Accuracy is everything!

A plan is only any good if you carry it out – much like a map is only any good if you can read it and follow it. 

So if you have a plan to hit a certain weight, by a certain date, by eating a certain number of calories each day, it’s important that you are sticking to them like glue. There will be things that come up, that you need to adjust and adapt to, and adapt you must, if you want to hit those weekly goals.


A Good Guess?

We often talk about making simple changes to effect lifestyle change, but with the warning, that this alone won’t guarantee weight loss. If we want to absolutely 100% guarantee that you will lose weight week on week, we must track our calories, and most importantly track them accurately.

If we are the sort of person that has always had a problem with overeating, to the point where we are gaining weight, it might be a safe assumption to make that we aren’t very good at guessing what might be the right portion size and therefore the right calories for us.

Some people are really lucky and just seem to be able to reduce their portion sizes, eat ‘healthy’ foods and succeed at this game – but then there are a lot of people that can’t do that too. If this is you, then read on.

If you are one of those people, then there is only one thing to do – that is to stop guessing and get accurate. It might seem boring but if you want success, you are going to have to do it, at least for a short time, until your eyes get used to what your new portions look like or until you develop a quick way of measuring things out.

Where it could all go wrong!

We have done a little research into where we might make mistakes into the difference in calories, when we miscalculate our portion sizes.

We are all guilty of this, I know I am at times, but if we are on track for a specific goal, we have to get honest and most importantly accurate with our calorie tracking.  This makes us truly accountable to ourselves and gives us the best chance at succeeding at weight loss.

Pasta – 60g – standard portion213 calories Nuts – 25g portion pack156 calories
Pasta – free poured or handfuls – 100g?356 calories Nuts – a good handful from a bigger bag (100g?)640 calories
Medium baked potato (173g)161 calories Orange Juice – 150ml – recommended portion64 calories
Large baked potato (299g)279 calories Orange juice – 1/2 a pint121 calories
Cereal – 30g – standard portion107 calories Doritos – 30g – standard bag149 calories
Cereal – free poured – 60g?214 calories Doritos – 1/4 of a share bag223 calories
Cheese – 30g portion125 calories Mince beef – 125g – standard portion155 calories
Cheese – a couple of extra grates of the block for luck! (50g?)208 calories Mince beef – 166g – difference between making a portion of something for 4 people and using the same amount to serve to 3 people206 calories

It’s easy to make those little slips, when we are free pouring pasta into the pan, the cereal into the bowl, or when we suddenly have one less at a mealtime (because we can’t waste it!).  But all those little slips will add up… so we need to find a way of controlling them.

The best way to control your portion sizes is obviously to weigh things. Which might seem like a chore at first, but you will soon get used to what your new portion sizes looks like, or find an easier way to measure. Maybe using a small tea cup to measure cereal, or just a sprinkle on the bottom of the bowl.

Using pre-packed portions of things like dried fruit and nuts or other snacks is a great way to stop the endless dipping into the bigger share bag. We have even had members using pre-packaged small pots of jam, to make sure they know what they are eating.

Under-reporting and over estimating

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) carried out a study in 2018, to look into how people report the amount of calories that they consume, and whether it accurately reflects actual calorie consumption.

The reason for this study was to understand why generally reports of calorie consumption were reducing, but the population’s weight, and incidences of overweight and obesity, was increasing. So there had to be a reason why. And it couldn’t just be that we were less active as a nation, because the drop in energy expenditure, did not equate to the rate of weight gain in the general population.

This study found that on average British people under estimate the amount of calories consumed, and actually take in 50% more than they think they do. In the ONS study 4000 people reported calorie consumption as part of a diet survey and it revealed some interesting findings.

  • Men reported consuming 2065 calories a day on average, but actual consumption was 3119 – They ate 51% more calories than they reported consuming.
  • Women reported consuming 1570 calories a day on average, but actual consumption was 2393 – They ate 52% more calories than they reported consuming.
  • Obese and overweight people under estimated their calorie consumption by a greater proportion than those who were a healthy weight, although there was still under-reporting in this sector. Which kind of agrees with our assertion that if we are big, we perhaps aren’t that good at guessing our calories.

We also often over-estimate how many calories our exercise buys us.

We regularly hear people saying they have been for a 5k or 10k run, or they have been to the gym for an hour, so they reward themselves with a big meal followed by a massive pudding, probably putting three times as many calories in as they have burnt off.

Below, we have put together a list of exercises and their equivalent in calories for a 13 stone person. The heavier we are the more calories we burn, and the lighter we are, the less calories we burn.

ExerciseCalories burnedFood equivalent
5k run350 Tin of soup and 1 slice of bread and butter/spread
30 minutes HIIT session3111/3 of a small (9.5″) Dominos Cheese and Tomato pizza
30 minutes swimming breast stroke222Porridge pot and a banana
1 hour Yoga356Prepacked – feta and tomato pasta salad
1 hour walk356Tuna Mayo and Cucumber sandwich on wholemeal bread
30 mins bike ride3551/2 a Chicken korma and rice ready meal and 1 poppadom
1 hour strength/weight session266Greggs Hot Chocolate

So as you can see, we must be mindful that we don’t overestimate our exercise because that run you just did or the workout session in the gym, really doesn’t equal the Indian takeaway complete with starters and sundries, and a bottle or two of Cobra.  And that swim you just did really doesn’t equal the chocolate muffin and latte that you had afterwards.

That is why we encourage you to keep exercise separate to weight loss, and treat exercise as a method to get you fit, and concentrate solely on your nutrition to lose weight.

Oops I forgot!

Then there’s the things that we forgot we ate! That biscuit as we passed the treat desk at work, the piece of ham we picked at in the fridge, the chips we pinched off the kids tea when we were dishing up.

The things we eat absent-mindedly and without thought or control can really get in the way of our success. And when we added up all the potential calories from a standard day of picking and nibbling at things without thought, and we calculated we could be having an extra 700 calories a day without even realising. It is so easy to do – so it is vital that if you are tracking calories, you record absolutely everything that passes your lips, because it all adds up.

This Week!

Get accurate – it’s the only way to guarantee your weight loss success, so get those scales out and starting weighing your way to weight loss!

Record every single thing that passes your lips and see what a difference it makes to the scales next week. You probably won’t realise how much extra your eating, and by recording it all, you will think twice before you put something in your mouth.

Be precise and you will be onto a winner! Good luck and get tracking!

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