Setting & tracking calorie limits.

In order to use this diet, you will need a calorie journal.  You can do it manually, of course, but that is the hard way, requiring calculations* and calorie charts.  There are lots of free utilities online that will do nearly all the work for you. Don't be afraid of journaling! It's not so bad, I promise. (more on that in a minute)

Online Tools
Time to either stop eating for the day or  hop on the treadmill!
I use MyPlate and the instructions and screenshots I give here will relate to that site. It's free, and their database is really extensive.  There's a mobile version for your iphone or ipod touch as well.

Sparkpeople is another popular online tracker that's free.

It would be easy to adapt my system to work with Weight Watchers points system (just track points instead of calories, and follow the guidelines of getting lean protein at every meal, eating lots of veggies, and add flaxseed to your diet). I have a great deal of respect for WW and it's the only online tool I'd ever pay to use.

Why do you need a tracker and what can it do for you?

An online tracker will easily set your calorie goals and update them
for you as you lose weight.
1) Set your calorie goal. Input your age, weight, activity level, and weight loss goal and your tracker will calculate the calories you need.  Another important feature: MyPlate never forgets to update my calorie goal as I lose weight. I don't enjoy having to trim 30 calories off my day because I lost 4 pounds, but it beats hitting a frustrating plateau because I forgot to make the adjustment.  TIP: Enter your activity level as 'sedentary' unless you really have a very physical job. You'll be tracking your workouts & physical activities separately.


2) Look things up BEFORE you eat them. Most packaged foods & restaurant foods are in the database, so it's easy to check on things, as well as several versions of most homemade foods. This makes it really easy to test out different scenarios, research a restaurant, etc. before you decide what to eat. You can also figure out how to modify or include your favorite foods in your diet... like maybe you'll discover that you can still enjoy those two slices of pizza for lunch if you're willing to switch to thin crust and choose a leaner topping! TIP: Since a lot of foods are entered by users, there are some mistakes. Look over the calorie counts & check that they seem correct. For instance, I started to put in 'chicken breast, roasted, skinless' the other day and most of the listings had about 1.5 grams of fat but one listing showed 11.5.


At Applebee's & wanting some steak? Salad's the best diet choice, right?
Ummm... not so much :(  Good thing you looked it up!
Guess where on this graph I stopped messing around
and started journalling my food?
2) Journal everything you eat. If you bite it, you write it. Studies have shown over and over that people who journal what they eat lose weight and people who don't journal don't lose. It's that simple. Certainly that's been my experience! It seems like a major hassle at first, but it's really not so bad once you get used to it, especially if you're usually near a computer or have a smartphone you can use (if not, you can carry a small notebook, jot things down, and enter them later). Journalling keeps you aware of what you're eating and keeps you focused. You'll learn so much about your usual food choices and how to modify them. Eventually, when you've lost weight and just want to maintain, you'll be able to carry forward what you've learned... but you may return to your journalling when you find pounds creeping back on. TIP: Always in life your results will match up with how you spend your time and effort. Want weight loss results? Spend some time being focused on it. Journalling, looking up things you want to eat that fit the diet, etc — as well as working out! — represent focused time spent that will get you the results you want. Don't want to spend time on it? Then you don't really want it.


2) Watch your calorie percentages. Every time you eat & journal, take a look at where your calories are coming from. Keep that protein % above 25 at all times. I like to pre-load my day with a really high-protein breakfast or lunch, lots of egg whites or lean meat, because I find my carb counts want to creep up during the later part of the day.




3) Track your workouts. Your calorie tracker should have an extensive database of specific exercises, as well as generic categories like 'weightlifting-moderate.' TIP: I find these calorie expenditures to be on the high side, as much as double what I feel I've expended, especially for dance and yoga classes where lots of time goes into warmup, cooldown and instruction. I usually cut my exercise times in half for tracking purposes.

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*to set your calorie count manually, you could use
The Harris-Benedict formula to determine your maintenance calories
Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 X wt in kg) + (5 X ht in cm) - (6.8 X age in years)
Women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 X wt in kg) + (1.8 X ht in cm) - (4.7 X age in years)

Then for each pound you want to lose, subtract 500 calories per day. (there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat) Be warned, though, that this method doesn't account for body composition and is most accurate for people who are already at ideal weights. It tends to underestimate calorie counts for the very muscular and overestimate counts for people with more body fat. Personally, I find the MyPlate calculator  under 'calorie goals' to be spot on and easy to use.