Weighing your food – a little neurotic? Probably. Difference in your routine? Most likely. Not as tedious as you think? You got it!
A food scale is the first tool I recommend, next to a food tracking app, to get the nutrition side of your health and wellness fully dialed in. You can usually find one for $15-30 – a small investment for a lot of information. Knowing how much of an ingredient or food you are actually eating is so important. Some foods come pre-packaged and you can use the information written to figure out how much is in a serving. Problems arise with the bulk ingredients (that you SHOULD be going after) that only give nutrition facts off of weight. At first it will seem strange to weigh everything but over time I have found it to be just another part of food prep and even found it to be a time saver. Here are three “features” and uses I have found:
Tare Function – place an item on top of the scale and press “tare”. This re-zeros the scale for another food. This recipes super fast as you can add ingredients with exact weight and tare the amount in-between.
Food Scale Instead of Measuring Cups – certain liquids are only measured by volume and measuring cups are still needed. However, most foods have their exact weight (given in grams typically) on the nutrition facts label.
ex. 1 Two tablespoons of peanut butter is a serving. Rather than dealing with it sticking to your tablespoon and not being sure if it’s an exact amount, just weigh it (32g) and be done with it.
ex. 2 You have 6 ingredients that would all use measuring cups normally. Rather than making a bunch of dishes, you can add each one and tare in between!
Exact Portions – once you enter a recipe, you can weigh the final product and use that number to figure out portions.
ex. Box of pasta and can of marinara sauce is 55 oz. An 8oz portion is 8/55 of those two ingredients (easily added to a tracking app like MyFitnessPal
The power of knowing exactly what you are eating is huge for people looking to lose weight, build muscle, or just eat a little more healthy. If you are tracking and not getting to your goals it becomes extremely easy to adjust your nutrition because you have accurate CORRECT data that isn’t guessed with “dollops” of this and a “pinch” of that. It may not seem easy or convenient but it’s what works.
I should start with a small disclaimer: I don’t mean to overly promote MyFitnessPal (MFP) the brand. In the end, there are several apps that work in a similar fashion. That said, I have used MFP consistently over the past year and a half and feel I have met my personal goals in large part to it. Therefore, I’m going to talk about it, hype it up, and explain how to use it for yourself but only because I truly stand behind it from experience. Fore some parts of this post, the same is true for MyFitnessPal and any other calorie tracking app but not always. The below is a “How To” on getting started using the app:
Step 1: Download the app or go to the website and create a login.
Step 2: Go through the set up but don’t worry about what goals you have activity level, etc. That is for later.
Step 3: Track what you normally eat for 1 week. Be diligent about catching EVERYTHING. A food scale is almost a must and a small investment for your kitchen. DON’T WORRY about what calories, macros, grams of protein, etc. you’re getting. This is just to set you up.
*Optional Step*: Look up the username “tribley” and add me as a friend!
Honest Truths – During your “calibrating week”, here are some things to be aware of:
- It’s easier to be exact by eating at home and using your food scale.
- Use the barcode scanner and if you’re searching for a food, try to get the green badge “verified” next to it.
- Foods labeled “raw” (ex. “Carrots – Raw”) are good indications they are correct (probably from USDA)
- Check the break down and see if it “adds up”. There are 4 calories per gram of protein and carbohydrate and 9 calories per gram of fat. If it says 30g of fat but 200 calories that can’t be right.
- If you eat out, see if you can go to place where the nutrition facts are online (Chipotle, Subway, Potbelly’s, Roti are my personal go-to’s). You can enter the information yourself or search to see if someone else already has.
Where will this take you? It’s all up to you but tracking is not the miserable task so many people make it out to be. MyFitnessPal is doing the “calorie counting” for you. All you have to do is enter your food and even that gets easier the more you do it as the app saves your previous foods, recipes, entries, etc. It’s no different than tracking your gas mileage or being good about a budget – like them, you just have to commit to doing it. You have to know what your issues are before you can fix them and nutrition is 90% of the battle. Better yet though – logging your food to align with your goals also gives you the freedom to work in foods you might have thought you “could never eat” on a nutrition plan. How good is that!?
Do the 3 steps above and if you want more information going forward, get in contact with me, and we can start working toward your goals.