Keeping A Food Journal
I’ve made attempts before at keeping track of what I eat and although it seems like a simple task, it always goes by the wayside a few meals later. I’ve been fairly successful ballpark guessing my daily protein intake, but never *everything* I eat. I’m about a week into doing it on an app that does all the adding and computing for you and I think I’ve learned a few things.
First, my ballpark figures on how much protein I tend to consume in a day is pretty accurate, usually a shade north of 200 grams a day (at about 180lbs). This is good and I’ll try to keep it around there, if not even a little higher.
Like most people, my eating habits are pretty predictable and on the days I work very highly structured. I pack the same snacks every day and my main meal of the day is usually pretty consistent, most often chicken with sweet potato and vegetables. When I stick to the “regular” foods, my diet looks pretty good.
I think I fall into a trap that a lot of other people do – the “I usually eat healthy/exercise so it’s ok to slip up every now and then…” trap. And it’s easy to tell yourself that about as many times as you want. I do believe it is true if you *usually* keep clean, it’s ok to splurge here and there, but it got a little too frequent for me.
I’m not trying to say that I’m morbidly obese or anything – I’ve probably put on 10-20lbs that I could do without over the past year or so. Not a huge deal. I’ve just decided I’d like to get back down to the high 160’s while keeping as much of my muscle mass as possible. For what it’s worth, I did put on a noticeable increase of muscle with the weight gain, which was the goal.
Keeping track of what comes in so far has been pretty valuable…and it confirms that the “extras” can be a killer. I know there were plenty of days in the past few months where maybe I added a breakfast sausage or bacon to my normal breakfast, then maybe Mary baked banana bread or something that I had before work, then maybe when I got home from work I grabbed a handful of m&m’s from that fucking candy jar that always gets me and maybe had a beer. So if I get just about all of my calories from the things I should be eating, I just added another 700-1000 to it. There’s 3500 calories per pound of fat, so it doesn’t take too long to see how that adds up
I also confirmed that on the weekends when my eating isn’t as structured as it is during the weekdays, I’m high on sugar and fat and low on protein. I made a point yesterday to try to eat more like I would on a Tuesday and kept the sugar low – I think I had two peanut butter cookies over the course of the day and several servings of fruit.
I’ve also been slacking off on vegetables lately, which usually I’m pretty good about eating a wide range of vegetables. I started bringing some various raw veggies with me to work, whereas I was just bringing carrots to fill this void before. I will probably try going forward to prepare a bag of mixed raw veggies on Sunday for the upcoming week.
According to the app, it says I usually fall a little short on a couple vitamins and minerals. This kind of surprises me considering the things I eat, but I may need a multivitamin. I’d rather not, so if I can get everything from food I’d prefer that way. Not that there’s anything wrong with multivitamins.
I get plenty of fiber in my diet. I start the day off with oatmeal and I usually get enough fruits and veggies. My protein powder has fiber in it as well, as does my protein bars. So we’re good there.
After tallying up the normal foods I should eat, there is a little bit of wiggle room where I can reasonably have something like a cookie, slice of banana bread, a few squares of chocolate, etc. I’d like to make those things a little more sporadic though.
One thing I’m still a little shaky on is what would be my daily caloric expenditure? I imagine I burn a lot at my job, or at least more than someone who works in a cubicle and I usually spend about an hour at the gym lifting and such. I’ll usually get a couple walks in a week with the dogs. Then there’s hockey – I know I burn a SHITLOAD in one game, just based on how hungry I always feel afterwards. It would be wise to plan “cheat meals” around Sunday and hockey for this reason.
I’m not sure if I’ll keep up with this. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, but even just doing it for a week has caused some changes in my diet and more importantly, let me know where I was at and where I could improve. Now instead of saying “well, I usually eat healthy…” and having that always be a free pass, I know how things actually stack up. Worthwhile endeavor.