Misleading nutrition labels

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Burrito Nutrition Label

I hate when single serve packages list multiple servings for the package. The most likely consumption scenario, at least in the U.S., is that the entire package will be one serving. It may actually only be a partial serving, even.

The person who cuts the product in half and saves half for later is the exception--especially when it's a product or package that does not lend itself to warming and consuming only part, such as a pot pie or a burrito.

Weighing the food to keep me honest #twit2fit

Two years ago, I did a pretty good job combining training with weight loss by tracking my calories in a spreadsheet (2010 version).  The spreadsheet has a few components:

  • Day's weight (post workout, preferably).
  • Base calorie needs (weight in pounds x 13 calories)
  • Net intake [calories consumed - calories burned running only - base calorie needs]
  • Intake [calories consumed - calories burned running only]
  • Details
    • calories consumed with notes
    • calories burned based on post-workout weight and distance ran [using numbers from RunningAhead.com]

When I was keeping up with things, the calories per pound [H3 cell] was pretty close to 3500.

One challenge that I had was trying to be honest about "how much" food I was consuming when the portions weren't from a pre-measured package or menu item.  Ultimately, it was the tedious game of guessing my calorie intake that frustrated me and caused me to stop tracking calories.

To combat that problem, I have purchased the following food scale. There are a wealth of resources to help determine the calorie content of foods, generally by googling "[food name] calories". However, the portions aren't always usable or realistic. With this scale, I hope to remove some of the time-consuming guess work from tracking my calories.

[Paid Amazon Affiliate link]

My only stint of calorie counting in 3 years of weight loss #twit2fit

I did about 6 months of calorie counting, mostly focused during ramping up my mileage for my best marathon time ever (by at least 50 minutes).  I had intense focus on both training and diet (at least calorie intake) during this time.

However, I never regained momentum after the May marathon, as you may notice in the Net Calorie Intake log.

That said, it was a very effective way of learning how many calories were *really* in certain foods, as well as estimating which food choices were the best choices when you didn't have a calorie count/guide at your disposal.

The spreadsheet breakdown:

Baseline:

  • Basal metabolic rate - estimated at 13 x current weight.

The "net intake" is the:

  • Total calorie intake for the day
  • - Calories burned running (I used runningahead.com's numbers for my post workout weight x mileage, which were the most conservative estimates of calories burned.)
  • - Basal metabolic rate (post-workout weight x 13 calories)

My target for "net intake" was a net deficit of 500 calories.  As you can see, I went overboard early on, but eating caught up later on.  If you notice the "averages" line, I averaged about a 476 calorie deficit.

The "intake" number is the:

  • Total calorie intake for the day
  • - Calories burned running

You'll notice that I didn't count any other exercise.  There are two reasons for this:

  1. Calories burned directly during non-aerobic exercise are negligible (at least for calorie counting purposes).  You may burn 200 calories doing weights, etc..., but you'll probably get that much error in a too generous portion at a restaurant as well.  I tried to keep a good estimate.
  2. I didn't really do any other exercises other than running.  Cycling and elliptical machines give wildly varied calorie readings, and I always felt more of a workout from 1-2 miles of running than an hour of hard cycling.

I have to emphasize, this was a time of incredible focus for me, but the log itself was not sustainable for even my statistics-minded head.  I also need to point out that the calorie need calculations are from the over-simplified 13 x weight in lbs formula.

I'll share some other insights into my "calculations" and what I learned about nutrition during and after this exercise.