Read posts from just some of the people behind Nutracheck. About all things topical and trending in the world of calorie counting, weight loss and weight maintenance.
Hi I’m Emma, Nutracheck’s Nutritionist.
Members have been asking us to track more nutrients – so we have! Nutracheck now tracks carbs, sugar, protein, saturated fat and salt – as well as calories and fat.
Whilst it’s great to get more insight, it can be difficult to know exactly how much of each nutrient you should be eating.
So we’ve added nutrient guides to help. Our standard Well Balanced guide sets targets for a healthy diet – this is what your diary is set for.
We believe it’s important to eat foods from all food groups – we don’t recommend excluding things.
But if there’s a particular nutrient you’d like to focus on and eat less or more of, we have 4 nutrient guides to help – Less Sugar, Lower Carb, Lower Fat and Higher Protein.
My previous blog was a joint effort with Sprog, in which we talked about recent weight wobbles where our weights had increased, and how we had not been able to get back down to weights we were happy with. My own story following that was that I did manage to lose significant weight, and just at the moment I am going through quite a low-weight period in my maintenance. Make no mistake – maintenance can be a roller-coaster ride!
I think that, for me, a big maintenance difficulty is that it’s difficult to find something to focus on. Losing weight is exciting – there is always a lower weight to aim for, and when you get there, there’s a real sense of achievement and it’s a time for celebration. And then there’s another weight to aim for! With maintenance, there are no new targets – it’s just carry on staying the same. As our resident Nutritionist Emma Clarke says “it’s simply not an exciting business when compared to losing weight”.
Thanks to everyone who completed our recent survey asking about the extra nutrient tracking we’ve added to the service. From your feedback, it is clear it has raised a few questions – especially around some of the targets and what this means for you.
So I’ve addressed below the top 3 questions that have come up.
In short – no. Sugar is a tricky nutrient to track because there is no way to distinguish between added sugars and those naturally occurring in things like fruit and milk. This is because current UK labelling laws don’t require manufacturers to split out these types of sugars in the nutrition panel. But eating sugars from natural sources is not the same as eating lots of added sugars.
At present, the official guideline for sugar intake is only for added sugars – to reduce these from 10% of our total energy, to 5%.
Part of the obesity crisis can be blamed on overinflated portion sizes. And for many of us, this starts early in the day when we open the cereal box and start to pour.
Breakfast cereals feature in around 60% of breakfasts – but a lot of us are simply eating far too much.
The serving sizes on cereal packets seem to resemble fantasy more than truth. On average, the recommended portion is 40g – yet when you tip this amount into a bowl, it can look a bit sparse.
Emma Clarke MSc, nutritionist for weight loss App, Nutracheck, is not surprised by the findings.
“We tried a little experiment asking people to pour a 40g portion of 3 popular breakfast cereals. Pretty much everyone served themselves way too much:
“We eat with our eyes, relying on visual cues – people pay more attention to the proportion of the bowl filled rather than the actual amount of cereal in it.
“The habit of using a visual clue for eating, rather than being conscious of satiety – how full you feel – is a tough one to break. The simplest solution is to swap to a smaller bowl and always weigh out your cereal.
“Breakfast gives the body fuel after an overnight fast – skip breakfast and you’re effectively running on empty. You’re far more likely to reach for high sugar mid-morning snacks, so a bowl of cereal can be a good start to your day – just be aware of how much you’re eating, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.”
You can track up to 6 nutrients in your diary on the website – and this handy bar chart on the right gives you a summary at a glance on how you’re doing.
The bars change colour when you exceed the guide amount.
Salt and saturated fat immediately turn red as a warning to keep a close eye on these.
If you go over on carbs and protein, the bar turns amber – it’s not a major health concern to go slightly over on these nutrients, but it’s helpful to try and stick around the guide amount to maintain a healthy balance in your diet.
If you exceed the sugar guide, the bar will turn amber to flag up that you should check your diary to see which foods the sugar is coming from. If it’s from natural sugars in fruit and milk products, that’s okay. If it is from foods with added sugars, try to limit these.
Hover over the bars to see how many grams you’ve eaten. In the App, tap on each bar.
Or you might be more interested in the overall proportion of nutrients in your diet, how many calories are coming from the 3 main food groups – you can view a pie chart. It shows the guide amount and how you are tracking against it.
Or if you liked things the way they were, you still have the simple calories and fat bar chart.
Switch between the charts by clicking on the icons. The same applies for your Week View, get a 7 day picture of your diet. There are lots of reports on the website to help you – see your top 20 highest sugar or salt foods.
In the App, tap on the icon top right. The standard chart shows all nutrients – just tap top right to see your pie chart.
It is not currently a requirement for UK food products to include fibre in the nutritional breakdown on the pack. Some products show fibre, but many do not. As we use food labels as our data source, until this changes, Nutracheck doesn’t track fibre.
Q. How much fibre do we need?
A. 30g a day
Most adults only manage around 12g per day.
The 10th March is ‘Pack Your Lunch Day’ – which we think is a great idea! Preparing your own lunch can save you a load of money and calories – so it’s definitely worth putting in a little extra time and effort.
To recognise the day this year, I was nominated to share what’s in my lunch box! So here’s a typical working day for me…
200g vegetable crudités, 1 light Babybel, 25g pistachios.
(16.4g fat, 3.5g sat fat, 13.7g carbs, 10.8g sugar, 11.7g protein and 0.48g salt)