Weighing Food is Crazy!

I have to admit, it shocked me. It shocked me, how shocked she was!

We just met a few weeks ago and it was one of the early dates. My girlfriend and I spend the warm summer evening at her place to cook dinner for the two of us: a quick pasta dish with chicken and a bell-pepper tomato-sauce (link to recipe).

We were talking about our day, laughing and really started to like each other. I was preparing the chicken, chopped the veggies and was about to cook the pasta. It was this very moment when I asked her for a scale to measure the amount of pasta I wanted to cook.

“What do you need a scale for?” she asked confused with a raised eyebrow. “Well, I want to measure the pasta.” I replied. “Why!?” Confusion from my side. Then I told her that I measure everything that has calories so I can control my bodyweight. “You are crazy! Why would anyone do that? This is crazy!” And that was the moment, I got called “crazy” for the first time.
(And she still thinks I am!)

Measuring food? This is crazy! – Or is it?

Why do I weigh the food I eat? Or the foods that contain the most calories per unit?

The food we eat is composed of macro-nutrients, the big building blocks of our food. The macro-nutrients of importance are protein, carbohydrate and fats. There is also alcohol, but for you general health only these three are the important.

Now, to your body they represent them self’s as energy. If your body takes a macro to your mitochondria (the power-house of a cell) it would be oxidized (burned) and turned into energy. Each “macro” has a certain amount of calories it delivers to the body. Protein and fats are also needed for other processes and won’t be exclusively burned as fuel. (Very simplified)

 

Your bodies needs a certain amount of energy to function well. This energy is displayed in the form of calories and commonly given as a “per day” measurement.

For example a daily calorie intake might be 2000kcal per day.

If you provide less calories your body has to take them from somewhere to meet with its basal level. The energy could come from body fat.

If you provide more energy than you need, the bodies stores it. That could be body fat gain.

Also know as “Calories In vs Calories Out”.

“There is no spoon.”

This happens every single second, every hour, every day. It’s an up and down, store and burn, from the time you where just one cell until you pass the spoon – but don’t do that now! We have ice cream in the freezer!

It depends on the amount of time you spend in a certain state (burning or storing), that is then reflected in your body composition.

You are what you eat and look like it.

But this under your control by controlling the “in and out”.

It’s called diet and can be short term or a complete overhaul and lifestyle change. (Which is better, by the way!)
To control your body composition you have to control the amount of calories, represented as food and beverages, over time.

Activities also play a big role and assist any fitness and health goal in many beneficial ways.
It’s just very time consuming to out-train bad eating habits.

Hope you bare with me, that is some ground stuff we have to cover and very basic. Probably you are already familiar with all this. Really, there is no need to get super detailed right now. I will get into more detail, no worries.

Of course, if you want more information on that topic you can find a few links in the Resources section. There are people out there who explain all this in way more detail than I can and think is necessary at this point.

Pepper-Prepper

If you do not live in the fitness industry chances are you think of weighing food as not normal. And to be honest: You are right. Your body tells you when, what and how much to eat. It’s that crazy thing called “hunger” and it’s as old as life itself. Why would anyone do that?

On the other hand, you found this blog, so I can assume you are flirting with this concept or have serious plans to make this part of you life.

 

Good things are coming!

“Meal Prep” or “Food Prep” as some like to call it. What is that?

It basically means, that you prepare the meals for a given time in advance. Say 2 days, 4 days, a whole week for example.

The special thing here is not “cooking in advance”, but doing so with a distinct goal in mind. A certain food composition that fits this goal.

For most people that’s a diet to lose fat, gain muscle and in some cases gain fat or just stay where you are right now. Another person might want more control over food choices. Time management is often a big one. Who has time to cook a real meal after a 12 hour day of commuting and working? Or even feels like it!?

Coming home from a long day, no prepared meal or even any food in the fridge, often leads to fast food, unhealthy snacks in front of the TV.
Or eating nothing at all. Which is also bad, because long days take a lot of energy and you cannot keep that up if you do not deliver enough of it. Also certain foods have beneficial effects on mood and stress relieve. And knowing on you way back home that there is no good food or that you have to cook, is in its self a stress factor.
 
It makes a lot of sense to be prepared, because…
 

This scenario could also look like this:

The day was longer than expected. You had to finish the project to make the customer happy. This presentation needs to be ready this evening! You open your bag, take that extra sandwich and an apple out to fuel up and get it all done. On your commute home you can relax and socialize with friends and family. Your thoughts do not revolve around that one, nagging question:

 

“I am so hungry! What am I gonna eat?”

 

Back home you heat up that favorite dish of yours and let the day fade out. You could also have gone to the gym or headed out for a run. That little snack at noon prevented you from crashing.

Something that happend way to often to my self.

Okay, back to planning:

Let’s see if we can create different levels or “intensities” of meal planning. We, as humans, like categories, this might look like this:

1. No to very little planning and preparation

2. Planning and for the next day

3. Planning for a few days

4. Planning a week

5. Hybrid or flexible

 

Let’s have a closer look at these categories:

1.  No planning and preparation.

You eat when hungry and what you feel like eating. All foods are cool with you. Calories and macros are not of your concern. Your grocery list mostly consist of the foods you always buy, if you even have a list.
You order food or pick something up on the way. Very little cooking and planning. A lot of convenience foods. On occasion you prepare a single meal.
Leftovers happen by accident.

2. Planning for the next day.

You may have heard of the so called “balanced” meal and you employ this concept. You cook real foods and purposely cook more to have something for the next day. You limit junk food but eat vegetables and fruit on a regular basis.

3. Planning for a few days

This is where you go in blocks of days. You shop only the groceries you need for the upcoming days and dedicate a set time frame for the preperation.
Something like sunday and wednesday evening.

4. Planning for 7-days aka the week

You have a dedicated kitchen-day where you pre-cut and pre-cook as much as possible. You shop only the groceries you need for the upcoming week, you weigh the foods, pack everything in containers, freeze where necessary. You have a plan. This is also the “longst time” you should plan ahead. This saves a lot of time.

5. Hybrid or flexible

This is what most people get to over time. Most of your meals are planned and therefore prepared on one or two days throughout the week. You have a few “free spots” where you cook one meal as a social event for example.
You could also prepare meals partly and fry a piece of meat while everything else is reheated. You shop groceries as needed but plan where possible.

Where you place your self, what you think is sustainable for you and what you would enjoy most is totally up to you. Once you get the hang of all this mixing becomes also possible.

 
I am mostly in category 2 or 3 because I love cooking and it became part of my evening routine.

About beeing smart

What do I mean by this? You could buy the ingredients for a single meal and cook it. Technically that would be “meal prep” – but no very efficient, not very smart. The trick is to look ahead, to plan. And to create a plan you need to figure out a few things.

  • What do you like to eat?
  • What should you eat? (Very important topic!)
  • How much of it? (Also very important!)
  • How to prepare all that?
  • What tools are needed?

And we are done!

This is the first article of a whole series I am planning to help people reach their health, fitness, body composition and self-management goals.

Here are a few topics that I like to cover:

  • Meal Plan Design
  • Understanding and managing Macros
  • Getting around in the kitchen
  • Managin you social life
  • Kitchen tools and how to best use them
  • Reviews of these tools and gadgets
  • Recipes and How-to’s
  • Nutrition & DietExercise
  • Habits and psychology

Now that you are hopefully a bit curious or should I say… hungry?!
Check out the Meal Prep Basics.

What are topics that you like to see?

Leave a message in the comments or send me an email.

And if you subscribe to the newsletter, you might find your question answered in a future post. How awesome would that be?

Until then, have a good one,
Andreas

 
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