Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tracking Food and Protein Consumption

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Nutmeg got a haircut last Friday, so we took a few beauty shots. She was also complaining about not being on the blog much lately, so before I get to talking about food tracking, here are a few snapshots.

Lately, I've been getting quite a few Tweets and e-mails about protein and nutrition, much of which is directly related to being a vegetarian. Many people wonder if you can get enough protein day-to-day without consuming meat, and the answer is, yes! I've done a few protein posts in the past (found here and here), but I thought that today I would show you a handy little tool that I've been using over the past couple of months that has transformed the way I track food intake. 

I discovered My Fitness Pal a few months ago after searching for an online tool that would allow me to enter my daily eats. Every now and again I found myself writing down what I ate during the day or running a mental tally of the number of fruits and vegetables I consumed, the calories taken in, protein eaten. Instead of jotting this information down on slips of paper (which ended up in the trash) and calculating the information by hand, I wanted the ability to search a database for ingredients and record my eats all in one place.

Here's a look at what a typical entry looks like for me...

The site makes it incredibly easy to track everything you eat, with a huge database full of ingredients. You also have the option of adding in your own items if you can't find them in the database or enter something by calories alone if that's all the information you know about it. 

Once your information is all entered for the day, you are left with a little summary like this...

You probably noticed that I came out in the negative (meaning I had too much) for all the categories (daily calorie intake, protein, carbs, and fat), which is because I underestimated my daily exercise when setting up the program. I should probably adjust that sometime soon to be more reflective of what I actually need/expend. 

And the protein? As you can see, today I got a whopping 82 grams of protein! I love being able to see all the interesting places the protein comes from. Obviously there was a good deal of protein in the veggie burger I ate at lunch, which is expected. But it goes to show that other, smaller sources of protein really add up. A little Greek yogurt, some black beans, a whole wheat tortilla, and peanut butter, of course! 

I want to make it clear that I do not use this site as a weight loss tool (though if you have weight you want to lose, you certainly could), but rather a way to check in a couple times a week to make sure I'm consuming enough fat and protein and eating a variety of foods.

So that's that! Protein, food tracking and all. How do you guys stay on track? Do you have a food journal or an online system that you use?

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