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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | March 27, 2009

Winning at losing: logging, counting calories

By 1st Lt. Sarah Mueller 779th Medical Support Squadron clinical dietician

Editor's Note: The Air Force does not endorse any of the Web sites or books in this article. They are simply examples of resources available to the public.

What happens when you make lifestyle changes and they still do not make a difference? What if you honestly cannot put your finger on a bad habit that may be keeping you from a goal weight?

Enter food logs! A lot of recent research has shown us the importance of writing down everything you put into your mouth. Americans tend to eat a lot more than they actually realize, even if most of it is healthy. Portion sizes are also a huge problem.

We think, "Do I really want to write down that I ate four cookies?" or "Do I really want to write down this candy bar?" or even, "Do I really need a second waffle?" Logging our intake makes us very conscious of everything we consume and helps us to watch our portion size.

There are hundreds of online sites to record your dietary intake, such as

My preference is the old-fashioned way. I use a small notepad and pen, and keep it on my kitchen counter. Besides multiple food and restaurant Web sites, I use the trusty "Calorie King Calorie and Fat Counter" book to look up nutritional content of the various foods I consume.

Depending on their height and weight, most women should aim to consume between 1,500 and 1,800 calories daily. Men should shoot for 1,800 to 2,000 calories. The more you weigh, the higher your body's need for calories. It is important to not starve your body of important nutrients, and in turn, kill your metabolism by significantly reducing caloric intake.

While you are tracking calories, it is important to plan simple meals that are not too mixed or complicated to calculate calories. A good option for lunch may be a healthy frozen entree that tells you exactly how many calories you're getting. At dinner, aim to fill up half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables (green beans, broccoli, carrots, etc.), a quarter with a lean protein (baked chicken, beans, turkey, etc.), and the last quarter with a complex carbohydrate (brown rice, whole wheat roll, wild rice, etc.). For more information on portion sizes, reference the Web site

Once you've recorded for a week or two, you'll have a menu cycle that you can repeat and continue to lose weight with.

Can you resolve to track your food and calories for a day? A week?