Felicia Newell, RD, MSc
Are you underestimating how much you're eating? (Hint: many people do!)
Many people struggle with either not losing weight or even gaining weight even though they are tracking their calories.
There could be many reasons for this, but one of the most common is under-reporting. There is a ton of research that suggests the average person consumes 50 percent more calories than they think they do.
One study had more than 4,000 people track what they are for four days. Men reported consuming an average 2,065 calories a day, but were estimated to actually consume 3,119; while women reported 1,570 but actually consumed 2,393.
There are also differences between processed versus whole foods - whole foods burn more calories to digest. Combined with the fact that food labels can be 10-20% off the actual calorie amount.
Does this mean tracking is useless?
No. It just means if it's not working for you you may have to switch something up and/or try to get a little better at estimating your portion sizes.
Why focus on calories?
Because it is what our body uses to live! when we digest food, we break it down and convert the calories from food into energy to perform the trillions of chemical reactions happening at any given second to keep us alive. #life
In a very basic nutshell, we store fat when we consume more calories than what our body naturally needs, and we lose fat when we consume less than what our body needs. But we need that fuel! A two year old needs 1200 calories daily. Most adults needs at least 1500 calories daily and often more (with higher activity, for taller peeps, and really active peeps/athletes).
Is tracking something you need to do for life or long-term?
No, unless you want to. I use it as a helpful short-term strategy to help with accountability, help people learn what is in their food, develop an eating pattern that fits their lifestyle, and it's also useful for me to review as a health professional to make sure a person is getting enough nutrients (fibre, protein, etc.) and give suggestions.
Is tracking for everyone?
No. Some people get hyper focused on the numbers and stressed with tracking (which I don't recommend, tracking can be very flexible versus what people think it should be), or they just aren't etch savvy. With these people we focus on portion sizes and keeping a written food journal if possible.
Why focus on weight loss?
The nature of my work is that 80-90% of my clients want to lose weight so I want to help them reach their goal but learn a healthy relationship with food along the way. That's why I like tracking as a short term strategy, because you learn how to balance it all out and fit in that slice of pizza or birthday celebration or whatever that is and then take that with you long-term (even after you stop tracking).
Have questions or concerns? Don't hesitate to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org