T Nation

Tracking Food Intake

I’m looking for some advise on an easy way to
calculate daily calories, protein, carbs and fats. I know there are books out that will show
the different nutrients in most food groups, but it can take some time to total up six or seven meals, and then break them down to make
sure that you got your proper amount of calories, protein, carbs. So how do you guys do it on a regular basis?

The exact way you said above. I won’t lie, it’s a royal pain in the ass when you start. After a while though, you start becoming more familiar with what each food’s values are and you don’t have to look up as much in your book. Time consuming but time well spent if you want results.

I use an Excel spreadsheet. I began being an uptight, anal, bodybuilding bastard, loggin every damn thing that I put in my mouth, last summer. As I encounter new foods, I add them to the database. I do daily counts using a format that is similar to what John Parrillo advocates in his Nutrition program, and they’re called StatTrack Sheets. It’s pretty neat the way I developed it. Basically I have seven to eight meal slots, and I just cut and paste the foods I am going to eat. I calculate calories and percentages for each meal, as well as for the entire day. This way I can plan out my nutrition days in advance or minutes before I eat. It’s very convenient and after you get the hang of it, you can just copy and paste entire meals (then it’s just a matter of fixing them). Of course, there are nutrition programs you can purchase. However, there are a ton of food databases on the Net that you can use as well. I guess for some it could really be a pain and too much trouble, but then I might question their integrity and priorities.

Man Timbo. That’s exactly what I do. I thought I was the only one that was that anal. I even have all the formulas built into the spreadsheet to determine my daily caloric needs.

Big Willy Style…that’s some crazy stuff, no? I’ve been punching my daily intake in for a while now. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Yes, I’m anal, but I can’t say that I would do it any other way. Keep up the great, diligent work, pal!

Timbo. A couple of weeks ago you may remember talking it up with Teddy about getting back on track and J. giving the T-brother some thanks for help with his own slump. Well, it’s still going well, back on track and kicking ass (changed my name, too many J’s on here :wink: So question: I use Excel too but I don’t have the data base set up. How’d you do that? Greast program when you have all the formulas programmed in eh? Stay strong T-bro

What you want is a computer program under the name of Nutriquest distributed by WCB/McGraw-Hill. It’s pretty quick and easy to use, and damn impressive! - Definately worth it.

On Sunday, I cook up enough food for the entire week. I eat the same crap the entire week, for the same meal. Yes it is boring as hell, but that way, I only have to count, measure, weight once a week.

Timbo and Will I’m part of the anal group too. I do the same thing with an Excel spreadsheet, food database, formulas and cutting and pasting meals. It’s kind of a pain at the beginning but once you get used to it it’s not too bad. I use it to preplan a whole week’s menu, complete with a shopping list of things I need to buy for the coming week.

I have been using a program I downloaded called ProTrack99. I downloaded it off of the Global Health and Fitness website. It is available commercially as well. I have the info at home on my other computer if anyone is interested. It works great. It has programs to track your workouts, your body comp/measyrements and daily intake. It had a crapload of exercises and food already on it and you can add your own as well.

Timbo et al: you guys inspire. I deeply respect this kind of commitment.

MAW, I want to share my current method. You could use it as a way to ease into a more exhaustive record of your diet. It’s still work – there’s no way around weighing and measuring – but this approach requires a little less time, preparation, and recording.

I bought a small, magnetic dry erase board, and I put it on my refrigerator. For every meal, I record the time I ate, what I ate, the total calories, and the protein count. I place the totals of each day in a column to the right. So by the end of the month, I’ve got a list of entries that reads, for example, Wed 3 - 15 / 4120 / 278 / 6. The 4120 = total calories, 278 = total grams of protein, and 6 = number of feedings. At the end of each month, I enter these figures into Excel and graph them out.

With only this data, I can tabulate some critical numbers – my average calories per day, my average protein per day, and the average number of meals per day. And it quickly becomes clear that, to even budge averages like this, you really need to stay focused and honest. For example, my average number of calories per day in January was 3012, and in February it climbed to 3545. (Note Berardi’s influence.) My average number of meals per day rose from 5.9 to 6.1 – a seemingly insignificant shift that actually reflects a determined effort to eat more frequently. I’ll say it again – averages are brutal.

Now the weaknesses here are self-evident. For example, 4120 calories of WHAT!? My small dry erase board holds about six days of specific information., and then, once the totals are entered in the side column, the details are wiped away. But I’m not without some insight. I’ve got my protein totals for each day, multiplied by four calories per gram, and that can be subtracted from total calories. From there, I know I average about 20 percent fat intake – time has proven this to me – and the rest are carbs. Beyond that, simple carbs are generally confined to the post-workout drink, and the rest are mostly complex carbs.

Of course, my passion for detail rebels at all of this. And when I want to get below 7.5 % BF, I use a method similar to Timbo’s. But for seasons of hypertrophy, this works for me. And when it’s combined with my no-brain bachelor menu, which is as unchanging as my T-shirt, it tells me what I need to know. This averaging method keeps me honest over the long haul. Homeostasis yields to extended vigilance, not daily details, fits and starts.

Steve-O…I like the way you work it, No Diggity. I really like the idea of the graphing and critically examining all the work you put into it. This, I feel is my downfall. I bust my ass to keep track of everything (and cook and train too:-) but I don’t think I pay quite the attention and evaluate my nutrition tracking stats. I guarantee that if I implement some of the small things that you have mentioned (graphing, averaging, etc) I could make some honest assessments and some very critical adjustments. Thanks, Steve, for the compliments and opening up my peepers. I’m going to go the distance now…it takes a lot of time to track all this stuff, so why not use it and evaluate it.

Hey, I’m really impressed by your desire to track your calories and all that but what do you do when your away from home? I use a website that lets me put in all my foods with the amounts and it graphs out all the ratios and can even show what you’ve been doing for your diet over several weeks or months. The advantage being that if for some reason I’m going to be away from my computer(i.e. withou excel) I can just go to the web site, with any computer just about anywhere in the world and still be able to punch in my calories. Obviously I can’t give out any web addresses to these sites, but if you go look on yahoo or a similar search engine, they usually list these sites. Its a good alternative when traveling.