Count It Up!

You may or may not have noticed that I don’t count calories.  My relationship with food is just on the healthy side of normal and I know that if I were to scrutinize every morsel that passed my lips beyond its overall nutritional value, the scales would tip and the result would be poor.  That said, I do believe that it’s important for me to step back and evaluate my eating habits every so often.  As I up my weekly mileage for marathon training, the need to be ultra-aware of my caloric intake becomes less of a an unhealthy preoccupation and more of a necessity.  At this point in the game calorie counting isn’t obsessive it’s responsible.  I need ensure that I’m taking in enough calories to balance out my activity levels so that I don’t pass out on a run, or worse, eat my own arm in a hunger induced frenzy. 

Since I really don’t like the idea of calorie counting, I’m lucky that I’m a creature of habit and tend to eat more or less the same things on a day to day basis.  This is a good thing because it means that every so often, I can count up my calories for the day (note: I do this for one day, not every day) and get a pretty good idea of the amount of calories I’m taking in on a daily basis.  I might do this two or three times a year just to make sure I’m on track.

A female of my hight and weight should be consuming roughly 1400 calories a day to maintain their weight.  At 5’5″ and 135lbs I burn about 100 calories per mile that I run and, according to Shape Magazine’s August issue “How Many Calories Do You Really Need?”, it’s recommended that I replenish half of that deficit.  If my average daily run is 6 miles, that’s 300 calories, so  1400 + 300 = 1700.  This is the total number of calories I should be aiming for each day.  On long run days where I’m burning 1500-2000 calories in a single morning, I should be upping the ante to about 2100-2400 calories.   (I do not have a medical degree, this is simply what works for me.  Click the embedded links above to learn more and calculate your own recommended intake)

Let’s see how I’m doing: 

Breakfast:


(Note: my less than stellar camera is one of the many reasons I’m not a food blogger)

Oatmeal
1 cup of rolled oats – 300 calories
8 almonds, chopped – 34 calories
1 tsp milled flax seed – 10 calories
1 cup almond milk, vanilla – 40 calories
1/2 medium banana –  60 calories
1 tsp cottage cheese – 22 calories
1/4 blueberries and strawberries – 20 calories

Total for breakfast : 486

Lunch:

Salad – 290
3 cups spinach (loosely packed) –  20 calories
1/8 cup raisins – 40 calories
20 peanuts – 85 calories
1/2 tsp milled flax seed – 5 calories
1/2 tsp Ken’s Light Raspberry Walnut dressing – 30 calories
1/2 cup chopped, grilled chicken breast – 110 calories

 

Mixed Fruit – 85
3 prunes – 25 calories
1/3 cup of strawberries – 20 calories
1/3 cup of blueberries – 20 calories
1/3 cup of raspberries – 20 calories

Total for lunch: 375

Snacks:


(1 eaten around 11am, another with lunch and the last two around 3pm)

1/2 banana (the other half from the morning’s oats) – 60 calories
1 Gala apple – 75 calories
1 Chobani greek yogurt cup (peach) – 140 calories
1 Kashi granola bar – 140 calories

Total snacks: 415

Dinner:

Grilled Veggie Wrap:

2 cups veggies (spinach, red bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, zucchini, squash) – 200 calories
1 tbsp Roasted Garlic Hummus – 30 calories
1/4 cup black beans – 50 calories
1/8 cup reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled – 35 calories
1 tortilla wrap – 60 calories

Total dinner: 375

Total: 1,651 calories for the day

Not bad, not bad. I’m about 50 calories shy for the day … I guess I get a cookie tonight!  A trick that I use to guesstimate more effectively is to aim for a number 200-300 below what I really need.  Why do I do this?  Because underestimating portion sizes and calorie content is a favorite American pastime!  It may sound counterproductive, but since my intake today was right on target, it looks like it’s working for me.

Do you count calories?  If not, how do you ensure you’re eating a diet of healthy proportions?  I try and base my meals on my hunger level.  If I’m hungry, I eat a small meal.  Still hungry?  Drink a glass of water and make sure I’m not just dehydrated.  Water didn’t cut it?  Back to the fridge I go…. 🙂

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16 Responses to Count It Up!

  1. I am just curious, how do you factor in other activity that you do throughout the day? It seems that the BMR is for someone who is completely sendentary. There must be an allowance of a few hundred calories for basic day to day activity outside of intentional exercise no?

    I don’t count calories either although I try to stay conscious of what certain things add up to because it helps me make better choices (400 calorie cookie? not worth it!!)

