In a bid to find out if I’m a sugar cube, a huge lump of lard, or a svelte and healthy bean (unlikely) I’ve been keeping track of what I’ve been munching my way through with the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone.
The app is free and relatively easy to use. You simply key in what you’ve consumed, or scan the bar-code, and the app finds the nearest match. In the case of bar-code scanning I was amazed that it recognised every food I scanned! Granted, there’s a bit of guesswork in terms of portion sizes. You’d need to weigh out your food if you wanted a totally accurate representation of your diet, but, for me at least, I reckoned the estimations programmed into the app would do.
The only other issue I experienced was when the app decided to crash on me on Thursday, causing me to accidentally add Thursday’s dinner onto Wednesday’s, resulting in me looking like a complete gannet. For that reason I decided to use the stats from across six days rather than seven!
I wasn’t interested in counting calories, which is probably a good thing. I’m guessing the app thought my petite frame and sedentary lifestyle meant that I didn’t need so many calories, and I soon found myself blasting through the 1,570 calorie target each day.
The app presents your results to you by way of a pie chart, which breaks down how much protein, fat and carbohydrates you’ve consumed as a percentage Vs your recommended amounts.
You can then further analyse your diet in terms of nutrients.
With a bit of Excel magic, I set to doing some analysis of my weekly diet. Here are the results…
- Trans Fat (g) 0 – Trans Fats are a purely man-made substance which holds no nutritional value. A definite one to steer clear of and one I’m particularly pleased to report I’ve consumed nothing of. Hurrah!
- Cholesterol (mg) 338 – I still had 338mg’s left of my Cholesterol quota. Cholesterol is bad news for my arteries, so I’m pleased I’m not consuming too much of that!
- Polyunsaturated Fat (g) – 20 and Monounsaturated Fat (g) -60 – You’re probably thinking – huh, you had too much fat, how can that be fab? – but these types are fat aid with muscle protection and blood clotting, so I’m not too concerned.
- Vitamin C (93%) – I’m actually quite impressed with how much Vitamin C I’m consuming. The body can’t store Vitamin C, but it’s important for producing Collagen, boosting the immune system and aiding the absorption of iron. Thank you Coconut Water for keeping me topped up (and reminding me of tropical shores).
- Saturated Fat (g) -118 – Saturated fat is bad news for my arteries and something I really need to cut down on.
- Sugars (g) -233 – I had a feeling I was consuming too much sugar and this just proves it. Eating too much sugar can result in inflammation, which can cause all sorts of nasties. It can also lead to insulin resistance, which in turn, can lead to Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease – eek!
- Calcium 19% – For someone who has a genetic pre-disposition for osteoporosis this is quite, quite unacceptable (*slaps self on wrist – but not too hard – don’t want to damage any bones*).
- Iron 10% – I’m surprised that my diet is so lacking in iron (vital for forming haemoglobin (the oxygen carrying protein of the blood) and myglobin (the oxygen carrying protein of the muscles)). It’s definitely a nutrient I need to boost.
- Sodium (mg) 5666 – I’m not getting enough sodium (which helps with keeping fluids balanced within cells, effective transmission of information by the nerves and muscle contraction), but it’s not an area I’m overly concerned.
- Potassium (mg) 14576 – Despite consuming multiple glasses of Coconut Water (which has more Potassium than a banana, fact fans!) I’m still low on Potassium. This is also important in keeping fluids balanced within cells. A development area for the future.
- Total Carbohydrates (g) 29 – I’m not using my full allocation of carbs, but this doesn’t worry too much. Something I’d like to look into in the future is if I’m consuming the right type of carbs – but that’s something for another day!
- Dietary Fibre (g) 29 – Again, I’m not quite getting enough fibre (important for expelling waste from the body and guarding against nasties such as diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer) but it’s not a major concern for me at the moment.
I hope this gives you some idea of what I was trying to achieve in terms of monitoring my diet. I’m not worried about calorie intake, I’m more concerned about how much (or little) goodness I’m getting from each mouthful. Completing this exercise has really helped me to understand the areas I need to focus on (basically ‘The Fail’ list in the first instance and now it’s a case of consulting my nutritional bible (a.k.a The Body Book by Cameron Diaz) to see how I can move from fail to fab.
Have you ever monitored your diet? What did you discover? Let me know in the comments below.