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calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?)
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in an effort to stay on top of my intake have been micromanaging my macros and calories. overall its almost like a game which is kinda neat and i like knowing what im putting in my body (ive been weighing everything with a little kitchen scale), but i must say it can be exhausting and frustrating.

i was using myfitnesspal and thought overall it was pretty good. i ran across a smaller service called "cronometer" that seemed to market themselves as being more focused on the quality of their data versus the quantity and unregulated crowdsourced info, but even in this app / service im seeing discrepancies between the caloric totals of the macros and the overall daily totals.

i have a tendency to be very detail / fact oriented (OCD) and things not lining up perfect drive me crazy.

im just curious how everyone tracks their intake. what sort of service do you use? how closely do you stick to your targets, or do you just use it as a general guide?

2019 Schedule: Ironman 70.3 Texas April 7 & Ironman 7.03 Waco Oct 27
Last edited by: damon.lebeouf: Feb 26, 19 8:47
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [damon.lebeouf] [ In reply to ]
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I use cronometer everyday, but only for calories. What purpose do you have to track macros at such an close level?

Instagram | floathammerholdon
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [cloy] [ In reply to ]
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cloy wrote:
I use cronometer everyday, but only for calories. What purpose do you have to track macros at such an close level?

like i said, it pretty much is boiling down to my OCD.

im trying to stick to 60/20/20 on my ratio and i like things to be as close to perfect as possible. if im using a paid service i like to know its accurate.

2019 Schedule: Ironman 70.3 Texas April 7 & Ironman 7.03 Waco Oct 27
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [damon.lebeouf] [ In reply to ]
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I use myfitnesspal.

I find that the best way to do this is eat the same things over and over. I eat the same breakfast and lunch every day (with some variation from time to time of course) and in general eat from the same base of items for dinner. The simpler your menu is and the more homemade it is the better. Eating out makes tracking calories impossible as you can’t rely on any of the published numbers because their portions don’t match what “Coporate” does. Packaged foods are the easiest to track but I’m assuming you don’t want to eat prepackaged foods for obvious reasons. With a stable base of ingredients you’ll spend some time up front getting them loaded in your favorites database but once that leg work is done then it’s quick and reliable.

I also use the recipes function often. I’ll build the recipe in myfitness and then I have it to tap into. I create the servings based on ounces and then I measure how many ounces of the recipe I eat and load it. This works really well for me because as long as I make it to the recipe I just need to weigh what goes on my plate and then I can assign the right caloric value to it. Pancakes are a good examples of this.

I also do things like making an entire batch per the recipe and then make sure I’m the only one who eats it and as long as I eat the whole thing then I know that I consumed all of the calories and the day-to-day variability of serving sizes is less important, though I track it as best as possible anyway. I do this with my lunch and something like a pasta meal (make the pound and eat it over four or five days).
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [cloy] [ In reply to ]
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Eventually life gets easier when you eat the same staples, you can eye things out


http://www.coupleofathletes.com
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [damon.lebeouf] [ In reply to ]
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If I'm not actively trying to lose weight, I don't. If I'm in heavy training, I mostly try to make sure I get enough carbohydrates. I always try to consume the same amount of protein regardless of training load. if I'm getting run down due to nutrition, its pretty much always because I'm getting depleted---either due to quantity or timing or both.

However when I am trying to drop a few...I use "Lose It!" They have both crowd sourced, and non-crowd sourced data and its clear which is which. Database accuracy is always a problem, but I've had good luck with that one. Even the curated data can be problematic. But, most people don't eat a massive variety of things, so you can reasonably quickly stabilize your personal inventory. I think it was probably about a month worth of "harder work" to settle in on a typical dataset. After that, it was mostly repetition.

When I'm trying to lose a few, I track things pretty closely (scales, or other specific measurements). A 500 calorie deficit isn't really very much food. I also try and underestimate my calories burned, and over estimate the food consumed...to try and ensure that I truly have a deficit. After a few weeks if I'm loosing too fast, I can always eat a little more.
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [Chris B.O.B.] [ In reply to ]
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+1 for myfitnesspal, but I don't get too hung up on accuracy because it's all really guesses. I enter all the items I eat, home-made or eating out, and know it's basically a best guess. Then I weigh myself every morning, and due to scale accuracy that also really just a guess. Plus it depends on how slow or fast your body is processing yesterday's food, but when you focus on the 7 day view of "over/under" it's pretty dependable.

When I first started I just kept playing with my daily calorie base rate until the food I ate and the scale's numbers began to line up pretty close. I have scaled my carb intake up and down to match my training seasonality, but I seem to be pretty consistent with macro percentages.

I get that most of us are type A and have some pretty OCD tendencies, but you're just way overthinking it.

