Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Food Logging - Is It Worth the Effort?

photo credit: Eric Rice via photopin cc
Seriously. Doing food logs is a drag. It's laborious, tedious, boring. Not to mention you keep forgetting to do it. Then you've got three or four days worth of meals to log to get caught up and it's completely overwhelming. What's the point anyway? You know what you're eating, right? Maybe not.

Are you working out regularly? Do you think you're eating right, but can't seem to lose weight? You need to log your food. I'm not saying you need to log everything you eat or drink for the rest of your life. All you need is a good solid week's worth periodically. However, you may find it sort of addictive and find yourself logging for several weeks at a time. Here's why...

What will food logging do for you? It gives you a wealth of information that you can use to reach your goals. It tells you how many calories you're eating and calories do matter. It also matters what those calories are made of. How much fat are you eating? How much sodium is in your diet? How much sugar? If you have this information  it can help you make dietary adjustments that will get you results.

When I talk about keeping food logs I'm not talking about pen and paper, although that is certainly an option. I'm talking about using one of the many online sites that offer this service for free. Specifically, the one I have in mind is myfitnesspal. I've found it easy to use. It's got a good database of foods and lots of great features that make it a really comprehensive site for food and exercise logging too.

You've probably heard it said that weight loss is 20% exercise and 80% diet. Maybe you've heard the expression, "Abs are made in the kitchen"? How about, "You can't outrun your fork."?

The idea is not that exercise isn't important. It's just that diet has a lot of power and people often think that they can exercise their bad diet choices away. It's very easy to eat back the calories you burn in a typical workout. While it feels like you're putting the most effort into your workouts, it's your diet that requires the most time, focus and planning.

It's true that we are hard wired to enjoy food. That fact is part of what keeps us alive. So, all this regulating, counting, planning, calculating and logging might seem counter intuitive. It seems like we should simply be able to listen to our bodies and know what to eat, when and how much. The trouble is that all our triggers have gotten mixed up in a world of over abundant cues to eat... not to mention what the food industry has done to our food to cause confusion in our bodies systems that regulate hunger and satiety (if you'd like to know more on that, this is a great book on the subject, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite).

So, as un-fun and unnatural as it may seem, food logging can be an incredibly helpful and sometimes necessary tool in losing weight as well as maintaining a healthy weight.

Enjoyed this post? Sign up for updates (it's free!).

No comments:

Post a Comment