There is a great weight loss question today on Shape Magazine’s site: Q: I use an app to track my meals. How do I estimate calories for a restaurant meal or something someone else cooked?
Having used some really great weight loss apps myself, I thought I would share the answer plus my own findings here.
-According to the USDA, Americans now get 40% of their meals away from home. (A major factor in weight loss).
-There are a plethora of tools out there that can help you track what you eat. And while this may sound like work to you, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy they make it. For example, almost every food and restaurant dish is included in them, making it super easy and fast to enter most dishes.
Now, here’s some great weight management ideas from the Shape article:
1. Use a popular app, with a huge database, so that it’s easy for you to find and enter food.
2. Estimates are good enough. Don’t strive for perfection, it will drive you crazy.
3. Try to eat about 10% fewer calories when you eat out. Extra sauces and oils can easily skew the calories to the high side, packing on the weight.
When I first started using MyFitnessPal (which is the one I recommend, by the way) I was shocked at both the calories in a lot of foods I ate (more than I thought), and I was also surprised a just how much salt I was getting. As a matter of fact, it was during this time that I decided canned food was only appropriate for dogs.
The other great thing I learned was something alluded to earlier, and that is that almost everything I ate was already included in My Fitness Pal, or a user had submitted a good home-made version, making it really easy for me to use.
During this time, I was on assignment to help a 3,000 person group with weight loss and general wellness, and we all committed to using the tool of our choice, for at least 3 days per month. One of these participants bumped into me a year later, and 40 pounds lighter. I complimented him on his new lean look, and his response was fascinating to me. He said his weight loss came from only one lifestyle change. Every day he used an app to track his calories. This one new habit had been sufficient in motivating him to eat right, and eat a little less, resulting in 40 pounds weight loss a year later!
So my recommendation is that you get a well-respected weight loss app, and use it for at least 3 days a month. For me, 3 days is about all I can handle, I’m not a fan of tracking things meticulously, and it wears me out, but I also find that three days is enough to catch any problems in my diet that I may have developed out of habit, without realizing I had gotten off track.
One last point, and that is you must enter everything! Every candy, snack, and dessert goes in the app, no exceptions! As a matter of fact, most people are shocked at how often they find their hands reaching for something to put in their mouth throughout the day! You forget about all those candy dishes in offices, snacks people offer, and the random trips you make to the fridge. This “app tracking habit” can really open your eyes and provide meaningful, simple motivation for improvement, resulting in loss of pounds with very little effort on your part!