What exactly are you eating?

by FitnessMantra on May 16, 2006

Last week I wrote about the Golden Rule of Fitness Mantra and how it’s possible to estimate the daily calorific needs depending on your specifiic situation.

Today I’ll show you how to actually find out how many calories are in the foods you prepare and how to estimate a daily intake value. What if I told you that today morning I had a breakfast with a nutrition content as follows?

breakfast-nutrvalue

Further, I could also tell you that my breakfast had this calorific ratio among the major macronutrients:

breakfast-calratio

If you had this kind of information for every kind of food you prepared and ate wouldn’t it go a long way in helping you achieve your fitness goals? Of course it would and you can have it for free!

How? Look closely at the bottom of the first image – see that website address? It is http://www.nutritiondata.com and this site is one of the main supporting pillars of Fitness Mantra. Why? Because in the world of fitness, knowledge is indeed power and knowing where your calories are coming from (and even better: what type of calories they are) is priceless information – and thanks to NutritionData, that data is indeed “price-less” – it’s free.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to use the site to get nutrition information relevant to you.

The information I posted today is for a whole grain bread-peanut butter and blueberry sandwich (an excellent combination bringing together the fiber in whole grain bread, the protein-and-good-fat in peanut butter and the anti-oxidant powers in blueberries).

Steps:

  1. Go to http://www.NutritionData.com
  2. Click on Tools->Nutrient Search Tool. In the top right, choose “Baked Products” in the first drop-down and “whole wheat bread” in the second and then click on the “Food Search” button. From the results, I chose “Bread, whole-wheat, commercially prepared”. You can experiment with different searches to find a narrower match.
  3. Similarly find peanut butter (for some reason this is under Legumes & Legume products – I would have thought it would be under Nut and Seed products) and blueberries (rightly under Fruit and Fruit Juices). If you are unsure about the Food Category, just choose “All food categories” and go ahead and search for your food – you should still find it (although it might show up under multiple categories in various forms and you then have to choose the right one).
  4. Once you find an ingredient you use, click on it to go the nutrient page for that ingredient. For example, here is the page for “Bread, whole-wheat, commercially prepared”.
  5. Click on the “Add to Pantry” link. This will add it to the list of ingredients in your online “pantry”. Continute to do this for all your ingredients.
  6. Now it’s time to make a recipe! Simply choose the right quantities of each ingredient, type in a name for this recipe (like “breakfast – peanut butter + blueberry sandwich”) at the bottom and click the “Analyse Recipe” button.
  7. Presto! You have a complete nutrition factsheet for your recipe!

You may need to play around a little with the site to get the hang of it. I feel it’s not as intuitive as it could have been, but then you cannot beat it for the price you are paying (or not paying!). There is also no way to save it on the website, but thankfully you can export your recipes. One good thing is the recipes are stored in a browser cookie, so as long as you don’t clear your cookies and use the same machine regularly, you should see your recipes the next time you visit the site. Remember to take frequent exports just in case (the export is nothing but a link sent to your email – clicking that link will import your recipe into your browser).

Here is the nutrition information for my Peanut Butter,Blueberry sandwich and import link for this recipe (it says 3 slices of bread because the slice-size of my bread loaf is slightly larger and I use only 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or 0.5 of 2 tablespoons) – remember always customise the recipe to represent the right quantities.
Use the comments link below in case you have questions about this post/site or just want to leave feedback. Remember you can always email me at fitnessmantra[at]gmail[dot]com.

Go ahead – find out exactly what (and how much) you are eating. Then fine tune your foods to fit your specific calorie needs.

Fitness is a way of life and if we make it a part of our daily routine by making choices always then we won’t even notice it.

[tags] health, fitness, calorie, nutrition[/tags]

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