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Saturday, September 8, 2007

To Fitday or Not to Fitday

I've been using Fitday for as long as I can remember to track my calorie intake and macro breakdown, as well as to calculate the value of recipes, client intakes, etc. I use the free online version.
Why I love it:

* It's online, so I can access it from home and work
* I can share my daily log for people to see when I want to discuss it
* I can customize foods
* I can look at my food log in detail and have a reliable place to keep track of what I did in the past and how it affected me

Why I don't:

* It overestimates expenditure from activity (huh, I wish it didn't because then I could eat a boatload)
* It doesn't chart changes over long periods of time (one month might sound like enough, but sometimes I need to look at a longer period)

I have been keeping a detailed food and training log for the last 13 months, during which I have been very active in experimenting with different macro set-ups, caloric intakes and refeed schemes. I couldn't have done it without a reliable software to track my intentions and monitor my actions.

I spent the last three days without any internet access, right at the foot of a great mountain, surrounded with wonderful people, great tasting healthy food and enjoying plenty of time for activity and relaxation. The whole time I took notes on my phone, so that when I returned I could enter the foods in my log and calculate my intake. I am currently calorie cycling, but since those 3 days were very active, I chose to eat around maintenance and let my body choose how much my intake would be. I came back and entered my foods and to no surprise I averaged 1650 calories, the same amount I average between low and high calorie days during cycling and while calculating with Fitday. One reason is that subconsciously I make choices similar to the choices during my planned days, another is that my body is already used to an intake that it chases based on expenditure. The truly interesting thing is that I usually have 6 meals a day, while when on vacation they were brought down to 3 a day and yet I still averaged the same.

I am often asked " to count or not to count", "to Fitday or not to Fitday"?
My answer is yes for people that need to estimate their intake so they can make changes in it, yes for all of us that are manipulating calories on a daily basis and yes for all the beginners that have no idea what they are eating and need to learn how much they consume, so that they can learn to eyeball and manage portion sizes.
My answer is NO to all people who haven't learned to plan their intake around high quality foods, people who are on diet break, those who are good at judging their intake, and who already well manage food according to their goals.

To simplify:

Are you achieving your body composition goals without counting calories?


Are you eating high quality protein, vegetables and fats (or unprocessed carbohydrate)?

YES and I am acieving my body composition goals->DON'T COUNT
YES and I am not acieving my body composition goals->COUNT
NO->DON'T COUNT, focus on food quality

On a different note, keeping track of calories is only one way to track intake, but I find it very uniform, always simple, and very reliable. It also "translates" easy. It's always easier to explain that you easily add lean body mass when you eat 150 grams of protein and 1800 calories, rather than trying to add up 6 servings of protein, 5 servings of fat, 3 servings of carbohydrate and 10 servings of fruits and vegetables.

Calories are the money of the diet world where the market allows exciting exchanges.
Would I rather have a cup of fat free yogurt with some casein or trade that for a tablespoon of peanut butter and some cottage cheese before bed? Should I keep that peach for the morning or have it now? SeŠµ, nutrient timing makes the whole thing as crazy and unpredictable as the black market. Calories get devalued, prices skyrocket and new investments become risky. I am thinking of investing in a cup of tea right now due to some unwise purchases I made earlier this evening!

1 comment:

Lauren said...

LOVE have a great way of looking at things.

Thanks for inspiring me daily with your words.