Tag Archives: fitness

Food Journals – Why use them?

Food journals are a great tool to help you lose weight or help you with any athletic goal you may have. These are used frequently by the most successful athletes and those who have dropped their body fat percentage rapidly. Once you can see how the food you are eating is affecting your health and your performance then it should be fairly easy to make the changes you need.

Why Recording Your Food Keeps You Accountable

Unfortunately, many people today have horrible eating habits. These habits are the result of many years of self abuse. Truly understanding this can be difficult. If you know ahead of time that you will have to record that chocolate cheesecake you just ate then you are probably less likely to feel tempted. As well if you are in a group of peers that will give you a lot of grief for doing so then that can be even more incentive to avoid eating like that.

Losing weight can be tough. It can be even more difficult if you don’t have a support system to help you through it. That is why you should not only record the food you eat on a daily basis but also get yourself an accountability partner. The idea behind an accountability partner is to rely on someone to hold you to your goals you have set.

Free Food Journals Online

An online food journal is perhaps the best route to go with in this case. The reason being is that you can easily share your food journal with whomever you want. As well, since these websites are used by thousands of people the amount of food that they keep track of is immense. So if you don’t know the macros of something you ate for lunch you can probably rest assured someone has put that meal in the website beforehand.

One of the best online food journals used by millions is myfitnesspal.com as this is used by many who go through various online weight loss programs. Since this is free to use you don’t have to worry about any monthly charges or anything like that, and many people experience great results just by contributing to the community that is already there.

If that is not something you like or would like to try a more feature rich website there are alternatives such as fitday.com and my-calorie-counter.com to name a couple. Fitday.com has the ability to set up a customized food plan for you, so that is definitely advantageous. However, there is something about meeting someone in real life that just seems more personal.

Many people have smart phones that they use each day. One of the benefits of having an online food journal is that you can easily track what you eat by entering in your food through your phone. As well if  you combine that ability with instagram you can be held accountable for everything you eat. That can make a big difference when you want to really shed those pounds.

Figuring out where you want to be

No matter how much food you track on a daily basis it would make little sense if you didn’t have a plan or goal in mind. Figuring out the reasons why you want to lose the weight is just as important as your daily excercise routine.

So if you want to lose weight or gain muscle, or both, then you need to write these goals down so you can plan out your meals for the week. By not only planning your meals and tracking them you increase the likelihood of future physical success dramatically. This combination is what keeps those who are on stage competing in bodybuilding shows in shape all the time.

You must be able to accurately track what you are eating. In that regards you should buy and use a food scale. These scales are not that expensive, there are many which can be bought on amazon.com for under 30 dollars, so there really is no excuse not to use one. If you have a hectic job then knowing you are ready with your meals will help you mentally keep true to your goals.

Food journals are a necessary part of your overall weight loss and fitness journey. So many people neglect their diet and that is the reason why they don’t experience the same level of success of others who are on point with their diet at all times.

How to determine body fat percentage

There are many ways to determine your body fat percentage. The reasons why you may want to do so are varied, needless to say the less bodyfat you have the healthier you are perceived to be. If you are planning on entering into any type of bodybuilding competition figuring out where you are at the moment you begin to train for a competition is crucial to your success.

You can use a variety of techniques to give you an estimate of your body fat. These methods will range in cost and effectiveness. The cheapest way to do this is by using calipers. You can buy some calipers from various locations for under 20 dollars. I know Amazon.com has several different calipers for sale from 15 to 50 dollars. There are some digital calipers you can buy that will do the math for you, so that may be an option.

Using calipers

Most people use calipers and pinch different points on their body to give them some idea. Calipers are easy to buy and if you know what you are doing can give you a rough guess of what your body fat really is. If you don’t know how to use these then it may be best to go to some gym or other fitness facility that offers this service.

There are several good guides you can find online that will help you with this method. You will need to take measurements at various points around your body these include:

  • ·         Triceps
  • ·         Biceps
  • ·         Shoulder Blade
  • ·         Waist
  • ·         Thigh
  • ·         Calf

Using a 7 point method you can fairly accurately determine your overall body composition. While this can be used as a general guide it should not be used as the gospel truth. However, since this method is relatively cheap you can check yourself over several months to monitor your progress without too much hassle.

The accuracy of this method is really dependent upon the person doing it. If you should test yourself again using this same method and have lost body fat then that should be relative to where you started. Essentially if you are estimated to be at 12 percent when you started and then get measured again and are at 9 percent then you can rest assured that you most likely lost 3 percent of body fat. But, as I mentioned this is not a completely accurate method so while you may be measured at 9 percent body fat your body fat composition may be higher than that.

There is also a quicker 3 point method to determine body fat, but this is even more inaccurate than the 7 point method. But if you are in a rush for time then this may be the best way to go to see how you should be eating for the week or for the day.

Other more expensive yet more accurate forms of measurement

Using a hydrostatic tank can be a fairly accurate way to determine how much fat you are carrying around. This method involves dunking yourself in water and by using just the law of physics you can determine what your body composition is made of. Most of the time this will be manned by someone experienced in using this method and he or she will have a computer to assist in accurately determining overall body fat.

DEXA scans are supposedly the most accurate ways to determine bone density, muscle composition, and body fat percentage. These scans are not cheap, they typically run around 200 dollars if not more, but they are extremely accurate. Since this involves a lot of radiation it is not advisable to be used often, in fact maybe once or twice per year would be best.

If given the choice between the hydrostatic method and the DEXA method I would choose the DEXA method as that is the most accurate. Unfortunately, this method is very expensive so my second preferred choice is the hydrostatic tank. Either way both of these are highly accurate and will help you find your starting point so you will know how to modify your diet in the future.

The worst way to determine body fat percentage

Unfortunately there is some hype around bathroom scales that can supposedly tell you how much body fat you have. These devices are notoriously inaccurate and a complete waste of your money. Don’t bother buying any scale that offers this feature, it is just a waste of money.

Any device that relies on bioelectrical impedance analysis is somehow flawed as many of these devices seem to come out of the manufacturing facility flawed in one respect or another. Over time I would expect these devices to get better but unfortunately they just have not.

Another horrible way to determine overall health is by using a BMI calculation. This method is greatly flawed in that it does not account for muscle mass. So those who are very muscular can sometimes be wrongly labeled as obese. Clearly someone who has a body fat percentage less than 9 percent would hardly be considered obese in normal circles.

The reasons why body fat percentage matter

Body fat around your waist, arms, and other body parts really can determine your overall health in the long run. Unfortunately there are many people who have a lot of fat around their waist and as such are putting themselves at risk for various coronary heart conditions and cancer.

The leaner you are as an athlete the better you will perform, this is a direct correlation between your overall body fat and how flexible and mobile you are on the field. No matter what sport you play the better you can move around the faster you will be and that could be the difference between winning and losing.