Previously, I introduced you to a fantastic website for keeping a food journal called Myfitnesspal. I also showed you how to set target daily calorie goals. Today I’m going to demonstrate how to plan your meals for an entire day!
After logging in at http://www.myfitnesspal.com, click on the “Food” tab and then click on “Settings”. From that screen you can enable which nutrients you track and set up how many meals you plan on eating. I’ve set mine up to track carbs, fat, and protein, and I’ve set up 6 meals for the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 3 snacks.
When you are thinking about how many meals to eat per day, consider the goals we set up in my previous post. If you need to lose weight you may want to consider only having 1 or 2 snacks instead of 3.
Please note that I do not support restrictive diets that starve you in order for you to lose weight. I know it’s a crazy idea to get through your head, but you can train your body to lose weight efficiently while not starving yourself. The trick here is to keep your metabolism constantly churning by eating HEALTHY foods every 3 hours or so.
When you go longer than 3 hours without eating, your body begins to store your unused calories as fat. It’s creating a reserve from which to draw later. However, when you eat every 3 hours throughout the day, your body does not enter this mode of caloric storage and will continue burning calories.
Another thing I’d like to add about starvation type diets is that you will likely make extremely poor choices as a result of severe hunger. You will break down and go eat fast food or candy or whatever bad vice you like to shove into your face. By eating healthy food sensibly throughout the day, you can avoid the pitfall of poor food choices related to starvation.
This is the reason why starvation diets don’t work! They are not sustainable. If you know that you will not be able to eat restrictively for the rest of your life, then don’t try it. You will fail at whatever gimmicky diet you’ve been sold!
You can eat a surprising amount of food when you’re not eating junk. You can lose weight, stay healthy, and never be hungry while doing it!
Next, click on the “Food” tab again and you will see the nutrient and meal names that you selected. Now it’s time to enter your foods. Notice the “Quick Tools” button where you can quickly enter previous items you’ve eaten. This allows you to set up daily journals very quickly once you’ve entered a few days’ worth of meals.
I eat similar things all the time, so it doesn’t take me much time at all to set up a daily food journal. If your tastes vary considerably, then it may take a little more effort initially to enter your foods from day to day.
Type in the food you want to enter, and be amazed by the vast database of items already entered into Myfitnesspal. On the odd chance that your food is not already listed, you have the ability to enter it in manually. Here is my journal from today as an example:
As you can see by my example that I hit my target caloric range (described in Part 2 of this series) of 2200-2500 calories. I was slightly over in fat and protein, but I’m not concerned about over doing it by such a small amount. This is a fairly typical day’s nutrition plan for me. I do recognize a few places that I could improve on. Can you spot them? What do you suggest?
You can also see that I met my target goal and included a glass of wine with dinner. I did not starve at all today; I ate rather well and stuck to my 40% carb, 30% protein, 30% fat ratio that I described in my previous post. I’ve been eating this way for about 5 years now, and with my 6-day-a-week workout routine, I consistently hover around 8-9% body-fat on a bad day.
One last thing to add before I wrap up this post: Myfitnesspal has one of the best FREE Android phone apps in the genre of meal planning. You can download it straight from the Android Market or have it sent to your phone from Amazon.
If you have any questions or comments please join in the discussion below or email me through my Contact page. Thanks for reading!
Keep a Food Journal With Myfitnesspal (Part 3)