Losing weight essentially comes down to eating less calories than you burn. Keeping a food diary is a proven way to help you do this, but if not used correctly, you may not see the weight loss results you are hoping for.
Here are 6 crucial things you need to know to use Nutracheck successfully and achieve your weight loss goal.
1. Weigh food
Guessing at portion sizes is a sure fire way to consume more calories that you think. The only way to know exactly is to weigh food. It’s easy to pour out a bowl of cereal and think, ‘yeah that looks like a suitable portion’, but chances are it’s more than the recommended 30g or 40g serving. Breakfast cereals, pasta and rice – foods that we tend to pour freely – are notoriously easy to underestimate when it comes to portions. Don’t believe me, check out our blog on cereal killers here.
2. Log everything
It’s so important to be honest and add everything. Sadly there are no ‘free foods’ as some diets might have you think – all foods contain some calories. Fruit? Yes that counts. Veg? Yep, that too! And don’t forget liquid calories. 5 cups of tea with semi skimmed milk contains around 85 cals – over a week that adds up to 595 calories which needs to be counted. Then there’s the squeeze of ketchup, the butter on your sandwiches – log it all. And don’t forget the stuff you nibble without thinking – a few slivers of cheese while making dinner, the leftover chips from the kid’s dinner plates – am sure you’re getting the picture! Having to record what you eat makes you much more mindful (and selective!) about what passes your lips – which is why keeping a diary works. It takes no time at all to log food with the App – 10 minutes a day is all you need.
3. Be accurate
By ‘accurate’ we mean that you should ideally find the exact brand of food you ate. Here’s an example to show why.
Say you ate a slice of Lidl Rowan Hill Bakery Seeded Wholemeal Farmhouse Loaf, but just searched for ‘wholemeal bread’ and added a medium slice of unbranded wholemeal bread, you would have under counted by 49 calories. Multiply that by 4 – because you had 2 slices of toast at breakfast and 2 slices for your lunch – and you’ve under counted by nearly 200 calories! Do that with several foods, and your calorie count won’t be as accurate as it could be. It doesn’t take any long to enter the brand name when you search or scan a barcode – there are over 200,000 products in the database so you should find the exact item.
4. Choose the source of your calories carefully
It’s easy to just focus on calorie content – but the type of food you eat is, in many ways, just as important. Yes essentially a calorie is a calorie – whether it comes from broccoli or piece of chocolate, it provides the same amount of energy. But some foods provide more nutrients than others which affects how our body uses the energy. A diet rich in natural foods is definitely the way forward – so opt for plenty of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean protein, pulses, calcium rich dairy foods and good fats from things like nuts and oily fish. Eating these foods will help fill you up with all the nutrients you need to stay healthy, as well as keeping you feeling full and satisfied. While a slice of chocolate cake and sandwich might have the same number of calories – the sandwich will certainly keep you going longer!
5. Plan, plan, plan
They say is ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail!’. A top tip for success is to plan ahead and decide what you’re going to eat. That way you’ll know if you have any calories left to play with for an evening treat. Much better than getting to the end of the day, fancying something sweet and caving to temptation which takes you over your calorie target. This approach goes hand in hand with completing your diary in advance or as you go along, rather than waiting until the end of the day and trying to remember what you ate. Recording retrospectively makes it more likely you’ll forget the biscuit you had with your afternoon cuppa. In fact when asked to recall what they ate over a day, people typically under-estimate by around a third! As a keen food diary user, we’re sure you’ll have a much better idea, but you get our drift…
6. Don’t weigh-in every day
When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s tempting to weigh every morning to see how you’re doing, but it’s best to keep it to once a week (this might change when you get to maintenance). The reason being that your weight can fluctuate a lot across the week, so weighing yourself too often can be disheartening if your weight increases for no good reason one day. We recommend weighing in once a week, on the same day. same time and same scales for a better picture of how your long term weight loss is going. It avoids a temporary increase throwing you off course mentally.