Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Weight Loss and Food Logs

Hello again! Can you believe we are already a month into the New Year? Hopefully you are into some sort of a routine, now that the holidays (and Super Bowl) are in the past. When you take a look at how your health and fitness goals, where do you stand from where you expected to be? Are you behind, or stuck in a rut? A good way to figure out where the issue may be is to keep a food log. Now now, I know it’s a lot of work and very tedious. A food log is actually jam packed with useful information, regardless if you use technology such as an app or old fashioned paper and pencil. It helps to determine if you are in a caloric deficit (for weight loss) or surplus (weight gain). Let’s take a look at what it may tell you.

First of all, let’s define food log. This is a journal of what you eat, how much you eat and, sometimes, when you eat. Everything that goes in your mouth goes in the food log. This includes dressings and sauces, as well as water and gum. In keeping a food log, it’s important to record the amount of food. For example a burrito means something different if you make it at home versus grabbing it at some take out place. How much cereal is in a bowl of cereal? A detailed food log will help with this. If you are super diligent, record the time you eat what. This will tell you how long you are going between eating something and where your big meals fall over the course of a day.

Next, let’s look at what a food log tells you. Based on the above, it tells you how much you eat, and sometimes how often. If you take the time to look up nutritional information, the food log becomes invaluable because it describes what type of calories you are consuming. We’ve all heard about “good carbs” versus “bad carbs,” and same thing with fats. Knowing where your calories are coming from helps to solve part of the weight loss puzzle. A huge component in this is sugar intake. Sugar is everywhere, even in supposedly “healthy” items. A perfect example of this is those vitamin enhanced waters. Reading the label of one, it has 13 grams of sugar per 8 ounce serving. In that 20 ounce bottle, there are over 30 grams of sugar! A can of soda typically has 35-40 grams of sugar. Reduce your sugar intake by eating more complex carbohydrates such as whole grains or even swapping for protein – it will help your body function more efficiently and you will be less likely to suffer that “sugar crash.”

Finally, what’s the best way to keep a food log? It depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle. What is important is to make sure it’s an accurate representation of your diet for that time period. Logging your food right as you eat it helps to keep it up to date. Also, logging food may have the side effect of making you aware of what you are eating. You might be more likely to grab an apple instead of a candy bar if you have to write it down or input into an app on your Smartphone.

I would say give a food log a try – it can’t hurt anything and can tell you quite a bit about your eating habits. Keep up the good work, and I’ll see you at the gym!