Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fix Your Food - Part 1

Proper nutrition will make all the difference between reaching your goals or falling short. You work hard in the kitchen, and even harder in the gym. Yet while we think we're on the right track, there may be little hidden things holding you back.

For this first installment of Fix Your Food, we'll examine two common mistakes that could be stopping (or even reversing) your progress.

2 Common Mistakes You're Probably Making in the Kitchen

1) Consuming too many calories

You know what a calorie is, and you have a basic idea of how many you're eating. Maybe. If you had to guess, you're probably eating around 2000 a day? Maybe more...maybe...okay nevermind. The truth is, it's really difficult to accurately guess calorie intake - especially if you've never done it before. I find that most people underestimate how much food they're actually eating - especially when you consider that most of our food is loaded with calories and other junk. A small burger from your favorite fast-food place is easily around 500 calories. Combine a drink and fries? There's your total recommended intake for the day.

If you're not currently tracking your food - go to myfitnesspal.com or a similar online tracking website, create an account, and start logging your food. You'll be surprised at how many calories you're consuming in a given day.

2) Consuming too many calories - Part 2

This tip goes to the people who ARE currently tracking their food. I'm willing to bet you're still underestimating portion sizes! I made this mistake for the longest time - and I've only recently begun to realize how much of a difference it actually makes.

Think about the last meal you logged. Now, how much of that food did you weigh yourself? How much of that food was pre-programmed into the calorie counter? Chances are, you're wrong and don't even know it. Here's an example of a recent breakfast I had. Basically, it was a homemade breakfast burrito. Three of them, to be exact. I estimated and logged the food, but then I went back and really measured it with a food scale and I was shocked. See the differences:

For my breakfast I used and estimated:

- A small portion of sausage (smaller than my palm - I estimated 2.5 oz) = 213 calories; 14g protein
- 3 scrambled eggs (whole egg - I like my yolk) - estimated at 210 calories; 18g protein
- a couple of spoonfulls of a corn / black bean / tomato / green pepper mix (I keep on hand and I ignore these calories)
- 3 small tortillas (fajita sized) - serving size says 35g at 90 calories each = 180 calories

So based on my off-the-cuff estimations and using myfitnesspal, I came up with a total of about 600 calories and 35-40g of protein. Keep in mind, this was my estimation, with a quick verification by myfitnesspal.

Upon re-measuring the food with a scale and more precise counts (still using myfitnesspal), I came up with:

- 3.4 oz sausage using my preferred brand = 289 calories; 19g protein
- 3 scrambled eggs (whole egg) 184g = 304 calories; 20g protein
- 135g of tortillas (they were 10g heavier than the package said) = 333 calories; 7g protein

Which added up to 926 calories and 46g protein. A whopping 326 calories MORE than I had originally estimated!

Now assuming I had made that same 300 calorie mistake for every meal of every day in the week. This equates to about 21 meals per week...and adds up to... 6300 calories per week!

Bolditalicized, and underlined because that is a HUGE difference. This equals about 2 pounds of body fat PER WEEK that I could have potentially been losing.

The holy grail of calorie counting

The Take-Home Message

Based on my recent experience, I must recommend that everyone find yourselves a food scale and begin to accurately weigh your food - compare it to the calorie counter - and make sure you're not overeating like I was!

I got a cheap food scale from Wal-mart at a little less than $20. Make sure you get one with a "tare" feature, so you can weigh the food in a bowl - this makes it much more convenient for cooking and eating purposes.

Also as a quick note, all food is typically measured before it's cooked. So for example, three ounces of chicken is measured while it's raw, then cooked. It gets smaller when cooked, but we still consider it "3oz of chicken."

As always, let me know if you have any questions! Feel free to discuss this topic in the comments section on facebook.

All the best,
Jeremy Bushong

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic information! I have been using myfitnesspal for a few weeks now, and I have lost weight, but I am guessing all the time, especially meat. We will be getting a scale soon. Thanks Jeremy!