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How A Food Journal Helps To Build Muscle

Mar 15, 2008
It's amazing what you'll eat during the course of a day without even realizing it. And then a month or two later, you wonder why you've put on 20 pounds.

Remember that old saying about computer programming "Garbage in equals' garbage out."

The same can be applied to the food that passes your lips. If you take in garbage, you are going to get garbage in return. The garbage in return will be low energy, sickness, disease, and poor overall health.

Have you ever really thought about what you take in as fuel during any given day?

Want to perform a "wake-up call" exercise right now? Sit down and write out all of the food or liquid that has passed through your lips during the past 24 hours.

After you write it out, look at the list and ask yourself if most of what is on that list can be put under the "garbage in equals' garbage out saying?

Often times we are not aware of what it is we are doing until we are forced to confront it. Now is your chance to confront what you are doing to your body.

This is one area that most people have to really take a long and hard look at because it is usually the one area that sabotages any chance to achieving the body you want.

When you find your daily caloric maintenance amount and begin to gradually reduce it, you want to keep a written log of those foods you consume so that you can tally the foods and make sure the total calorie amount is close to that calorie number that you figured.

How can you keep track of your daily calories if you have no idea what they are?

If you figure from the worksheet that someone your age and weight requires 2000 calories to maintain, reducing by 200 calories now brings you to 1800. This is the number you are going to shoot for throughout the day for the next week.

How can you hit that number if you do not know the calorie amounts of certain foods and write them down?

This is a necessary part of the muscle building and weight loss process, but not one you have to continue with forever.

If you want to stop after 30 days or so, that's fine, because you should have a pretty good idea which foods have what amount of calories.

When you have your number, 1800 for example, you must ensure that your daily calorie amount is less than this number. If you go over this number, you are not creating a calorie deficit.

So in your food journal or notebook, at the top of the page, write 1800 calories.

Under that number, write:

Meal 1: Breakfast
Meal 2: snack
Meal 3: Lunch
Meal 4: Snack
Meal 5: dinner
Meal 6: snack

Next to each meal you write the approximate calorie total for each. If you had a couple eggs and toast for breakfast, you would write 220 calories next to "breakfast."

If you had a meal replacement for a snack after breakfast, write down 240, or whatever the amount is, next to snack.

You do this throughout the day. After your last meal, tally up the number and see what your total is.

If it is less than 1800 calories, but not significantly less, pat yourself on the back because progress was made.

If it came back 2500, realize that this is not moving you closer to your goals and understand that you must be more aware of the portions and the types of food you are consuming.

Writing this down makes it crystal clear in terms of what is actually going on versus what you "think" you are eating.

If you are not willing to do this process for a short term, you are probably not willing to stick with any type of workout or nutrition program.

After all, it's hard to figure out if you're consuming too many calories day in and day out if you don't write down what you're eating.

If you are not sure why you are having a hard time losing weight, specifically body fat, than keep a written food journal with you for a month of two. Write down specifically what you eat, the serving or portion size, and the approximate calories in that food. Do this for each and every meal

At the end of the day, tally up the calorie amount you consumed and check it against what your daily calorie amount should be (from above step).

If the number of calories you actually are consuming is always higher than your daily maintenance amount, weight loss will not happen. It simply will not occur unless you are expending enough calories through your exercise to create a calorie deficit.

It's amazing how things can become clarified when you write them down. Many times, we do not know where the calories are coming from and how they are adding up until we document what we ate. That way the proof is on paper.

Do not write down what you wished you had eaten, but rather exactly what you did eat. You need to be real with yourself so that way if there is a problem in your nutrition, you can find it and work to solve it, instead of pretending it does not exist.

Journaling your calories is a simple yet effective way to be sure that the calories you are taking in throughout the day is not more than you need to effectively lose weight.

If you are unsure of how many calories a certain food contains, go to the bookstore and pick up one of the calorie count books or find a website that has the total calorie amount for certain foods.

If you did a search on the Internet for "calorie counts" you would find many sites that have many popular foods listed with the calorie amounts they contain.

This process of writing down all your food consumption is part of taking full and complete responsibility of your current situation, which is a huge part of this process.

I can honestly tell you that the most important step I took while getting in shape for my bodybuilding show was writing down all of my calories for the day.

It took all of the guesswork out of figuring if I had eaten too many calories for a certain meal or how many calories I could consume at night. When the numbers are staring back at you on paper, it is very hard to make a mistake and continuously eat more calories than you should.

Does this mean that you are stuck writing calories for the rest of your life?

Of course not. We as human beings often repeat the same behavior and do the same things. This means that we will often eat the same foods throughout the course of the days, weeks, and months.

By process of association and repetition, you will soon know that this food has X amount of calories and that food has Y amount.

So as you begin to eat some of the same foods, you will know off the top of our head how many calories certain foods have and this makes the process of figuring and staying under your daily maintenance amount much easier.

Keep a written log of what you eat and when you eat. At the end of the day, check to see how close you came to hitting your calorie goals.

Soon, you'll have a good idea just how many calories you need each day to reach your goals.
About the Author
Want a simple, proven program that guarantees you'll see more results in less time? Check out "Simple Steps To Get Huge And Shredded" from personal trainer Shawn Lebrun:
Simple Steps To Get Huge And Shredded"
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