Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Smart Way To Count Calories

Nowadays, we spend a lot of time away from home whether we are in the workforce or not.  If we are in the workforce, more than half of our day may be spent away from home.  And for those that are not in the workforce a typical day may be spent running errands, grocery shopping, or driving the kids around town.  This is important because spending a lot of time away from home can greatly impact our diet. 

It's so easy to get into the habit of relying on restaurants, fast food, cafeterias, vending machines, and grab-and-go foods and beverages because they are not only convenient, but they taste good.

Our fast-paced society causes many of us to not even think about the types of foods and beverages we are consuming.  Now is the perfect time to start tracking what we eat.  By inputting our foods into a calculated system, we can learn which foods and beverages may be setting us over our limits and preventing us from achieving personal health and wellness goals.

There are a variety of free websites available to help us track calories and help us learn healthier food and beverage options.  With the help of http://myfitnesspal.com I was able to input my personal information and experiment with various meal options.

The 3 example daily meals I chose are listed below and range from "not-so-good" to "best" when comparing food and beverage selections to my personal goals and nutritional needs.  As you compare each example, write down any differences you observe. 

Meal Selections Example #1:  Not-So-Good

Breakfast: 760 Calories; 35g Fat; 22g Protein; 1,610mg Sodium; 4g Fiber
  • McDonalds Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuit
  • McDonalds Hashbrown
  • McDonalds Orange Juice 12 oz.
Lunch:  1,090 Calories; 33g Fat; 35g Protein; 2,385mg Sodium; 6g Fiber
  • Papa John's - 2 slices pepperoni pizza
  • Papa John's - 2 breadsticks
  • Pepsi 12 oz.
Dinner:  1,625 Calories; 77g Fat; 53g Protein; 2,180mg Sodium; 18g Fiber
  • Chipotle - Tortilla with white rice, steak, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce
  • Chipotle - Chips
  • Chipotle - Iced Tea (half sweet, half unsweet) 16 oz.
Snack:  300 Calories; 8g Fat; 2g Protein; 263mg Sodium; 1g Fiber
  • Doritos - 1 package
  • Minute Maid - Lemonade, 12 oz.
Totals:  3,775 Calories; 153g Fat; 112g Protein; 6,438mg Sodium;
              29g Fiber
My Goal:  1,850 Calories; 62g Fat; 93g Protein; 2,300 mg Sodium; 
                  25-30g Fiber
Remaining: -1,925 Calories; -91g Fat; -19g Protein; -4,138 mg Sodium

Meal Selections Example #2:  Better

Breakfast:  400 Calories; 9g Fat; 22g Protein; 870mg Sodium; 6g Fiber
  • McDonalds - Yogurt & Fruit Parfait
  • McDonalds - Eggwhite Delight Mcmuffin
  • Dasani - Bottled Water, 20 oz.
Lunch:  495 Calories; 18g Fat; 18g Protein; 1,560mg Sodium; 4g Fiber
  • Papa John's - Garden Salad with Low Calorie Italian Salad Dressing
  • Papa John's - 2 slices Garden Fresh Pizza
  • Aquafina - Bottled Water, 20 oz. 
Dinner:  715 Calories; 25g Fat; 19g Protein; 1,240mg Sodium; 19g Fiber
  • Chipotle - Tortilla with cilantro lime brown rice, lettuce, pinto beans
  • Chipotle - Kid's Chips
  • Aquafina - Bottled Water, 20 oz.
Snack:  180 Calories; 11g Fat; 2g Protein; 210mg Sodium; 1g Fiber
  • Lay's - Baked Ruffles Chips, 1 package
  • Aquafina - Bottled Water, 20 oz.
Totals:  1,790 Calories; 63g Fat; 61g Protein; 3,880mg Sodium;
              30g Fiber
My Goal:  1,850 Calories; 62g Fat; 93g Protein; 2,300 mg Sodium;
                  25-30g Fiber
Remaining:  60 Calories; -1g Fat; 32g Protein; -1,580mg Sodium

Meal Selections Example #3:  Best

Breakfast:  405 Calories; 16g Fat; 28g Protein; 534mg Sodium; 1g Fiber
  • Omelet - 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites, shredded cheese (1/3c.), onions, peppers,  mushrooms
  • Yogurt - Light, Strawberry
  • Grapes - 1 cup
  • Aquafina - Bottled Water, 20oz.
Lunch:  466 Calories; 16g Fat; 25g Protein; 1,178mg Sodium; 13g Fiber
  • Pizza - 1 slice with whole wheat crust, shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salad - Romaine lettuce (2 cup), shredded carrots, broccoli, and Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, 2 Tbsp.
  • Aquafina - Bottled Water, 20 oz.
Dinner:  680 Calories; 4g Fat; 58g Protein; 774mg Sodium; 10g Fiber
  • Chicken Soft Tacos (2) - whole wheat tortillas, grilled chicken breast (8 oz.), brown rice (1 cup), shredded lettuce, Salsa (4 Tbsp.)
  • Aquafina - Bottled Water, 20 oz.
Snack:  205 Calories; 8g Fat; 5g Protein; 72mg Sodium; 6g Fiber
  • Apple - 1 large with skin
  • Jiffy - Creamy Peanut Butter, 1 Tbsp.
Totals:  1,756 Calories; 44g Fat; 116g Protein; 2,558mg Sodium;
              30g Fiber
My Goal: 1,850 Calories; 62g Fat; 93g Protein; 2,300 mg Sodium;
                 25-30g Fiber
Remaining:  94 Calories; 18g Fat; -23g Protein; -258mg Sodium

There are some obvious and not-so-obvious differences when comparing the 3 examples of daily meal selections.  Let's check out some of the comparisons: 

Example #1:   I am choosing mainly high fat and high calorie foods and I am significantly in the red with calories, fat, and sodium.  If I continue to eat as I did in example #1, not only will I gain 18 pounds in 5 weeks, I will also be risking my cardiovascular health given the tremendous amounts of sodium I am consuming.

Example #2:  By making healthier selections at the same restaurant locations as in example #1, I am able to stay under my calorie limit and my sodium intake is significantly improved. Surprisingly, my protein intake is under my goal range, however.

Example #3:  If I take the time to prepare my meals at home, I will nearly meet my nutritional goals.  In fact, I have almost 100 calories to spare for an evening glass of wine or a small portion of chocolate!

The bottom line is if we don't pay attention to the types of foods and beverages we consume, we may end up consuming more meals that are close to example #1. 

Check out #myfitnesspal to ensure your current eating habits are supporting your health and wellness goals.  I can personally say that I was surprised with my results!



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