Houston, we have a problem...Human error! FAIL!!
Hey, hey friends! Well, it's been about a month since your trip into the watery depths of the fat and MUSCLE truck! As Erica mentioned, some of you emerged from the truck with a gleaming smile and a luminous glow while others of you made your hasty escape as a thunderstorm of frustration and disbelief.
For those of you on track, great! You've gained important knowledge about yourself. Whether consciously or intuitively, you've stumbled upon the best eating/moving combination for your body and your goals--whether that's fat loss, muscle gain (or both), and overall health! Congratulations!
Now, for those of you caught in your own frustrating storm, let's have a little chat-chat!
First off, there's soooo much information around the Internet making it difficult to determine who to turn to or which tools and strategies to use that will be appropriate for your personal fitness goals.
One tool I'd like you to consider is a food scale. Here's why: CALORIES do COUNT!
Anyone who tells you calories don't matter either has an agenda (such as selling the idea that you can have the body of your dreams without working for it), or they might be misinformed, or they are possibly a genetic freak with a crazy-fast metabolism; and for them, calories may not really matter too much. However, for the vast majority of people like us, calories DO count!
Maybe you're thinking, but I've been tracking my calories...yet, I'm further away from my goals rather than closer, so what gives?
My question to you is, HOW have you been tracking calories? If you're eyeballing food volumes or if you have been using measuring cups, and you were disappointed in your recent body fat/muscle gain results, I'm so sorry to break it to you, but, your plan of action is failing due to human error. One possible issue is that your calculations of energy consumption are off because you're using inappropriate and/or inaccurate tools.
I want to share with you a real-life example for why using a food scale to track your food consumption is helpful.
This is from the forum Calorie-Counter http://caloriecount.about.com/forums/foods/oats-confusion
I have a packet of rolled oats that says that for every 1/3 cup (dry), weighing 30g, it has 120 calories. This confuses me, because when I weigh it [out, a measured dry] 1/4 cup already gives me 30g! Also, I've always thought that 1/2 cup of dry oats has 150 calories, so that means 1/4 cup has 75 calories! The ingredients just state: "Oats (rolled)". Nothing more. So why is the nutritional information and weight screwed up? What gives? Which should I believe?
Reply from the site:
You can't really use cup measurements for this stuff, since it's solid not liquid.
If it says 30g is 120 calories, than 30g is 120 calories.
1/2 cup of rolled oats (40g) is 150 calories.
The problem is that your measuring techniques and devices could be causing under and/or overeating--both of which can sabotage your goals. (Remember my last post about not eating enough for current activity levels?!)
Food scales run from cheap to expensive, chintzy to refined. You don't need to go breaking the bank on this tool. You can usually find them in the $20-$35 range at places like Bed, Bath, and Beyond or GNC. Definitely find one that measures BOTH ounces and grams.
Now, we don't want you to get so caught up in weighing food that we need to counsel you for an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. We just want you to develop a stronger visual reference for how much food makes an appropriate portion. Use a food scale for a couple of weeks until you develop stronger visual skills to determine proper food serving sizes (and thus an accurate calorie count). Especially, use a scale to measure carbs and fats, because one serving of almond butter (2 TBS) does NOT mean trying to balance half the jar on the end of your tablespoon!! (Haha! You know you've been there, as have I!)
When you feel you have visually mastered the correct amounts of your popular go-to food items, put the scale away for a while. Then, when you feel yourself slipping up, pull it out again and use it for a week or so.
Best of luck, and please let me know how you fly! We don't want to repeat a crash landing now, do we? - Amber St. Claire