Where we get fit and spin (wool)

One of my clients is trying to lose weight, tells me she is doing all the right things, yet isn’t getting results. Now I’m going to say something that flies in the face of what we’d like to hear. Diets do work, and the math doesn’t lie.

However.

Knowing how many calories you are eating is not easy. Knowing nutritional content is even harder. Staying on top of all this and not getting lazy or discouraged is even harder. I use tracking software, Myfitnesspal, and I play around with Fooducate. Even with that kind of help, it is very hard to get accurate answers. Either you have to spend a lot of time putting in every recipe, or you cheat and use someone else’s, which may or may not be close, and then you have to either measure the amounts you ate or guesstimate. User added information is not always reliable, and it doesn’t show the ingredients or amounts of mixed dishes like tuna salad. My fitness pal has a REALLY cool feature now where you can put the URL of the recipe you used and it puts it all in. However, that only works if you are using an online recipe. My recipes usually consist of

  1. What is in the house this minute.
  2. What might taste good together, or at least not be gross.
  3. Trying to follow a recipe, but seeing changes that might be good.

Still, that feature will make things a lot easier, because I can find a recipe that’s really close to what I made and get a more accurate log.

Outside of trying to help my client, it was really bugging me that my mineral content on Myfitnesspal was really low. While I do know that some of the user entries don’t include anything beyond calories, or possibly macronutrients, I didn’t think it was that far off.  I questioned the Nutrition Diva, and she suggested that it was inaccurate user data. I looked back and saw many things had no mineral content, and I know the items I had listed had some, so I’m assuming she’s right.  This reinforces the knowledge that unless you have access to a really sound database, and are diligent about measuring and logging, your information will always be vague.

Which brings me to my next point. We all have to be as dedicated as possible to eating whole, nutrient dense, minimally processed foods. This means fruits and veggies, dairy, lean meats and fish, legumes, nuts and seeds and whole grains. Don’t comment, I do realize that grains are seeds. A cracker is usually not a whole grain. A whole grain is one that resembles the seed as it grew. If we eat like that, with most of our plate being veggies, and everything else in smaller amounts, keep the bread to 1-2 servings a day, treat full fat items as condiments, and keep added sugar out as much as possible, we can cover what our tracking is missing.

To illustrate, I have the info for a Ritz Cracker. What does it have, besides calories and fat?

NUTRITION FACTS for a Ritz Cracker

Serving size 5 crackers (16g)
Value
Calories 80 Kcal
Calories from Fat 40 Kcal
Total Fat 4.5 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 105 mg
Total Carbohydrate 10 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 1 g
Protein 0.25 g
Vitamin A 0 IU
Vitamin C 0 mg
Calcium 20 mg
Iron 0.36 mg

Even my beloved Triscuits, yes, some fiber and protein, paired with more calories, although if you notice, a serving of Triscuits is almost twice as much food, for only 1/3 more calories.

NUTRITION FACTS for a Triscuit

Serving size 6 crackers (28g)
Value
Calories 120 Kcal
Calories from Fat 35 Kcal
Total Fat 4 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 180 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 3 g
Vitamin A 0 IU
Vitamin C 0 mg
Calcium 0 mg
Iron 1.44 mg

Now lets see a carrot:

NUTRITION FACTS

Serving size 1 carrot, 100g
Value
Calories 41 Kcal
Total Fat 0.3 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 88 mg
Total Carbohydrate 12 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Sugars 6 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A 21384 IU
Vitamin C 8 mg
Calcium 42 mg
Iron 0 mg

Grains give us energy (calories) and they taste good, but the above illustrates why they should only take up a quarter of your meal. For half the calories of the Ritz, in a carrot you get twice the calcium, 4 times the amount of fiber, pretty much your whole days worth of vitamin a, less salt and half the carbs. Pair the carrots with homemade humus and you’ll have a snack that will last all afternoon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t ever eat a Triscuit, just realize when you are hungry and trying to lose weight, vegetables and fruit are your best friends. You do need the calories from grains, and as long as they are whole grains, you are getting good stuff from them. Ritz are off my list, first, they have transfats- if it says hydrogenated oil on the label, it has transfats- there is a label loophole that lets them say 0 grams. Second, they are much more processed than Triscuits, no fiber or protein to speak of, plus more sugar.  Still Wasa rye crisps are far better than either of the other cracker choices, but I have to admit, for Americans it’s a bit of a stretch. No fat. How do they make them stick together?

Brilliant facts

Whole grain rye flour, Salt

Nutrition facts

Serving size: 2 Slice (18g)
Servings per container: about 15

Nutritional information
Per Serving (%Daily Value)
Calories  60
Total Fat 0g (0%)
Saturated Fat 0g (0%)
Trans fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg (0%)
Sodium 70mg (3%)
Total Carbohydrate 14g (5%)
Dietary Fiber 3g (12%)
Sugars 0g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0%
Iron 2%
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