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Wellness Wednesday: Easy Ways to Track What We Eat

Raise your hand if your eyes are bigger than your stomach when you see food. I'll be honest: mine is in the air.

Every day we are assaulted by advertisements that tells us we're hungry. Not in front of a TV or listening to the radio? Heck, Burger King pumps out what looks to be a forest fire worth of smoke that infiltrates your car as you wait at the stop light. How can you not think about a juicy, flame-grilled burger?

Food is one of the most powerful things in the world that affects both our body and mind. People eat because they are happy and they also eat because they are sad. Many people I know eat because they are bored. Think about how many food and snack commercials are on television or radio late at night.   

Many of us gain several pounds per year and it goes unnoticed until you get on the scale at the doctor's office for a checkup. We have moved so far away from being able to tell what is the right amount of food (fuel) for our daily activities. Some of us obsess about our weight daily and step on a scale to measure every morning. If we are measuring ourselves, then why are we not measuring our food intake?

Beyond reading and understanding a food label, one of the most important things we can do is to understand how much and how many calories we are ACTUALLY taking in. Then when we have a count, we can use our nutritional intake to help plan our fat loss or lean body mass gain. Changing our body composition is as much math as it is science. In the next few articles, I will try to help you set basic goals for body recomposition.

First, we need to know what you are actually taking in and how much your body needs. I suggest using a food log application on your phone such as MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, or Fitday. These apps are easy to use - all you have to do is put in how much of the food you eat - and include pretty much anything out there from fast food to food from other countries. They will track not only calories, but macronutrients such as protein, fat and carbohydrates along with micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Some can even scan UPC codes on the foods you eat so the item name doesn't have to be typed in and searched for in the database.

Once you've logged food for a day, let's also compare it to what you actually need. We can find this on a Basal Metabolic Rate calculator such as the one here. Just plug in numbers and then use the Harris-Benedict Equation to add your daily activity level. Undereating can lower your metabolism while putting the body into a state of stress which is not good for fat loss. Overeating too much of anything can add weight to our body.  

So, how close are you to what you've been consuming?

I don't want you to track forever but if you never have, you'll never know!

I'll be back next time with ratios of macronutrients that are conducive for gaining muscle or using up extra fat stores. Remember, fat is nothing but stored potential energy!

- Joe Daniels is the owner of SwingThis Kettlebell and Strength Studio in Latonia. Questions for Joe? E-mail him at [email protected].

Bored with bodybuilding after reaching the national level in 2009, Joe Daniels opened SwingThis Kettlebell and Strength. From becoming an IKFF Coach operating in an 800 sq. ft. studio, the benefits of a minimal yet highly effective approach to fitness has grown to a 5,500 sq. ft. functional training facility within four years. 

Focusing on injury prevention, competitive kettlebell sport training and stress relief, SwingThis Kettlebell and Strength has hosted seminars and trained hands-on with some of the top athletes and coaches of the kettlebell world. Their philosophy has remained the same: You have to enjoy your training at all stages. Live your life. Your training should make your life outside that time more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Photo: Screenshot of food log app (provided)