Nutrition 101:
Starting your Food Log

Good nutrition is an essential part of your fitness plan. The word DIET seems to be synonymous with a temporary change. Therefore, I urge you NOT to diet as a part of building your fitness plan / program. Rather, I encourage you to evaluate the nutritional values of what you eat and see if that is taking you to where you want to be. Are you consuming more calories than you burn? Does your fitness goal involve a weight / body fat reduction? How are you going to burn the necessary calories? Do the foods you eat have the necessary vitamins and minerals that you need?

If you restrict what you eat too much, your body will declare an emergency and go into a starvation metabolism that will defeat much of your effort to lose weight. Also, drastic changes to your lifestyle are hard to maintain over the long-term. And it is the long-term habits that your plan should be aiming to build.

For the first few weeks of your program, monitor exactly what you eat. Measure and record these quantities in your food log. Get used to looking at the nutritional values of the foods you eat. For those items without nutritional facts on the package, check out the link to the nutritional data tables (below).

Nutritional data

This process of recording what you eat will seem like a ‘drag’ at first, but you will quickly become acquainted with the difference between a 100-calorie snack and a 300-calorie snack. You’ll also become much more in-tune with what treats are ‘worth’ it to splurge on, and which ones are NOT worth it. We’ve all got our crutches (mine is ice cream). I just use a kid-sized bowl and try not to partake every night! It’s tough to make these changes, but if you have the courage to start them, they get much easier to maintain.

It’s up to you, how entailed your food log is. My food log is rather basic (just calories). I’ve gotten used to the serving size of many of the foods I commonly eat, and I usually round off the numbers a bit for ease of adding. In the past, I recorded the amounts of fat, carbohydrates, and protein in the foods I ate, but I found that this took precious time and really offered me no additional benefit.

I have stopped and started daily food logs many times over the past several years. I usually start back up when by ‘eyeball’ method starts letting me down (i.e. When I put on some pounds!).

For my daily eating, I strive for 3-5 pieces of fruit a day and a bowl of oat bran for breakfast. Dinner is a wildcard. I try to roll with the ‘plan-of-the-day’ and take portions based on my activity level of the day. I also try to limit my snacking and desserts…some day’s will power is stronger than others. Sometimes I find that a bowl of dry cereal and a glass of water will snuff the snacking urge...some days, I just cave in (you have to live a little, too).

I did not start off with this eating routine. It evolved over a few years of getting disgusted with my health and slowly introducing changes to my habits. I introduced fiber into my diet, starting with oat bran and then increased from an apple a few times a week to bananas, pears, oranges and apples throughout the day. My cholesterol has dropped over 70 points in the last 2 years, and my physician primarily credits this to the reduction of body fat. Check out my cholesterol self-experiment page for details.

Related pages:

Food log
Nutritional Data Tables


Fat: The Good & the Bad



Glycemic Index

Vitamins: What you need & how to get it

Good Snacks

What's the best diet plan for you?

Counting Calories

Fast Food Calories

Caffeine Facts

Low Calorie Meal Ideas

Low Calorie Dessert Ideas

Low Sugar Cereals

How to Stop Overeating

For more information on weight loss & nutrition, please also see:

Weight loss for busy people: Weight loss for people too busy to diet! Successful weight loss relies on getting the balance right between your life and your diet. They have the information you need to succeed.

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