Something that I have found very helpful in the process of losing my baby weight and getting back in shape is tracking what I eat using an app names ‘Lifesum’. I first heard about this app on social media and I have also seen various fitness Vloggers that I follow on YouTube talking about it. I decided to download it and give it a go.
It works it basically the same way as ‘MyFitnessPal’ although having used the free versions of both of these apps I personally prefer ‘Lifesum’ for it’s ease of use and features. The app allows you to calculate your daily calorie needs based on you entering information such as height, weight, activity levels and goals etc. By goals I mean whether you are looking to lose weight, maintain weight or gain weight by building muscle. Obviously if your goal is to lose weight then your body needs to be in a slight calorie deficit (so you are eating less calories than your body would need to stay the current weight that it is) and if you to gain weight/muscle then your body would need to be in a calorie surplus. The app also allows you to track your macros (macro nutrients; carbohydrates, fats and protein. I will be doing a future post on how to calculate you own personal macros at a later date). You can also enter in the exercise that you do to see how many calories you will have burned through doing it and if you have an app on your phone that counts the steps you take during the day (eg the Health app on iphones) you can synchronise that with Lifesum and it will take those into account and give you more calories to play with. You can also set it so that any exercise/steps do not increase your daily calorie allowance if you prefer.
You enter the foods that you eat by either searching for them or you can scan the bar codes on the packaging. I find it helpful to have weighing scales so that you can weigh out the amount of a food you are eating and ensure the information you are entering is accurate. I personally only use the free version of the app which is a little more basic than the paid version. I believe that on the paid version you can track the vitamin and mineral content of foods. It also includes plans that you can follow based on goals and recipe ideas etc.
Why it works for me
I think that tracking has really educated me in terms of how many calories certain foods really contain. I think I had a tendency to under estimate calorie content and would therefore end up consuming more calories than I needed, Lifesum stops me doing this. Once you have a better idea of how many calories the foods you eat contain you can then better control your portion sizes. I know it sounds obsessive but weighing out snacks like nuts/dried fruit etc into portion sizes makes sure you are eating too much of them. It’s easy to over indulge in the snacks that we consider to be ‘healthy’ and then not realise why our weight isn’t changing or is going up when we think we are following a healthy diet. Often a ‘portion’ of a food is much smaller than we think it is. Tracking helps to prevent over-eating and once you have tracked for a while you get the hang of things and it makes it easier to eat ‘intuitively’ without the app. I also like the way the app allows you to alter and track your macros. Individual macro nutrient breakdown is based on activity levels and goals eg if you want to build muscle you might have a higher percentage of protein in the diet. The app ensures that you are not just eating enough calories but that the calories that you do consume are not ’empty’ calories and are providing enough protein, carbohydrates and good fats. It also helps you learn what foods are high in protein/ fat etc.
I also believe that tracking also helps me stick to my healthy eating for example if I have had a moment of weakness and scoffed an entire pack of digestives in the gap between breakfast and lunch, then aslong as I enter this into the app (HONESTLY) the app will track it and tell me how many calories I have left for the day. By then having a lighter lunch and dinner I can potentially ‘salvage’ the day. I might still end up over on fats but I can potentially not go over on calories. You can also enter meal data in advance so if you know what you are having for breakfast and you have prepped a meal for lunch if you enter this in then you know how many calories/amount of fat etc you have left to play with for the day and you can tailor your snacks and dinner accordingly.
Tracking food requires a bit of trial and error and you may need to make alterations if your goals/ activity levels change. The app calculates calorie intake based on science but everybody is different and it might take a couple of weeks or so following the apps opinion of what calories you need and then you might want to adjust them. It’s easy enough to do that, if you aren’t losing any weight and that is your goal take off 50 or so calories per day, it’s not a lot but the last thing you want to do is take off too many, mess up your metabolism and end up bingeing because your body is over hungry. The same applies if you start losing weight too quickly maybe add on some calories. The app also doesn’t take into account nursing mothers, so if like me you are breastfeeding you will probably need to play around with calories that you are consuming. I can eat a LOT more than I would be able to if I wasn’t nursing and it’s taken me a while to adjust my calories intake to ensure I am eating enough to exercise, produce milk, build muscle and maintain my weight (that’s my goal). I would say that if you are breastfeeding then to overestimate your calories then adjust from there. In my experience it has been perfectly fine to lose all the baby weight (I am now lighter that I was pre-baby) and still be able to breastfeed. Having your body at a slight calorie deficit is unlikely to effect milk supplies.
The app also motivates you to do more exercise, because you have the option to add any calories that you have burned into what you have left to consume you can effectively ‘earn’ extra calories for the day by doing a workout or going for a long walk. Ideally if you are looking to lose weight exercise is a part of your everyday routine anyway, but if it’s not it’s a good incentive to get your activity levels up. An app isn’t something that is going to work for everyone but if you are looking to lose a bit of weight healthily then it might be a helpful tool to try. And because it is free you don’t really have anything to lose and it can be deleted if you don’t like it. Do you use apps to track what you eat already? What are your tips for sticking to healthy eating?
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