Adopting a ketogenic lifestyle is simple in theory. You just drop the carbs and increase the fats. What could be more simple than that? Well, in theory, it’s simple, but in practice, it’s a little tricky. The problem arises when you’re not quite sure of the macronutrient makeup of the foods you’re eating. This is where My Fitness Pal comes in.
Background for My Ketogenic Eating
I chose to eat this way of eating for two reasons. The first reason is to drop the 20 pounds I’ve been trying to drop for about a decade. The second reason is that I believe it’s a healthy way to eat. The logic behind ketogenic eating makes sense to me and I like to do things that I believe in.
Having said that, I’m running into a bit of a challenge and frustration. I watch as my husband is dropping weight like crazy (granted, he does have a lot more weight to lose than I do), while I lose a pound here or there. I am losing weight but at a snail’s pace.
The other challenge/frustration I have is if I eat incorrectly, the weight seems to pile on quickly. Case in point: As I wrote in my last post, hubby took time off from work and we went to hell in a handbasket. We ate low carb/high fat, but we dined out. Of course, when you dine out you’re never really sure of the ingredients used. We didn’t eat the breads, pastas, potatoes, rice, etc that comes with the meals. We opted for extra butter and vegetables instead of the starchier carbs. We also drank more alcohol while he was off from work. We like having a cocktail with our evening meals.
When it was all said and done, those 10 days of eating out and drinking cocktails put 10 pounds on my body and 3 pounds on his! What?! Ten whole pounds, are you kidding me? Ugh! Fortunately, by the end of the following week the 10 pounds were gone, but really? I’ve never gained that much weight in such a short period of time in my life! Not even when I was pregnant!
Age, Metabolism, Hormones?
I continue to look for any sensible reason as to why I lose weight so slowly and gain it so quickly while eating LCHF. I’m not giving up, I just have to get a better understanding of what the heck is going on with me, my body and my eating. Enter My Fitness Pal.
My Fitness Pal is a free online calorie and fitness counter. With it I’m able to track what I eat and how much I move. The beauty of it is it gives me the macronutrient breakdown of the foods I eat. This allows me to see if my ketogenic percentage goal of 80/15/5 (fat/protein/carb) is being met daily or if am I just fooling myself.
A Little about My Fitness Pal
First, let me say that as a rule, I don’t like tracking my food. I was always bad at keeping a food diary. Maybe that’s why I’ve been trying to lose the same 20 pounds for a decade or more. As Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed.” I guess it’s time for me to measure what I eat in order to manage it and really see a change (you know the saying, something about a fool doing the same thing expecting different results).
My Fitness Pal is free. There is a premium option, but the free version does all that I need and more. There’s also a mobile app, but I haven’t used it. I downloaded it to give it a go, but the free version had too many ads for my liking so I deleted it.
After I signed up for a free account I decided to click around to see what it offered. I customized my account by going through the guided setup. There I filled out my current weight, height and goal weight. I completed the short questionnaire regarding my activity level, number of days I workout and duration. The final question asked about my weekly weight loss goal. I decided a pound a week is a good start. After all, these 20 pounds have been around for about 10 years. No sense in making myself uncomfortable in trying to get rid of them. A pound a week will have me at my goal by the end of the year.
Daily Food Goals
With my profile set, it was time to set up my daily macronutrient goals.
As you can see, based on my current weight and goal weight, the app calculated my daily caloric intake at 1,780 calories. Knowing the calories is nice but I ignore calories. I concentrate instead on the macronutrient balance. Therefore I modified the macronutrients to show my preferred percentages (the Custom Daily Goals indicated in the screenshot is a premium feature so it’s inaccessible). The app also tracks micronutrients, but I’m not interested in that either. I just want the basics.
Entering the Data
With my profile and daily goals set, the rest is all about entering the daily food data. If you choose you could enter your actual fitness routines. Doing so will earn you extra calories daily calories. It’s obvious My Fitness Pal follows the calories in/calories out method of weight loss. I’m not so convinced of that method as I’ve used it for many years, unsuccessfully.
Based on my goals, this is my blank slate:
To this, I begin to enter my daily food intake. I try to enter it shortly after or maybe before I eat. This way I can remember what I ate. Also, since I cook most of my own meals, I find it easier to enter each ingredient to get as accurate an accounting of my intake as I can.
My Fitness Pal has a pretty extensive listing of foods so entering meals isn’t too difficult. It also remembers meals you’ve entered so it’s easy to re-enter things you eat/drink often. For example, I usually have two cups of bulletproof coffee each day. Therefore, when I click “Add Foods” under the Breakfast tab, I see a menu of the foods I’ve had at breakfast.
As you can see from the tabs across the top, you can customize your settings to make data input easier.I haven’t ventured that far as yet, but will explore it.
Once you enter all of your activity for the day, click the “Complete This Entry” button at the bottom of the page and it will store your info. You can always edit, review or run reports if you so choose. Here’s what it looks like when a day is completed.
Below the daily food input chart, there are pie charts so you can graphically see your daily food intake.
I’ve only been using it for a short time, but it does give me a good indication of what I’m eating. In reviewing my first few days I realized my carb intake was much higher than I thought. I wanted to keep it under 20 grams a day, but you can see by the chart, I was way off. After seeing my actual numbers, I started making changes to reign in my carb intake.
Tracking Weight & Measurements
Can’t believe I didn’t mention the weight and measurement tracking feature. When you first begin it’s good to enter your weight and, if you choose, your measurements and update them periodically. This way when you run reports, you get a true sense of the change in your weight and inches. I only track weight. My clothes let me know whether or not I’ve lost/gained inches.
I find My Fitness Pal to be a very helpful tool. It may appear overwhelming at first, but explore one feature at a time. If you’re like me and frustrated with your current weight loss or lack thereof, it’s worth a look see. After all, it’s free.
Oh, and BTW, as with just about every other online app available, there is a social networking aspect to the program. I prefer to use it solely to track what I’m eating so I don’t use the social features. Also, you will note in my screenshots there are green percentage figures displayed beneath the blue totals. That feature is not a part of My Fitness Pal. If you want to see your macronutrient percentages, you need to download the Tapermonkey plugin. I’m using Google Chrome so I’ve added it to Chrome, but it is available for other browsers too. The plugin is easy to install and only takes seconds.
I’ll continue to track my numbers for as long as it takes for me to get solidly on the right path and see the progress I want to see. Ya gotta love the Internet. Many years ago this type of tool would have cost me a bundle. Now I can access such tools for free. I’m glad to have stumbled upon it.
If you happen to give the app a try, stop back and let me know whether or not you found it to be helpful.