We have always maintained that we don’t want you to count calories as we believe in nourishing the body first, and that calories are secondary. Of course it is important to not overeat, as the body stores the excess energy provided as fat. So while we don’t want you to make a habit of obsessively counting calories, it is vital that you get a feel of which foods are high and which are low in calories.
I decided to test out one of the many apps available specifically for this purpose – the FatSecret App.
Once downloaded and installed, it asks you about your goal: if you want to gain, lose or maintain your weight, your activity level plus some bio data. Based on this, the app gives you a daily calorie goal that you should hit (and not exceed).
I started immediately and was surprised to find every single food that I ate in there – their database seems endless. Okay, some foods I had to break down into its original ingredients which involved a bit more clicks – but in general, I could record all my main meals in seven minutes or less.
Another section records your fitness activities where you also need to hit a calorie goal.This I found to be quite limited as the available selection was too general. For example, the calories you burn in a 15 minute weight training session would depend on how intensive a session it is, but nonetheless, the app gives you a good overview and gauge.
Each time you access the app, it will tell you your progress i.e. how many percent you have hit of your daily target or if you have exceeded it.
Even though it might not be 100% accurate, FatSecret gives you a rough overview and makes you more aware of what you are doing to your body.
Various studies have shown that many of us eat much more than we think we do; we often underestimate the amount of calories and food that we put into our bodies. It is also interesting to see how much we eat from each food group and how certain not-so-good things like sweets can add up.
This experiment was definitely an eye-opening experience for me. My diet consists of a lot of raw vegetables and most of my meals contain some nuts, in one form or another. I tend to snack on nuts too. Although I know they contain a lot of calories, I was still surprised to see how it all added up at the end of the day. On many days, I reached 3000kcal while my recommended calorie amount per day is around 1800kcal – this actually made me realise how much nuts featured in my diet.
After 2 weeks of testing the app, I was glad it was over as I didn’t want to run to my phone after each meal, search for all the ingredients and type them in. I still do it from time to time to see how much calorific a dish that I have created is, but in general I have a good feel for the food that I am putting into my body.
Would I recommend this app? I would, but just for you to get an idea and be more aware of how many calories some foods may contain. Try it out and remember: Don’t count calories, just kind of know them!