Earlier in February, I blogged about the impact of logging meals and exercise on the success of weight loss efforts. At the time, I noted that this is an effective tool for many. Especially if you are using an app designed for this, it can help more accurately determine calories in food being consumed, how many calories are burned during exercise, and bring discipline (think avoid snacking because it is too much trouble to log a Hershey Kiss–26 calories!). Knowledge is power, and that power can lead to greater success in keeping healthier and fit.
I discovered another benefit. Now that I am more aware of how many calories are in certain foods, my grocery shopping and meal planning have changed. I am spending more time in the produce section and less time picking up processed foods. Fish is a great choice as it is low in calories (unless it is slathered in sauce) and has many health benefits. Vegetables are low in calories and can be filling and add color to the plate. Some foods (Thomas’ Whole Grain English Muffins and Dave’s Killer Breads) are not the evil carb monsters we believe them to be. This is not to say that I do not enjoy the occasional cookie or ice cream, but it is more in the context of an overall plan of eating healthier.
Usually when I am trying to lose weight, I find myself hungry quite a bit of the time. Logging has now given me the tools to plan meals that will be filling and still lower in calories. It is working. I am fueling my body in a more appropriate way rather than giving in to cravings (which seem less frequent now). Most importantly, I have lost 10 pounds in 4 weeks. I have been really disciplined and have managed to take off my COVID weight. Just a few more pounds to go and I will be at the ideal weight for my height. I feel great, my clothes are no longer tight, and I like what I see when I look in the mirror. Logging is a bit of a pain but it has paid off.
You know what they say: no pain, no gain. In this case: no logging, no losing. It does not work for everyone, but it sure seems to be giving me success.
It’s science. The way that we lose weight is by burning more calories through activity than we consume through eating.
A pound of fat is 3500 calories. In order to lose that pound, a person would have to either eat that many fewer calories or increase activity by that many calories or a combination of both. It seems fairly straightforward but many people still struggle with losing those pounds.
In many cases the problem has to do with misperceptions about how much exercise we are doing and how much we are eating. There are many apps that help with this. These fitness apps will calculate how many calories are burned in a 20-minute moderate stationary bicycle ride or 10 laps in the pool; they will also know how many calories are in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (adjustable for the kind of bread, the type of jelly, and the amount of peanut butter) or a stalk of celery. This takes the guesswork out of it all…but it is time-consuming and tedious.
Those who are serious about getting to a healthier weight would be wise to put in that extra effort. Many times we think a snack is just a few calories when it could be well over 200. Other times we think a walk must burn 300 calories when maybe it only burned 100. The more committed a person is to tracking the meals and logging them, the greater the chances of successes. A number of factors impact this. 1. The figures are more accurate using this method; the guesswork is taken out if an app is used. 2. We become more educated about what we are eating and just how healthy or indulgent it might be. 3. We become more educated about how effective our workout/activities are in burning calories. 4. The idea of having to log every meal and snack can also serve as a kind of regulator; in other words, we might think to ourselves: “I could eat that cookie, but then I’d have to log it on the app. Too much trouble. I’ll just wait for dinner….”
Not everyone has this experience, but I have found that the most effective way for me to regulate my weight is to log every meal, every snack, and every workout. Of course, from the beginning one has to know the right number of calories allotted each day or logging makes little sense. Talk to a health or diet professional to know those numbers and plan accordingly.
In my May 2, 2019 post about metabolism, I shared an article by registered dietitian Samantha Cassety. Among the many points she made about how our foods are used as energy, was an explanation about the difference between a diet made up of more processed foods versus more unprocessed. Bottom line: your body has to expend more energy (calories) to absorb unprocessed food, ie, to “process” it; processed foods are much more easily absorbed and burn less calories.
An article out a few weeks ago on http://www.cell.com, reiterated this point and brought a recent study to prove it. Here is the link: https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(19)30248-7 . Not only does Cassety’s explanation hold up, this article goes further to say that generally speaking those who eat processed foods are more likely to overeat than those who eat unprocessed foods. The methodology of the exam is very interesting; one group had no choice but to eat either highly processed foods and the other to eat unprocessed foods. The results were unmistakable. Eating highly processed foods contributes to weight gain.
What do we learn? There is a price to pay for the convenience of prepared foods. The deeper question: is that price worth it?
Thanks to my colleagues at the Mandel JCC, Brandon Colon and Jeff Yannarell, for sharing this article.