I know that tracking calories is not for everyone.
It can be arduous, particularly at the beginning when setting up all your favourite foods,
Some of us just simply can not be bothered or do not really have the time.
The good news is there is more than one way to lose weight.
I did use tracking for quite a while when I first became really lean.
I was introduced to the wonders of flexible dieting by my friend Jonathan Potter.
I found it liberating!
That I could eat the foods I enjoyed, drink beer and consume other things I had previously labelled bad and still lose weight was a revelation to me.
I used My Fitness Pal and I think it is still the most popular app around for tracking calories.
One of the great features is the barcode scanner, if you are eating anything that comes in a packet you can simply scan the barcode to add it to your diary.
If you like to cook your own food, you can set up your own recipes, add in each of the ingredients, using the barcode scanner if you like and then say how many servings this recipe makes;
Then, when you have made the meal, you divide it into servings and add one serving to your diary.
It gets easier and quicker as you build up your list of favourite foods.
If you are going to eat out you will find that there are already a large number of meals from restaurant chains already in the database.
Have a look before you go, if they are not on MFP, then have a look at the restaurant website, more and more are putting their nutrition on their sites.
If you really can not find the restaurant then pick the closest meal you can find.
Bear in mind that, according to a recent study, the average restaurant main meal in the UK is 963 calories.
When having fruit, you will find that most fruits have the calories per ‘average’ fruit.
For vegetables, don’t worry too much about leafy, green vegetables but do be careful to track the more starchy ones like potatoes and squash.
Rice and Pasta can be tricky because a lot of packets give you the calories per ‘portion’ uncooked where MFP often has the calories per cooked portion.
Just check the packet carefully and preferably weigh the rice or pasta raw.
Different varieties will absorb water at different rates anyway so weigh it raw and add the calories as per the pack.
When cooking rice or pasta for more than one person, multiply the raw portion weight and then pay attention when you are dividing the cooked food.
Beware of added fats.
You can add a lot of calories when you add olive oil – at 120 calories per tablespoon!
Measure your fats carefully and accurately – no guessing!
Likewise with other ‘healthy’ foods that are high fat,
such as avocados, nuts and seeds, they are all high in calories.
If you cannot find a food in the database then you can add it.
Always try and put the maximum nutrition information in to help everyone and in turn, try to use foods with detailed breakdown of nutritional information yourself.
Don’t worry too much if you get warnings about salt and sugar – unless you know you are eating a lot of added sugar or salt!
Do pay attention to the fibre recommendations.
Also, when searching for foods, look for the entries with a green tick, they have been verified.