An Exposé Series: A Day in the Life of the American Working Professional, Part 4

  • Karran Gupta
  • October 2, 2015

In Part 1, we took a look at a day in the life of Sara. Sara thought she was making healthy choices in her eating habits, when in reality she was sabotaging her own fat loss goals in a big way.

In Part 2 we discussed Angie’s story. Angie has good intentions – she works out, she tries to make healthy eating choices for the most part, but a few wrong moves throughout the day and she has blown her fat loss goals right out of the water.

In Part 3 we took a peak into the life of a working professional named Jeremy, who truly believes he is on the fast track to 6-pack abs. We found that although he was shooting for a deficit of around 750 calories per day, which should give him a weight loss of 1.5 pounds per week, he was actually consuming 600 calories per day more than he thought. How could this be? The answer is that he was underestimating his intake. Now, depending on what his diet was like before he started his nutrition and exercise plan, even with his calories being closer to maintenance than to a deficit, he may still see results right off the bat. But after time, those results will wane and he will find himself wondering why he can’t seem to make any further headway. Jeremy believes wholeheartedly that he is doing everything right. He works out 5 days a week, he logs his food into FitDay, and he measures his portions. He realizes that he may be a little loose here and there with some things, but those few calories not accounted for couldn’t add up to that much, could they?

The answer to his question is YES. They CAN add up, and they add up fast. There is also a huge discrepancy between measurements using measuring cups versus a food scale. Watch this video for a visual presentation of what I mean. I will wait while you watch.

Quite insightful isn’t it? So let’s break it down meal by meal.

In the pre-workout shake Jeremy scoops out one serving of protein powder and pours it into the blender, in addition to measuring out one cup of skim milk. He grabs a banana and throws that in too. Now, while the measurement for one cup of milk (8 oz) and one scoop of protein powder (32 grams) is typically pretty accurate, what Jeremy does not realize is that there is a big difference in calories depending on the size of a banana. In fact, most bananas fall into the “large” category, rather than small or medium. This difference alone can account for a 20-50 calorie discrepancy.

For breakfast, Jeremy uses a measuring cup to measure out a serving of oatmeal, rather than weighing it on a scale. Instead of 80 grams (1 cup), he unknowingly gives himself 100 grams, which is an extra 20 grams or 75 calories. He doesn’t worry about tracking calories for his coffee, the “little bit” of skim milk and Splenda he adds to it, or the hot sauce he adds to his eggs. He figures this couldn’t add up to very much. In total all of these “extra” and mistaken measurements total to an additional 147 calories unaccounted for. Yikes…

For lunch, instead of measuring the serving size for the mayo, Jeremy guesstimates one tablespoon, and ends up using 3 tablespoons total, rather than 1. Can you see where I am going with this?

For his snack, Jeremy again underestimates his serving sizes by using measuring cups to measure his cottage cheese and the oats. He read in Maxim Magazine that 14 walnuts halves equals 1 oz, when in reality the 14 walnut halves he was giving himself each day equated to 1.4 oz. He also, once again, does not account for the Splenda. Total unaccounted for calories – 115.

For dinner, Jeremy sautés his green beans in cooking spray. What Jeremy doesn’t consider is that cooking spray has 5 calories per 1 second spray. He hoses that pan down for at least 10 seconds. He also gives himself what equates to a cup and a half of green beans, not a cup as planned since he doesn’t really measure his veggies, he just approximates them. Add another 110 calories. Luckily he does weigh his meats and potatoes raw.

For his last meal of the day, Jeremy measures out both the cottage cheese and the peanut butter, again using the measuring cup, and again, does not account for the Splenda. Additional unaccounted for calories – 130.

You might be thinking, c’mon this is exaggerated. It is not. Male or female, newbie or pro, underestimating calories is an incredibly common goal undermining mistake. It happens all the time.

So what is the moral of the story here? If you find your results tapering off and you can’t figure out what could be causing the stall, take one week, 7 days, and WEIGH AND TRACK EVERYTHING. Yes, everything. You would be surprised how easy it is to underestimate portion sizes. Weighing your food wipes out any room for error.

Here are a few tips to remember when weighing:

  • Weigh meats raw and grains dry.
  • Weighing in grams will be more accurate than ounces because it is a smaller measurement.
  • If you are having trouble measuring out a recipe, try figuring out the calories for the entire recipe, and then weighing the whole thing, then dividing the total weight by the total number of servings in order to find out the weight of each single serving.

Now, I am not suggesting that you become a scale obsessed micromanager. Rather, I am bring a very common mistake to your attention. If you are not seeing the results you would like, then maybe its time to head up to Bed, Bath, and Beyond with your 20% off coupon and pick up a good food scale.

Whether you find that you can relate more to Sara, to Angie, or to Jeremy, the overall message is this. Be accountable. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are “dieting” just because you put yourself in that mindset. If you want to achieve your goals in the most effective manner, you’ve got to take responsibility and track. It’s a pain in the ass, and yes it will be time consuming at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes part of your routine and you can breeze right through.

So get started today. Wherever you fall in terms of your goals and level of tracking, take one step to hold yourself more accountable. You can truly see by the stories above what a difference it can make!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recomended Posts