One thing that has been shown over and over about nutrition research is that people have difficulty accurately estimating how many calories they consume, and how much protein, fat, and carbs they consume. It is one factor that makes retrospective nutrition research studies very difficult to interpret.
There are many different types of diets that either minimize one of the macronutrients, like low fat, or low carb, keto, paleo, Atkin’s, low protein, vegan, or diets that advocate moderate ratios of macros such as the mediterranean diet, the zone, or low glycemic index, or diets that limit specific foods such as FODMAP. Whichever kind of diet you may be experimenting with, or if you are trying to gain weight, gain muscle, or simply maintain the body weight you have, it is always beneficial to have a good idea of what you are eating.
I find that some nutrient calculator websites are tedious and annoying. How much is 100g of potatoes?? So I decided to make myself an easy reference chart with some common foods I eat. I weighed a lot of food and figured out normal portion sizes and then figured out the protein, carbs, fat and fiber for each thing. It is now very handy for everyone in the house to have a quick look at the chart and have an idea of how much of each macro they are eating. I have added a download button below in case you would like to download it.
Another idea is to add up the macros for some common meals you eat on a regular basis and then you don’t have to calculate every time. After you use the chart for a week or so you will start to have many foods memorized and then you will always have a general idea of what you are eating and where you might need to add or reduce a bit of something.
Also, here is a good website for calculating your metabolic rate. How many calories do you need per day to maintain your body weight? To lose weight? If you want to lose weight I would suggest a calorie deficit of no more than 500 calories per day and you could do this by exercising and burning 250 calories (jumping rope for 10 min can burn 130 calories for example), and eat 250 calories less, which could be as simple as putting less butter or cheese or sugar in/on foods. Small changes can amount to large benefits over time!
Fun Fact: As we get older our metabolism natural slows down and we don’t need to eat as many calories as when we were younger. The main reasons people gain weight as they get older are:
1. They keep eating the same portion sizes
2. They are less physically active
Note about burning calories. There are many factors that affect how many calories a person burns. Let’s look at 2 extremes:
Fred – 25 year old, healthy, male, athlete could require 3500 calories per day to maintain body weight.
Betsy – 55 year old, healthy, female, low activity level would only require about 1500 per day.
Also, various factors affect how many calories each activity would burn for different people. Fit people actually burn fewer calories for the same exercise as unfit people because their body adapts and becomes more efficient. Take activity calorie burning information with a grain of salt.