What is the Best Way to Calculate Calories? | Q+A

What is the Best Way to Calculate Calories? | Q+A

Question:

What’s the best way to calculate calories?

– Jonatan A.

Answer:

If you are strictly speaking of counting calories consumed, then the gold standard for calorie values is the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. The most current is Release 28 from August 2017. Using this resource, calculating individual foods yourself is laborious. Meet diet analysis software! As long as the program or website you are using has a comprehensive database (over 20,000 foods) and common portions, you should be able to enter a day’s worth of intake in under an hour. The more detailed and specific you are in recording what you ate, the more accurate the report will be. There are several consumer-friendly versions of software used by dietary professionals. My favorite software for purchase is Nutribase Personal Plus or FoodWorks, and online www.Nutrihand.com or www.FitDay.com for free.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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New Year, New You: How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

New Year, New You: How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

“Resolution” doesn’t mean change. It means a firm decision to do or not to do something. Hearing it makes me think of related words like: Resolute. Resolve. Stand your ground. Stanchion. Rock. Unwavering. Solid. Committed. Willpower. Sense of purpose. Driven.

Imagine yourself standing in front of a challenge with your fists on your hips. In charge, in command. Ready to take on the world! No temptations getting in your way. Feeling like you’re invincible.

Resolving to do something is action-based. You are the subject, the cause of action, the spark, the fire; not the receiver waiting for something to happen to you. Having this mindset means greater success in acting on your intentions instead of staying static.


 

Here’s how to succeed this year:

Creating your resolutions

First, start off right. Before you make a concrete goal, get to the heart of your true objective, tease out the “why,” your motivation behind it. Reflect on the past year and decide what you can make happen differently.

Limit your resolutions so you aren’t spread too thin. Having several goals is great, but not when they compete for priority. A short list is easier to tackle, and when one goal is accomplished you can move forward to the next.


 

Sticking to your resolutions

Make choices that are consistent with your identity. “Whether you realize it or not, you make decisions based on staying true to your self-stories… You want to make decisions that match your idea of who you are,” explains Susan Weinschenk, PhD, a psychologist and author.

Set weekly or monthly reminders. Doing this is as easy as signing up for a recurring email prompt, or making a note on your wall or smartphone calendar.

Have visual cues. You may opt for obvious sticky notes or subtle well-placed postcard-sized images of things that relate to your resolution.

Share your resolutions. Verbalizing (or social media broadcasting) your resolutions to others increases your accountability. You are more likely to stay on course when others know your goals and might ask about your progress.

Ask for support when needed. Seeking and accepting help from those close to you may enable you to overcome challenges and deal with stress.

Display or showcase your successes. By highlighting the positives, you focus on what you can accomplish, which is motivating!


 

Dealing with setbacks

If you fall off course or realize it’s March before you’ve taken a step toward your goals, don’t worry. Treat setbacks like hiccups – expect them to occur, accept them, and then move on. Being resilient by bouncing back from difficulty allows you to get back on course. It’s never too late to change habits for the better.

Resources:

Psychology Today “The Science of Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-wise/201612/the-science-why-new-years-resolutions-dont-work

American Psychological Association “Making Your New Year’s Resolution Stick” http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resolution.aspx


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How to Calculate Body Fat Percentage & Lean Mass | Q+A

How to Calculate Body Fat Percentage & Lean Mass | Q+A

Question:

What’s the correct way of calculating body fat percentage and lean mass?

– Garima

Answer:

The previous gold standard for body composition analysis has been hydrostatic weighing. Short of a university research lab, you may have trouble locating such a dunk tank. A dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan is a higher tech method available in medical care settings, since they primarily use them for bone density status. A Bod Pod device provides reliable results, though it’s difficult to find one of these space-age egg-shaped chambers. In general, these methods basically use the difference in density of body tissues to determine how much of each you have. They also carry a price tag.

So what does that leave for you that’s readily available? Skinfold thickness testing using digital calipers may be an option if there is a trained individual performing the measurements with good equipment. It determines subcutaneous fat to predict overall body fat. The best simple, fast and inexpensive method is an electronic bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) scale with integrated upper body measurement. Such segmental devices get an overall picture by looking at hydration status of all 4 quadrants & torso of the body.  As if a step-on BIA scale and a hand held analyzer had an offspring. The small electrical signal passes through muscle and fat differently based on their water content.

You don’t have to calculate body fat % or lean mass as the above methods have equations built into the software. In the case of skinfold thickness with traditional calipers, the most accurate formula uses six or more body measurements whose sum is usually available in a table format for conversion into body fat.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Help! I’ve Hit A Weight Loss Plateau | Q+A

Help! I’ve Hit A Weight Loss Plateau | Q+A

Question:

I’m trying to lose weight. I have been going to the gym about 5 times a week for about 4 months. I feel like I’m getting stronger, I have more energy and generally feel better. I noticed that I haven’t lost any weight and figured I should check my diet. Can you point me in the right direction?

– Jesse

Answer:

Please see our recent answer regarding testosterone and diet by clicking here.

Besides sleep and hormones, energy levels may also be affected by stress, physical activity, and nutrition. Since you are regularly physically active let’s focus on stress and nutrition. Your surgeries may have significantly impacted your liveliness and stamina. Although you may have regained functional ability after each bout, the body’s recovery may be longer lasting.

Proper nutrition is a good defense against fatigue. Hydration is a key factor in feeling peppy as every cell in your body needs water! Adequate body fluids also ensure transport of nutrients and elimination of wastes/toxins. You burn calories constantly, not all at once so feed yourself the same way. To fuel body systems continuously you need balanced, spaced meals with fiber-rich complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats. A wimpy green salad may leave you flat while an overloaded lunch plate can set on an afternoon slump.

Particularly high-energy foods include oats & quinoa (fiber + unsaturated fat), chocolate & tea (caffeine), citrus (flavonoids), banana & barley (fructo-oligosaccharides), asparagus & wheat (inulin), and spinach (B-vitamins).

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Question:

I cannot lose fat despite exercising 4x a week which is cardio and lifting. I’m not sedentary either except at work sitting 8 hours. I overdose on veggies and eat very high fiber and lean. Hardly any bread/starch. I am 51, 6″2, somewhat muscular, but 225 lbs. I should be 210-215 as I was 5 years ago. I can’t get there.

– Gordon K.

Answer:

My guess is that perhaps your body is adapted to maintaining at your current intake and exercise level. Often after increasing activity, people experience a subtle increase in appetite which causes compensatory intake. In other words, calories consumed go up. Usually in healthy vegetable-based diets this could be in nuts/seeds, pesto, avocado, dressings, dried fruits or beverages. It only takes about 100 calories per day to forestall a weight loss of 10 lbs. in a year.

Try altering your workouts by increasing time, duration or intensity. To find hidden calories, I’d suggest tracking your intake for a few days and using dietary software with a comprehensive database for analysis. It might reveal where you have room to improve. Don’t forget that proper hydration and adequate sleep are also key to successful weight loss.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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