Friday, January 22, 2016

Food Logging, a Tool for Success!

One of the key tools in weight loss, in my opinion, is logging and tracking food.  How am I going to know if I'm burning off calories needed to lose weight, if I don't know how many are going in?!  I have tried a couple different apps and ways to log consumption. Ladies and Gentlemen, my first review!

As you know there are many, many different ways to log food these days, for the most part these are free or very inexpensive.  I thought that was a key factor in a good logging tool, as well as clear breakdown for meals/times of the day so I know when I'm eating what, and the approximate calories for what I'm eating.  I broke it down to my top three, in order from BEST to not great but still works here they are.

MyFitnessPal - This is the app I currently use, and the best tool in my opinion, here's why
  • It's FREE, and can be accessed from my computer or phone.
  • Easily accessible, the app is right on my phone so it's everywhere with me.
  • Calories managed for me, the huge database adds calories for me as well as a product barcode scanner.  So if I am in a hurry I can just quick scan the barcode with my phone and it logs it.
  • Recipe builder/importer.  This is one of the coolest features, if you are making a recipe from online, you can import the ingredient and measures and match it with items from their database, you can also enter substitutions while cooking so the calories are more accurate!
  • Reports, this tracks your weight as you enter it and you can look at graphs to see the changes in weight, calorie intake, and a couple other measures as well.
  • Forums, a huge support system with lots of FAQs and tips for making lifestyle changes.  I've made some great online friends who help keep me on track and motivate me.
  • Exercise Log - You can also log your exercise and sync devices like Fitbit, Jawbone Up, Garmin, Nike+ and more!

Lose It! - This was a close second to MyFitnessPal, it has everything above and few more things, however, some of the features/functions you need to be a premium member for. It's not necessary for the basic use as a food log so its still a great free app.
  • Badges - virtual badges are awarded for milestones along your journey.  These can be good motivators along the way.  There are some "Premium Members Only" badges though, but again there are plenty of free badges to push you on your journey as well.
  • Challenges - these are awesome, other users can make challenges and you can join in. "Workout 5 days a week for 12 weeks" every time you log a workout it logs it in your challenges too.  Kind of a fun way to push yourself and set short term goals for long term gains.

Logging Journal/Paper and Pen - Not tech savvy?  This is an option for you.  Toting around a pen and paper, or a food log journal is an option.  There are plenty of small sizes and they are very inexpensive for a basic notebook.  There are quite a few drawbacks though...
  • No food database so you'll have to look up calories for items like a banana.
  • No quick scanning of a barcode, both of the apps above track more nutrients that just calories.
  • No network/community to help push you to stay on track.
  • No recipe builder or meal saves for ease of logging
I hope this helps you choose a method to log your food intake.  Even if it's different from the ones above, do what you need to stay on track.  Why am I putting so much emphasis on logging?  It's accountability!  If you have to write down what you are putting in your mouth, it makes it real.  You won't want to log that double chocolate cake, so don't eat it!  Yesterday I did have a small piece, and I logged it, and it was like wow I just maxed my sugar consumption for the day and have less calories for later.  With that said, it's ok to eat the cake, you just have to adjust either what you eat the rest of the day or you'll have to work off the extra calories you just ate.  Again, the reason for logging is to know calories in so you know how many calories to burn to make that deficit to lose weight.  Slow and sustainable, marathon not a sprint, lifestyle not a diet.  I hope you found this helpful and find a way to food log and stay accountable.

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