So a couple weeks ago I did a little check-in with myself. I tracked my food intake for a couple weeks as best as I could. I hit up the MyFitnessPal app and attempted to log everything from my first cup of coffee in the morning to my daily four eggs and two slices of bacon for lunch all the way to my last beer at night. Granted I may have missed a beer here and then, but I think I was pretty spot on with my tracking.
If you have had conversations with me in the past you probably know I am not a big fan of calorie counting. What I am really not a big fan of is calorie counting on a day to day basis for weeks or months on end with the goal of trying to lose weight. But I do believe every now and then we need a little check in once or maybe a couple times a year to see where we are at especially if we are struggling with weight loss. Even if you are not trying to lose weight it’s not a bad thing to do now and then to see what your numbers really look like. This was my case. Not trying to lose weight. Not trying to gain weight. Just trying to get an idea of where my numbers are at in case there does come a time when I need to do either. So I tracked my intake for a few weeks, missing a few days here and there, but ended up getting twelve days in which included a few weekend days.
Going in the first number I needed to get was my bodyweight which was 172 pounds. 172 pounds is right around where I like to be give or take a few pounds. So being at 172 pounds and trying to maintain my weight I need to be around 2400 calories a day on average. Where did that 2400 calorie number come from? Here’s how I got to that number and how I would get to other numbers if I needed to lose or gain weight. These are just general numbers I’ve used in the past, but general numbers that have worked:
- Maintain weight: bodyweight x 14 for males; bodyweight x12 for females
- Lose weight: bodyweight x 12 for males; bodyweight x 10 for females
- Gain weight: bodyweight x 16 for males; bodyweight x 14 for females
Again, if I’m trying to maintain my weight I need to be around 2408 calories a day on average (172 x 14). If I’m going into a fat loss phase I need to be around 2064 calories a day on average (172 x 12). And if for some reason I’m trying to put on weight I need to be around 2752 calories a day on average (172 x 14).
So going in I knew my bodyweight, which was 172 pounds. I assumed my caloric intake averaged out to about 2300-2500 calories a day since my weight has been pretty stable over the last couple of months. I thought I probably consume around 160-180 grams of protein a day since I base most of my meals and snacks around a protein source. I thought I would be towards the lower end of the carb scale, around 100 grams a day, since I really do not eat a lot of wheat products or processed food. And all the rest was my fat and alcohol intake. Without doing any math I assumed my protein intake to be around 40 percent of my calories, my carb intake to be around 30%, my fat intake to be around 30% and alcohol would fill in that missing gap.
After 12 days of tracking here are what my numbers looked like:
- Averaged 2508 calories a day
- Highest daily caloric intake was 3772 calories (Sunday Funday got away a bit)
- Lowest Daily Caloric intake was 1990 calories (Tuesday)
- Averaged 166 grams of carbs a day (667 calories a day from carbs)
- 27% of my daily calories came from carbs
- Highest daily carb intake was 336 grams of carbs (Sunday Funday)
- Lowest daily carb intake was 86 grams (Tuesday)
- Averaged 175 grams of protein a day (700 calories a day from protein)
- 28% of my daily calories came from protein
- Highest daily protein intake was 219 grams of protein (Tuesday)
- Lowest daily protein intake was 138 grams of protein (Friday)
- Averaged 114 grams of fat a day (1030 calories a day from fat)
- 41% of my daily calories came from fat
- Highest daily fat intake was 167 grams of fat (Friday)
- Lowest daily fat intake was 83 grams of fat (Tuesday)
- On average over the course of those 12 days 4% of my daily calories came from alcohol.
So there are the numbers. I really was not shocked by any of the numbers, but tracking those numbers did give me some insight to my current nutrition, some changes I may need to make and some ideas about the process of food tracking.
- As I said earlier on in order to maintain my current bodyweight I need to average about 2400-2500 calories a day. Over the 12 day tracking period I averaged 2508 calories a day so I was pretty much where I wanted to be which was supported by my scale weight really not changing.
- I base most of my meals and snacks around protein and aim for a daily intake of about one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight which would be between 170-175 grams a day. I averaged 175 grams of protein a day so again I was on track with that.
- As far as carb intake goes my daily carb intake wasn’t really as low as I thought it was. Considering I do not really eat much wheat or processed food I always thought I was around 100g of carbs per day which would be considered a “lower” carb diet. Under 50 grams would be considered a “low” carb diet. But I was around one gram of carbs per pound of bodyweight which is a good target number for an active individual who is trying to maintain their current weight.
- My fat intake was a bit higher than I wanted it to be. I would rather have it around 30% of my daily caloric intake rather than 40%. I really do not eat a lot of added fats. Most of my fat intake comes from my protein sources and from the full fat dairy products such as greek yogurt and cottage cheese, both of which I eat pretty often. On the other hand I also really do not eat enough fruits and vegetables and enjoy peanut butter a little too much. Ok, maybe I enjoy peanut butter way too much. I bet if I worked on increasing my fruit and vegetable intake and dropped my peanut butter intake I could get that fat percentage number closer to 30%.
- My best nutritional days came early in the week. My worst days came at the end of the week. Only seems natural since I do a better job of preparing early in the week and like to loosen up my belt buckle a bit at the end of the week.
- Holy shit….calorie counting and food tracking can be maddening. It took me about three weeks to log 12 days. There’s no way I could do this on a daily basis for weeks on end. I know it’s become easier with all these cool apps such as MyFitnessPal, but still. As I said earlier I think it’s good to check in on every now and then, but doing it anymore than that for me is not going to work. If it works for you all the power to you.
- Not only is calorie calorie maddening, calorie counting is inaccurate. Different apps have different numbers for the same size portions which make numbers inaccurate. Guessing what size portion you are eating is inaccurate. Was it a small apple, a medium apple or a large apple? Cooking food one way or another is going to change the calorie content of certain foods again making the calorie counting process inaccurate. Go to a restaurant and depending on how the chef feels that night the calorie content listed on the menu could be no where near the calorie content of what is on your plate adding in more inaccuracy. Add up all these inaccuracies and you could have a giant inaccuracy at the end of the day. You could be anywhere from 200-1000 calories off. Oh yeah, and if you had too many beers to drink you probably forgot how many beers your drank so that number is way off.
- I would say the plus to calorie counting is the built in accountability it takes. If you’re being truly honest with yourself you can see how well or how poor you really are eating. It can be eye opening or in some cases eye popping. Some people do not even need to take a look at the numbers. All they need to take a look at is the foods they woofed down by the end of the day. You do not need numbers to tell you that a bowl of cereal, an extra large flavored iced coffee, a few slices of pizza for lunch and a bowl of ice cream at night is not going to get you towards your fat loss goals.
So there you have it. A look in at my boring ass nutrition. Maybe not much to be found there for you, but a few things I found out about myself. Now it’s your turn.