I have been tracking my caloric intake and physical activity for about 4 months now, because I am actively trying to loose a little weight I put on when I started sitting at a desk 40 hours a week. I use the "MyPlate" tool on Livestrong.com.
This is a healthy living website brought to you by the foundation of Lance Armstrong. Basically, the MyPlate tool is an online food and exercise journal, you enter everything you eat, and the amount of physical activity you do, and it shows you your overall caloric intake (minus calories burned). It also shows your intake of basic nutrients like sugar, protein, and fiber versus the recommended daily allowance (from the FDA). It is free to use, but they only keep your journal for something like 40 days, than it is cleared. You can pay for a higher level membership, and they will keep your journal forever and you get more features, but for me, just seeing the calories add up daily is really useful.
I love the MyPlate feature because you can search for specific foods from specific brands or restaurants. I mean, they have everything! My Toufayan whole wheat pita, and Sabra classic hummus? Yep, they have the nutritional info, confirmed from the manufacturer. They have the nutritional content of many dishes from small and large chain restaurants (like Chipotle, Noodles & CO., Pei Wei, etc.) as well as the info for basic foods like fresh fruits and veggies. You can also add in your own recipes and get the nutritional analysis for them, it's pretty amazing.
I have always considered myself a pretty healthy eater, I don't eat fast food, or fried food, I rarely drink soda, and I almost always eat whole foods, rather than pre-made packaged stuff. Still, I was surprised at how quickly the calories add up in the day, and especially shocked at how hard it is for me to keep my sugar intake under the RDA. Seeing my calories add up using this tool has helped me "just say no" to unnecessary snacks, bites, and tastes, because it is just not worth the extra calories. So far, using this tool, and being more active (hello YTTP doing yoga 20 hrs a week!) I have lost about 5 lbs of solid fat (not including water weight fluctuations) in 2 months, but more importantly, I have lost inches. I can fit into pants that wouldn't even button back in February!! That is freaking satisfying!
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