I'm closer to the feathered end of the spear than the point.
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [damon.lebeouf] [ In reply to ]
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I use Fitbit, and it works pretty well for me. I enter everything I eat, but I do not sweat hyper details of precision. The goal is directional, and that truly is the best you can do. Your BMR is a total guess. And, your exercise burn calories are a total guess. They could be off by hundreds of calories. So, if you are off in your intake by a few hundred, it is meaningless.

I am currently in a major weight loss track, so I am gunning for daily intake hundreds of calories below estimated burn. Just the act of counting keeps you aware and likely on track. I assume that my burn is grossly overstated, so I try to keep intake consistently low-- at least 1K below daily burn estimates and often 2K. This yields about 2 lbs./week weight loss.
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [exxxviii] [ In reply to ]
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exxxviii wrote:
I use Fitbit, and it works pretty well for me. I enter everything I eat, but I do not sweat hyper details of precision. The goal is directional, and that truly is the best you can do. Your BMR is a total guess. And, your exercise burn calories are a total guess. They could be off by hundreds of calories. So, if you are off in your intake by a few hundred, it is meaningless.

I am currently in a major weight loss track, so I am gunning for daily intake hundreds of calories below estimated burn. Just the act of counting keeps you aware and likely on track. I assume that my burn is grossly overstated, so I try to keep intake consistently low-- at least 1K below daily burn estimates and often 2K. This yields about 2 lbs./week weight loss.

There is no way this is sustainable.

Instagram | floathammerholdon
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [damon.lebeouf] [ In reply to ]
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I use myfitnesspal. Luckily I've been using it on and off for years and have a lot of options that I eat often ready to go. I've also developed a good eye for measurement so if and when I find myself without cups and tablespoons I just eyeball it. Also, while boring as F$ck I have a tendency to eat the same lunch all week or even longer. Especially if I can make a recipe that I already have in MFP, and food prep for the week. Another tip I've done is once during a long weekend I made 4 batches of soup, froze them all, calculated into MFP, and just took them in prepped servings as I wanted them.

I still lapped everyone on the couch!
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [damon.lebeouf] [ In reply to ]
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I use sparkpeople to track food and weight, but I have customized it to met my needs.

ishi no ue ni san nen | Perseverance will win in the end. | Blog | @nebmot | Strava | Instagram |
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [damon.lebeouf] [ In reply to ]
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I don't count/track my calorie consumption (or expenditure) at all, so take this with a grain of salt...

I've read that the labeled nutritional content of foods (including calories) can vary by as much as 20% from the stated quantity, in accordance with US FDA guidelines. If that's true, I think trying to adhere to a proscribed quantity based on labeling (with a +/- 20% variance) is likely to result in a wider range of variability than my general approach of just trying to eat a balanced diet day to day, using my hunger as a guide.
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [cloy] [ In reply to ]
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cloy wrote:
exxxviii wrote:
I use Fitbit, and it works pretty well for me. I enter everything I eat, but I do not sweat hyper details of precision. The goal is directional, and that truly is the best you can do. Your BMR is a total guess. And, your exercise burn calories are a total guess. They could be off by hundreds of calories. So, if you are off in your intake by a few hundred, it is meaningless.

I am currently in a major weight loss track, so I am gunning for daily intake hundreds of calories below estimated burn. Just the act of counting keeps you aware and likely on track. I assume that my burn is grossly overstated, so I try to keep intake consistently low-- at least 1K below daily burn estimates and often 2K. This yields about 2 lbs./week weight loss.


There is no way this is sustainable.


Don't be rediculous. Yes it is. Been there, done that. Lost 55 lbs in 6 months doing exactly that.

As exxxviii, points out...everything is a guess except your bodyweight on the scale...even that has a big error factor in it due to daily hydration fluctuations. So, what looks like 2k deficit really works out to whatever the scale says it is...2 lbs / week = roughly 1000 real calories. But, even THAT is a guess...as the amount of water stored in adipose tissue (and is lost when the fat is burned) changes with the individual (generally this ranges from 3300-3750 calories per pound of fatty-tissue).

I did EXACTLY as exxviii is doing. I assumed I ate more than the counting said...and I assumed I burned less than the calculator predicted. Then I weighed myself EVERY day (still do), and I adjusted my calories to drive a specific weight loss RATE (1.5 - 2 lbs per week). I tracked everything for the entire 6 months, calories consumed/burned, predicted weight loss, actual weight loss (from inception and rolling 14 day averages) including lean and fat mass using the tanita scale, and backed that up with calipers via the local health club.

