It can be difficult to know exactly how many calories you burn each day, but keeping a food diary can give you an accurate number of how many calories you consume. Knowing your average daily calorie consumption is helpful if you are stuck at your current weight because you can use the information you obtain from your food diary to calculate how many calories you need to eat in order to lose weight. In order to lose about one pound per week, you have to consume about 500 calories per day, or about 3,500 calories per week, less than you burn.
Why is keeping a food diary, log or journal effective?
- It gives you an accurate way to identify your calorie consumption – The more you read food labels and measure the food that you eat—ideally with a food scale—the more accurate your calorie count will be.
- There is a psychological factor – By tracking everything you eat you are forced to acknowledge poor food choices like sugary foods, drinks and alcoholic beverages.
- It helps you to spot the foods that contain empty calories so you can adjust your diet.
- It teaches you about food, diet and your personal eating habits – You can figure out which times of the day you crave high calorie snacks and when eat your biggest meals. Now you can adjust your calorie intake throughout the day to save some extra calories for when your body craves food the most.
- It allows you to adjust your calorie intake without crash dieting – By adjusting your calorie intake to a moderate deficit you will have more energy throughout the day. This helps you to remain active and sustains your energy so you can exercise which assists you in losing weight, keeping the weight off, toning your muscles and improving your overall health.
- For those of you who want to gain weight and build muscle, a food log is a valuable tool for you as well. It offers you the same ability to identify how many calories you are consuming as those who are trying to lose weight, but instead of subtracting calories you add them to your diet. This helps you to appropriately adjust your food intake and attain your desired results.
Keeping a food log is something that REAL STORIES’ Nicole does every day, and it has been an effective method to help her lose weight even though she battles with hypothyroidism. When you track the food that you eat and the calories you consume each day, you empower yourself with the information you need to lose weight.
“I plan my meals ahead and keep a food diary to regulate calories and carbs,” said Nicole. “I’m no saint though; I still eat carbs and drink beer. I even indulge in ice cream and cake on occasion. The key is moderation.”
If it seems tedious or difficult to track and calculate your calories don’t worry. There are several free online and mobile applications that make it more convenient than ever to keep a log of the foods you eat and your daily calorie intake. The USDA offers an excellent tool called SuperTracker that allows you to customize a profile based on information about you such as your height, weight and goal, while allowing you to easily track your food and calculate your calories. SuperTracker even suggests how many calories you need to reduce and/or consume in order to get to a healthy weight. Of course you can always just write down your food and calorie intake on a good old-fashioned piece of paper or in a notebook.
As you look over your food diary it becomes easier to spot the empty calorie culprits that you can remove from your diet—things like sugary or fried foods—to reduce your calorie consumption. Many people also find that reducing or eliminating sugary beverages and alcohol makes a significant difference. In fact you might be surprised to find that many fruit juices have a considerable amount of calories and added sugar.
So keep up the hard work and your results are sure to come. As always LIVING HEALTHY will be here to help you along the way, and if you have any questions or topics that you would like us to cover be sure to let us know in out comments section below.