Stop estimating, write it down

Posted on April 7, 2011. Filed under: Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , |

I have already mentioned the importance of keeping a food journal once.


And guess what?  I’m going to keep on doing it till the word is spread far and wide.  I do not know of a single person with worthwhile results in any form of fitness who did so without keeping track of their eating habits at one point and time.


I am jot saying you have to keep one forever, but if you expect to see dramatic results in 3 months, 6 months, 6 weeks, you must know what is going into your body.  I’ve even had clients see results in less than two weeks.


In those cases the client was 100% committed and followed my guidelines to a T.  Mainly because she had no choice, and over the last 3 months had been spinning her wheels without me.  But that is usually how it goes.


It is just too difficult to  see results without some sort of measured tracking.  when you estimate you are just going to be loose with your figures.  which in turn results in a very . . loose looking figure.


Partly this is the fault of the fitness industry.  There is so much confusion out there.  Take for example this study someone told me about.

Willbond SM, Laviolette MA, Duval K, Doucet E. Normal weight men and womenoverestimate exercise energy expenditure. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010Dec;50(4):377-84


Subjects were tested for VO2 max and then put through two different exercise bouts at 50% of VO2 peak or about 65% max heart rate; this was done after they were all given a standardized breakfast meal.


The two different exercise bouts were measured (via indirect calorimetry) to burn either 200 or 300 calories and the women were tested a month apart to standardize for menstrual cycle.


The exercise done was walking and the subjects were prevented from knowing how long they had walked (no clocks or watches could be seen) or having any way of knowing how many calories they had burned.


Following each exercise session, subjects were asked to estimate how many calories they had burned, an hour later (after a shower) they were asked to consume food from a buffet type meal corresponding to their estimated exercise energy expenditure.


For the 200 calorie exercise bout, the estimated energy expenditures, that is what subjects thought they burned, ranged from 120 to 4000 calories.  No, I’m not kidding,  4000 calories.


For the 300 calorie exercise bout, the range was 150 to 3000 calories.  Take a moment and let that absorb, for  30-45 minutes of brisk walking some of the study subjects thought they burned 3000-4000 calories.


As I have explained before.  at best most people burn 200-500 calories during a workout.  Majority I estimate fall into the 300 range.  This is based on the simple fact in order to burn 500 calories in a single workout, you have to be at a pretty solid intensity, and most people are not healthy enough to maintain such a level.  At least not in the beginning stages.


This is where a lot of folks get in to trouble in regards to getting in shape.  And it’s a cruel joke when you see these advertisements telling people they will burn 700-1000 calories with their super special workout DVD or class.


So you have two-pronged approach limiting people from seeing results.


One they think they are burning more calories than they actually are during their workout.  And two, without tracking their calories they have no idea how much they are really taking in.


I will say this again, and again.  In order to improve you must have some form of measurement.  Stop estimating, and write it down.  I’m glad you enjoy your Zumba, or CrossFit, or whatever your chosen form of exercise.  But it does not give you an excuse to not track and improve your eating habits.



Best Health,

Coach W


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