Heck I even wrote excel forumulas to predict when I would hit my goal weight, and what my BF% would be when I got there...to include the effects of reduced BMR as a result of lower body mass. I even tracked THOSE prediction using 14 day rolling averages.
Last edited by: Tom_hampton: Feb 26, 19 10:06
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [Tom_hampton] [ In reply to ]
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cloy wrote:
There is no way this is sustainable.

Tom_hampton wrote:
Don't be rediculous. Yes it is. Been there, done that. Lost 55 lbs in 6 months doing exactly that.

As exxxviii, points out...everything is a guess except your bodyweight on the scale...even that has a big error factor in it due to daily hydration fluctuations. So, what looks like 2k deficit really works out to whatever the scale says it is...2 lbs / week = roughly 1000 real calories. But, even THAT is a guess...as the amount of water stored in adipose tissue (and is lost when the fat is burned) changes with the individual (generally this ranges from 3300-3750 calories per pound of fatty-tissue).

I did EXACTLY as exxviii is doing. I assumed I ate more than the counting said...and I assumed I burned less than the calculator predicted. Then I weighed myself EVERY day (still do), and I adjusted my calories to drive a specific weight loss RATE (1.5 - 2 lbs per week). I tracked everything for the entire 6 months, calories consumed/burned, predicted weight loss, actual weight loss (from inception and rolling 14 day averages) including lean and fat mass using the tanita scale, and backed that up with calipers via the local health club.

Heck I even wrote excel forumulas to predict when I would hit my goal weight, and what my BF% would be when I got there...to include the effects of reduced BMR as a result of lower body mass. I even tracked THOSE prediction using 14 day rolling averages.
MEGA DITTO to everything you say. One other important thing is daily weighing. That is huge, because you have the psychology of seeing weight every day and watching calories at every intake opportunity. And like you did, I am working a spreadsheet to forecast loss based on my scale's BF% and a target BF %. I am aiming for a 25 lb. drop from my recent porky-peak, and about 15 lbs. below what I was satisfied with in the past.

2 lbs./week is highly sustainable for long periods of time while training, and just like your range, I am probably hitting around 1.7 lbs./week.
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [Chris B.O.B.] [ In reply to ]
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Chris B.O.B. wrote:
I use myfitnesspal.

I find that the best way to do this is eat the same things over and over. I eat the same breakfast and lunch every day (with some variation from time to time of course) and in general eat from the same base of items for dinner. The simpler your menu is and the more homemade it is the better. Eating out makes tracking calories impossible as you can’t rely on any of the published numbers because their portions don’t match what “Coporate” does. Packaged foods are the easiest to track but I’m assuming you don’t want to eat prepackaged foods for obvious reasons. With a stable base of ingredients you’ll spend some time up front getting them loaded in your favorites database but once that leg work is done then it’s quick and reliable.

I also use the recipes function often. I’ll build the recipe in myfitness and then I have it to tap into. I create the servings based on ounces and then I measure how many ounces of the recipe I eat and load it. This works really well for me because as long as I make it to the recipe I just need to weigh what goes on my plate and then I can assign the right caloric value to it. Pancakes are a good examples of this.

I also do things like making an entire batch per the recipe and then make sure I’m the only one who eats it and as long as I eat the whole thing then I know that I consumed all of the calories and the day-to-day variability of serving sizes is less important, though I track it as best as possible anyway. I do this with my lunch and something like a pasta meal (make the pound and eat it over four or five days).

That's what I do as well.

Rugby Media Dude-earfulofdirt.com

Hooker training for the Sport of Scrum-Halves [Triathlon]
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [damon.lebeouf] [ In reply to ]
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Measuring your food seems like way too much work, and the final product surely still has a large error in it.

I just weigh myself everyday, 2nd thing in the morning (after going to the bathroom). I don’t make adjustments to the quantity of food I’m eating unless I see a trend I don’t want. This is pretty easy if you eat similarly everyday.

Strava I Instagram I Team Every Man Jack I
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [damon.lebeouf] [ In reply to ]
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I find the LoseIt app (premium/paid) great for calories and macros

the world's still turning? >>>>>>> the world's still turning
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [Callin'] [ In reply to ]
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Callin' wrote:
I find the LoseIt app (premium/paid) great for calories and macros

I used the free version of LoseIt and spent a lot of time entering my own recipes on there. After that it was easy, but getting to that point was brutal.
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [damon.lebeouf] [ In reply to ]
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Just stick with it. Use an app like Loseit or Myfitness pal for the first 6 weeks.

It'll drive you nuts for the first two weeks and seem unsustainable due to all the logging, but trust me, keep at it and you will find that:

1. You will have eaten so many things on repeat that it will come up instantly in the app, no searching required and is nearly instantaneus to enter.