    • A BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator is desined to calculate your calorie burn at a resting state. You’re right though, there are several calculators out there that do ask you to imput your activity level. Since I have a desk job and am, unfortunately, pretty sedentary throughout the day, the numbers don’t fluxuate much for me personally. I should have linked to a calculator that factors that in for all those active folks out there. Here’s another one fun one to try: http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc

  2. Jaime Runs says:

    You don’t eat a snack after dinner? AHHH! I always need something either sweet or salty before bed while I watch bad TV. That would help you meet your goal, I think 😉

    p.s. your diet is fantastic. will you come over and make my meals for me?

    • I DO usually have a little desert. 🙂 Last night I was so busy taking pictures of all my food that I didn’t get out for my run until after 8pm. By the time I was home and showered I was ready to drop! But thanks for the compliment!

  3. BostonRunner says:

    I love that we got a glipse into your eating day! I always find it fun when bloggers/runners who don’t normally post their food do for a day. You seem like you eat really healthy and I even got some good ideas, so thanks!

    As for calorie counting.. I don’t do it. Partly because I agree it will just make me crazy focused on every little thing I eat and partly because I’m lazy. That being said, I do know around how much I eat on a typical day because I eat around the same thing every day (like you!) So every once in a while I calculate how much calories something is that I’m eating just so I am aware for futre reference (for example, discovering a couple of years ago that bananas are 100 calories has stopped me from eating like 3 a day – that was probably way too much anyways! haha I just love bananas.)

  4. 1/2 the deficit? I was told by a dietitian to replenish the entire deficit. So I’m supposed to eat 1700-1800 calories a day, if I run 6 miles, I eat 2300-2400.

    I’ve been STARVING since starting marathon training. Like I wake up STARVING every morning. It’s terrible.

    I’m not the kind of person that gets obsessive about calorie counting. It just allows me to be AWARE of what I’m putting in my mouth. Otherwise I’ve been known to overeat!

    • I thought that 1/2 the deficit thing was interesting too. I tried to link to the article, but because it’s in this month’s issue, it hasn’t been published online yet. Thinking back, the article was on how train without gaining weight, not strictly maintaining, so maybe that’s part of it. Like I said though, if I’m hungry I eat! So if the 1/2 thing doesn’t work for me, I’ll be upping the ante. 🙂

  5. The Linz says:

    Thanks for sharing your days worth of eats! It looks good! I have just recently started back to calorie counting for the reason that I would like to still try and lose weight and/or not gain weight while training for the marathon. I sometimes have the mentlity that I just ran x miles so I should be able to eat a little more of this or that. But usually it’s not good stuff. So I vowed that I was going to watch what I eat and track my food intake daily. Now looking at your post I am not sure I am eating enough some days. I didn’t ever calculate back in the deficit. Do you think it’s possible to gain weight from not eating enough while training? I have heard this but wondered what you thought?

    • I think gaining is definitely a possible side effect of not getting enough calories. That’s my main concern – that I’m not eating enough, but sometimes it’s hard to eat that much food! If you’re body isn’t getting enough nutients it goes into survival mode and starts storing excess fat/nutrients for later. Sometimes I even notice that I lose a pound or two after a splurge day. Isn’t that funny? I guess it kickstarts my metabolism, but it always reminds me that I need more fuel!

  6. abbi says:

    I used the guesstimate method for tracking what I eat. Back in the days when I was trying to lose weight, I tracked it but that time was enough for me to learn about what I was eating and I no longer do it. My typical meals throughout the day look eerily similiar to yours! Also, I sent you an e-mail with where I in MD and how I find out about the itty-bitty races.

  7. Joy says:

    1400 calories seems low. I think I had used some tool & in order to lose 2 lbs/week it had me consuming 1800 calories.

    I’m much better about what I eat when I track my intake. Otherwise, anything goes 😉

  8. Jamie says:

    I don’t count calories. I tried for awhile but with traveling for work it just became too time consuming. I fall under the belief of everything in moderation. If I’m hungry I opt for a healthy snack (protein/carb mix definitely!) When I’m at home I try to cook healthy and when I eat out I order as healthy as I can and limit the portion sizes. But when I want to indulge I definitely don’t deny myself. Not always the best because that can be a dangerous downward spiral but hey I love food!

  9. sarah says:

    Very interesting! I’m kind of ashamed that I pay so little attention to my caloric intake. On some days, I’m sure, I’m way under, and other days, way over. I know that I could improve my running (and probably overall brain function) if I evened that out, but somehow calculating all the stuff I eat seems really stressful. Anyway, your food looks excellent.

  10. I just came across your blog via Higher Miles, and I like what I see! Your food photos are fantastic!

    Unfortunately, during the past six months, while finishing my PhD, I got out of the habit of counting calories or being very careful of portions and I gained about 10 pounds. I’m starting to count Weight Watcher’s points again, though, because I’m not keen on training with the extra weight. (And I’d like to get back into my trousers.)

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