Thursday, March 17, 2011

Want to Take Weight Off & Keep it Off? Start Logging.

You know you should do it but, let's be honest, it's a little tedious and sometimes time-consuming.  IT is logging your daily food intake.  Study after study shows that individuals who log their daily caloric intake are more successful at losing weight and subsequently maintaining it.  A study by the National Weight Control Registry indicated that people who are successful at keeping weight off for an extended period of time, an average of 66 pounds for five years, monitored their weight and food intake by keeping track of it.

I can personally attest to its effectiveness.  After a tour of small-market tv duty in Guam, followed by working ridiculous hours in Knoxville, I added more than 50 pounds to my once-slender frame.  Logging my daily caloric intake helped me drop 55 pounds in the late 90's and early Naughties and I've kept it off ever since.  (Any of you remember some of my early Cowboys TV days?)

There are a hundred ways to log your food intake.  I've done it off and on for years.  During my size 2 college years, I would write down my food and corresponding calorie intake in my DayRunner.   Currently, I log my daily workouts on my laptop and log my caloric intake online or via an app on my Ipad.

The Wall Street Journal tackles the monotonous task of doing just that and examines four calorie counting websites, 3 paid, 1 free.  It does a good job of looking into the variables of portion sizes and the thoroughness of each site's database.

My Fit Foods Atlantic Salmon: 430 cals
I haven't used any of the sites they recommend but I do have a personal favorite.  I use TheDailyPlate.com, which has been swallowed up by the Livestrong.com network.  I prefer the Daily Plate because it has an excellent database of foods, ranging from prepared food and fast foods to simple, homemade recipes.  I eat a lot of meals from My Fit Foods and it has a ton of those meals in there.  The cool thing is that if a recipe is not in its database, you can add it by building the ingredients list.

The Daily Plate also offers values for individual food products from apples and kale to Clif Bars and smoothies.  It has a "frequently used" meal function that allows you to add meals or foods that you eat a lot without searching for them.  Sometimes you simply have to estimate what you're eating, say the spice cake a colleague brings to work, but there are generally equivalents of anything you might eat.


It also allows you to log your daily workouts.  While the calorie expenditure might not be totally precise, it's a good way to gauge what you're burning.

I use the free website and have downloaded the app on my Ipad.  It cost me $4.99 and, in my opinion, was money well spent.  The Ipad app is easy to use and is constantly being updated with new foods added to the database.

Morale of the story: logging food intake is a proven method for weight loss success and maintenance and there are a ton of ways to make it painlessly easy.
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