2. You will be able to gauge caloric content of food surprisingly accurately. You should actually practice this during those 6 weeks - try and predict the calories of something significant you eat, and compare it to the listed calories. You will get to a point where you can do this with good-enough accuracy and then for foods you only eat once in a blue moon you can just estimate rather than go through all the trouble of finding the calorie load. (Esp for restaurant meals and other ones with unlisted calories.)

One reasonable way is to compare roughly what the food you ate feels compared to a fixed item, like a bagel the way you prepared it. If you're a lot less full than how you'd feel with a bagel, you can use less calories than the bagel as a guess.

3. If you actually do stick to your diet, you'll be eating routine meals with grouped food items you like semiregularly. Also super easy to enter on Loseit - you can just repeat an entire meal that you ate in the app without re-entering one by one.
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [exxxviii] [ In reply to ]
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exxxviii wrote:
cloy wrote:
There is no way this is sustainable.

Tom_hampton wrote:
Don't be rediculous. Yes it is. Been there, done that. Lost 55 lbs in 6 months doing exactly that.

As exxxviii, points out...everything is a guess except your bodyweight on the scale...even that has a big error factor in it due to daily hydration fluctuations. So, what looks like 2k deficit really works out to whatever the scale says it is...2 lbs / week = roughly 1000 real calories. But, even THAT is a guess...as the amount of water stored in adipose tissue (and is lost when the fat is burned) changes with the individual (generally this ranges from 3300-3750 calories per pound of fatty-tissue).

I did EXACTLY as exxviii is doing. I assumed I ate more than the counting said...and I assumed I burned less than the calculator predicted. Then I weighed myself EVERY day (still do), and I adjusted my calories to drive a specific weight loss RATE (1.5 - 2 lbs per week). I tracked everything for the entire 6 months, calories consumed/burned, predicted weight loss, actual weight loss (from inception and rolling 14 day averages) including lean and fat mass using the tanita scale, and backed that up with calipers via the local health club.

Heck I even wrote excel forumulas to predict when I would hit my goal weight, and what my BF% would be when I got there...to include the effects of reduced BMR as a result of lower body mass. I even tracked THOSE prediction using 14 day rolling averages.

MEGA DITTO to everything you say. One other important thing is daily weighing. That is huge, because you have the psychology of seeing weight every day and watching calories at every intake opportunity. And like you did, I am working a spreadsheet to forecast loss based on my scale's BF% and a target BF %. I am aiming for a 25 lb. drop from my recent porky-peak, and about 15 lbs. below what I was satisfied with in the past.

2 lbs./week is highly sustainable for long periods of time while training, and just like your range, I am probably hitting around 1.7 lbs./week.

My basal metabolic rate is somewhere in the realm of 1700 calories... I'm not heavily training right now (1-2 workouts a day, averaging 10-13 hours a week, no running due to an injury). So let's say I'm "burning" 3k calories on bigger day... Are you advising I eat four 250 calories meals a day?

Instagram | floathammerholdon
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Re: calorie / macro counting is maddening (how do you all track your intake?) [cloy] [ In reply to ]
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cloy wrote:

My basal metabolic rate is somewhere in the realm of 1700 calories... I'm not heavily training right now (1-2 workouts a day, averaging 10-13 hours a week, no running due to an injury). So let's say I'm "burning" 3k calories on bigger day... Are you advising I eat four 250 calories meals a day?


I'm not advising you on anything....only relaying what I actually did, and actually worked.

The point is none of those things you've said are probably true. They are gross approximations. I find Garmin's calorie burn estimates to be much larger than what I think I truly burn in a workout. Same with BMR. For me, Garmin is somewhere between 25-30% (800-900 calories) high on daily totals, as best as I can make out. But, it could equally be that LoseIt calorie estimates are low by the same amount. I tend to trust the food estimates a little more than the calorie burn rates, but I don't really have very much of a basis for that opinion. Except that GoogleFit (burn rates) aligns MUCH better with my personal data.

At 209 lbs I consumed what I measured to be 3x500 calorie meals per day. At 160 lbs, I consumed what I measured to be 3x400 calories per day. From 29 Jan, 2016 to 30 May, 2016 I had an average weight loss rate of 0.268 lbs per day or 940 calories REAL deficit (ETA: as noted above Garmin estimated my deficit to be almost twice that). That loss rate was very steady and predictable (R**2 for the linear regression was 0.98). Most days I got on the scale it went down by roughly that 1/4 lbs.

At the end of the day what matters is how much weight you are losing. If you aren't losing, then you are eating what you burn...which means you are either eating more than you think, or burning less than you think. It doesn't really matter which, because the error is systematic. So, you just adjust one or both to accomodate the error....eat 500 less than you were...or burn another 500 more without consuming more food. Or split it 50/50...doesn't matter.
Last edited by: Tom_hampton: Feb 26, 19 14:52
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