If it doesn’t get measured it doesn’t get managed. Last week I wrote about measuring yourself to see where you stand and to check your progress. Today I am talking about measuring your food in order to manage your intake. I have always loved healthy food. Huge fan of vegetables, fruits, vegetables, whole grain this and whole grain that. I wondered why I could never lose weight; after all I was eating the right foods wasn’t I? In addition I ate a cupcake or a pint of ice cream now and again, surely it didn’t matter because I ate so healthy all the time? Well I was wrong for several reasons and it showed by my lack of progress or lack of weight loss.
Let’s get back to the basics shall we? In order to lose weight you have to have
a caloric deficit. The recommended caloric intake for men is 2500 calories per
day; the recommended caloric intake for women is 2000 calories per day. This
varies based on your level of activity or how sedentary your lifestyle is. With that in mind in order for you to lose weight you need to consume less than 2000 calories (for women). In order to lose 1 pound there has to be a caloric deficit of 3500 calories. If for example a woman wanted to lose 1 pound per week (7 days) she would need a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day and consume 1500 calories per day. This calculation does not take into account any physical activity which would increase her caloric demands accordingly. However keep in mind that walking for 30 minutes only burns about 200 calories for an average size woman so if you walked that day, you caloric intake would only need to be about 1700 calories.
With all that in mind let’s talk about the need to measure your food. If you recognize that weight loss is simply a matter of
caloric deficit, shouldn’t you then be aware of exactly how much you are eating? This is where the importance of measuring your food comes into play. When embarking on your weight loss journey, some tools you will need to ensure your success are measuring cups, a food scale and measuring spoons. My favorite example is how people typically serve rice. Most people will use a serving spoon and pile 2 or 3 serving spoonfuls onto their plate. The problem is by the time you do this you probably have 2 cups of rice on your plate. One cup of rice is about 225 calories therefore you have 450 calories in rice. This is before you have factored in the meat or sauce. Most times people’s dinner is 1000 calories and they are not even aware of it. Never mind what they would have eaten for breakfast, lunch or snacks. Still on the rice example, you need to realize that a reasonable serving of brown rice is ½ a cup. A mere 115 calories, this gives you room for a lean protein (4-6 oz is the appropriate serving) and 2 cups of steamed vegetables which can add up about to 350 calories. This composition will leave you full and provide a balance of nutrients which when followed closely is optimal for weight loss.
Measuring your food is even more important if you are following a well-designed meal plan. It is important that you stick to the recommended quantities because eating extra here and there can add up and be a hindrance to weight loss. There can be the temptation to eye ball a serving and decide that it looks approximately right. This too can be detrimental because you can end up with more food than what is designed for your meal plan which over time can hinder weight loss and in some cases lead to weight gain.
This brings us back to our initial saying, if it doesn’t get measured, it doesn’t get managed. If you do not measure your food and remain within a certain caloric range, it will be very difficult to manage your weight loss. Get in the habit of checking labels for the appropriate serving sizes. Record what you eat on a daily basis to help track what you are eating. This will help you become more mindful of what you are eating and help you make wiser food choices.
Do you have a measuring cups and spoons at home? What foods do you eat regularly that you need to start measuring?