Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tracking calories

Do you, or have you ever kept track of what you eat?  Did you lose weight or gain muscle or improve your athletic performance as a results from tracking the foods you eat?

As a fitness professional, it is out of my scope of practice to offer nutritional advice to any of my clients, however, I do certainly cover the basics.  Items such as timing of foods, types of foods to consider, foods to avoid, and keeping track of foods eaten are some of the things I typically discuss with clients regularly.

Today's post will cover tracking your foods.  And before one can truly know how many calories they need to track and consume to meet their goals (lose weight, gain muscle, maintain weight, etc.) it's important to know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).  Sixty to seventy percent (60-70%) of one's total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) comes from BMR.  So once you know how many calories your body expends during a day based on your normal activities, you'll have a better idea of how many calories you'll need to consume to stay on track of your goal.  Keep in mind that when you exercise, you will be expending more energy (calories) and hence will need to adjust your calories consumed to keep energy levels up.

By tracking your calories, you'll be able to closely monitor what you eat; helping you to meet your daily goals, and will also be able to tell where the majority of your nutrients (carbs, fats, protein, alcohol) are coming from.  As a former professional athlete, the majority of my fuel came from carbs, and during heavy training months, making sure I was eating adequate amounts of carbs was crucial to my athletic performance.  I relied heavily on to ensure I was getting not only adequate calories, but enough of each nutrient during my intense training.  You will be surprised to find out what you eat is far more or far less than you think.

If you decide to track your calories, here are a few things to consider according to Dr.Anne McTiernan, director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

     1.  record everything you eat; don't try to impress yourself by leaving out the ice cream
     2.  be as accurate as possible; read the labels and weigh/measure your food portions
     3.  be consistent; track your foods regularly each day, every week for a few weeks

Although I found good use from using FitDay, I would recommend My Fitness Pal as a better option for the online/App user.  Their food database is much more elaborate, it's more user friendly.  FitDay didn't have lots of non-traditional foods (almond butter, coconut oil, etc), so it required you to enter your own foods more often (very time consuming).

No comments: