Advantages of using a calorie tracker
Author: Melissa Lahti
April 21, 2012
Dieting is a $40 billion dollar industry in America. There are way too many choices and mostly everyone knows none of these diets will work long term. What I have come to discover over the years is that the best way to control weight is by keeping track of the calories a person intakes. Logically itís that simple. The whole reason a person gains weight is simply because they are not burning more calories than they put in. Recently, I have been putting on a few pounds despite the fact that my job is highly active and I am far from a couch potato. So I decided to start tracking my calories to see what it is I am doing wrong.
I started by finding a good calorie tracker on the web. There are many out there that offer great services for free. Never pay for a calorie tracker. One I have used before, that I like, is fitday.com. But my personal favorite and the one I am currently using is MyFitnessPal.com. In addition to their website, they also offer many apps for many different types of smart phones. I have found that having the app on my phone is very handy. I enter the food as I eat and it only takes a minute. Although, not having a smart phone will not be a problem. Just take about 5 to 10 minutes at the end of the day to enter in all the food you have eaten. This website keeps a data base of all the food people enter and as the database grows, you can pretty much find every food you can imagine ready to add to your diary. Some foods you may have to enter in manually. There are some apps on certain smart phones that also include a bar scanner where all you need to do is scan the barcode on the package and it enters the food for you. If you cook at home a lot there is even a recipe builder where you enter in the ingredients one at a time and it will tell you the total calories for that meal.
Now that you have found a calorie counter you are ready to get started. It will have you enter your current weight and measurements as well as your goal weight. Based on that it will calculate the amount of calories you should be eating in a day. A 1200 calorie diet should cause a person to lose about 2 pounds a week. A person should never go under 1200 calories in a day. This will only confuse your body into thinking it is starving and cause it to retain fat as a source of energy.
The first day I tried this turned out to be a big shocker as I was eating way more calories than I realized. I knew it was going to be high since I had gained weight and was not able to lose it. I just didnít realize it would be as high as it was. I totaled out at 2522 calories for the day. For breakfast I had only eaten a bowl of cereal and one piece of toast. That alone totaled 530 calories. Being on a 1200 calorie diet a person needs to try to stay around 400 calories per meal. I would have never thought a simple bowl of cereal would be so much. Once I went to work, the problems started. We always go out to lunch and the place of choice is almost always the California Pizza Kitchen (CPK). I ordered one of my favorites, the roasted garlic chicken pizza. This is a personal pizza and is intended to be eaten by one person. I later found out, its 1042 calories. The CPK does not offer a nutrition information sheet at their restaurant unless the law requires it in your state. They do however offer their nutrition information on their website, as many restaurants do. After looking at that I was in total shock texting everyone who eats with me telling them what I had discovered and realizing why I was gaining so much weight. Thank goodness I always drink water with my meals or it would have added at least another 400 calories. Probably even more since the waiters refill our soda while we mindlessly eat and sip away never realizing how much soda we actually drink.
My calories already add up to a whopping 1572 as I join my boyfriend after work at the neighborhood Starbucks for my daily relaxation routine. I ordered my favorite drink, a Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte with whip. Glad I enjoyed it because it is sure to be my last after finding out that it added another 330 calories to my day now totaling 1902. After all this bad news for the day, I still have to eat dinner. I am feeling rather depressed at this very moment and my boyfriend and I decide to go to a little local restaurant in our neighborhood. I chose to have a top sirloin steak with mashed potatoes and texas toast. Lucky the mashed potatoes didnít taste good and I didnít eat them. Even without the potatoes this meal was still 620 calories. For exercise today the only thing I did was walk to the CPK for lunch. This is one mile there and back. Walking at a pretty fast pace this burned only 200 calories, fewer than I thought it would have been. By the end of the day I was over my calories by 1122 and determined to do better tomorrow.
The problem in America is that no one ever realizes what we are putting into our bodies. We live to eat and not eat to live when it should be the other way around. Each one of us needs to be conscious of what we are eating and most importantly watch our portion control. Keep in mind that most meals you will get from a restaurant are actually two servings. While I have seen many Americans complain they are not getting enough. Once a person starts counting their calories it opens the eyes to what is actually out there and helps a person to make a conscious decision about what to eat and what not to eat.