What is the Best Way to Keep Track of What You Eat When You Want to Create Healthier Eating Habits or for Weight-Loss ?
If weight- loss is your main aim then counting calories or carbohydrates is a time-tested way to do it.
There are numerous studies which show that tracking your food intake and the amount of exercise that you do are effective ways to shed excess weight.
In fact calorie counting led participants of a study to lose 3.3kg more than those who didn’t and in another one where participants monitored everything that they ate for 12 weeks, lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t monitor consistently.
Those that did not monitor at all actually put on weight.
In conclusion the more consistent you are at recording, the better.
Counting calories whether on paper, online or in a mobile app helps you lose weight by giving you an overview of what you eat each day.
This in turn can help you identify eating patterns to correct which in turn keeps you on track to reach your health and weight goals.
There are several ways of counting calories or monitoring your food consumption. According to various studies, the method you pick doesn’t really matter so long as it’s the one that you have personally chosen and is most suited for you and your lifestyle.
The top four most popular apps are:
MyFitnessPal, Lose It, FatSecret and Cron-o-meter.
Most of us have a natural tendency to inaccurately estimate how many calories we eat. To counteract this, I suggest that for about two to three weeks you measure your food using cups or scales. This will help you measure food portions more accurately.
You might also want to try using the following visual guidelines to estimate your portion sizes. They’re less accurate, but useful if you have limited access to a scale or measuring cups:
An important point to take into account is that counting calories only allows you to evaluate your diet from a quantity perspective and not from a perspective of good quality, nutritious food.
When it comes to health, 100 calories from strawberries will affect your health differently than 100 calories from donuts.
Therefore, avoid picking foods solely based on their calorie content. Instead, make sure you also consider their vitamin and mineral contents. You can do so by picking foods which have been less processed i.e. the less brightly coloured packaging the food has the better !
The only way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn.
Those interested in monitoring their food or giving calorie counting a try, should keep in mind that not all calories are the same. Therefore, make sure to build your menu around whole nutrient dense foods and don’t base your food choices on calories alone.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !