercise 3-5 days per week.
Now that you have figured out your maintenance caloric level, a good guideline is to reduce your maintenance calories by -500 calories. If you reduce your daily maintenance calories by -500 calories every day, this would equal -3500 calories per week, or one pound of stored body fat. Couple this with extra cardio and you could bump that weight loss to two pounds per week, easily. I would personally not go below -1000 calories below maintenance. Increase cardio instead.
Track Your Diet Religously!
So now that the math is out of the way, I hope you’re still with me because now we will get into the benefits of MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal iPhone app has been a life saver for me. Especially while trying to lose weight while traveling for work on business trips. The app is seamless, it allows you to input your daily caloric goals, or will also calculate it for you if you prefer. Before I started using MyFitnessPal, I used to use FitDay.com back in my college days (before iPhones). FitDay was great also, but it is only available on the internet.
The convenience of the iPhone app is what will really begin helping you in your weight loss journey. You now have no excuse to “forget” to track your food. It will always be in your pocket. It also seamlessly integrates into your iPad and online through the web site. MyFitnessPal will also track your cardio and give you rough guidelines of calories burned for the type and length of cardio exercises.
If you are just beginning to use a food journal, you will be blown away by how many calories are in your favorite foods. MyFitnessPal helped me out greatly at restaurants while traveling. I can now quickly put in a description of what I want to eat and the restaurant name, and poof… I get multiple results! I always skim through the results for the most complete nutrition information entry. (users can upload their own, so results vary)
Flexibility to Add Custom Foods and Scan Barcodes!
Another nice feature is building your own custom food, and also the quick and convenient barcode scanner. If you make a recipe, you will be able to create this food and it also saves it for future use. I now have quick access to my Mark’s Daily Apple Sausage Stuffed, Bacon Wrapped, Jalapeno Poppers!
You can guesstimate your daily food intake, but then again you could also keep gaining weight… Or you could get a quality food tracker such as MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, LiveStrong, or the many variations available on your favorite app store and begin losing weight!
I cannot stress the fact enough that you must track your daily food intake for your diet if you want to lose weight! You must add accountability for everything you eat. Track your food for one week and let me know if you see a difference. I promise you will!
View my next blog on Carb Cycling Diets