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A Useful Muscle Building/Weight Loss Tool

June 26, 2009


If you know the number of calories or the amount of food you take in to maintain your weight, you will be able to add to your calories if you want to add muscle, and take away calories if you want to become leaner and lose fat.

There are many methods of calorie counting that you can do at home. For example, there are software programs into which you can enter the foods you eat; you can actually weigh your food and calculate your caloric intake with fairly close accuracy (we’ll cover this method in a future post); and there’s the method we will discuss in this post — using a food journal.
A plain notebook with or without lines is great for a journal.

Keeping a food journal isn’t really calorie counting, but rather just keeping a log of the food you eat…ALL of it. That includes EVERYTHING that goes into your mouth and into your stomach. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, snacks, all non-water drinks or drinks that have more than 0 calories, chewing gum, condiments, that handful of peanuts you ate while passing the time at your desk, the peppermint out of the candy bowl at work — everything.

Keep the journal for a month or more and weigh yourself once per week. Then make adjustments to your future food intake based upon your past food intake and your body composition goals. If your weight remains constant, then you will know that the amount of food you recorded in your journal is an amount that equals your calorie expenditure. If you gained fat, then go back through your journal to find places where you could reduce your food intake a bit. If you lost fat (1 to 2 lbs per week is ideal) and that was your aim, then all is well. If you wanted to gain muscle but did not AND you didn’t gain any fat, then increase your caloric intake a bit (these examples assume you are exercising regularly). Use a skin caliper to determine if you’ve lost or gained muscle and/or fat.

A food journal relies on the fact that we humans are creatures of habit. We generally eat foods that we know and are used to. So once you’ve recorded your food over some time period (e.g. a month), you’ll have a good idea of what your eating habits are and how much food it takes for your body to maintain itself. Use this knowledge to your advantage.

Darryl

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