Diet Question & Answer

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Calories for Lean Muscle

Exercise Calories Burned CalculatorOn your calorie calculator, doesn't that figure out your total calories for your "current weight" and not your "goal weight?" Unless you put in your goal weight value, aren't you really calculating the number of calories consumed to maintain your current weight?

You are correct. The Estimated Calorie Requirements Calculator estimates calories to maintain your weight. Once this is established, you can compare this number to the actual number of calories you are consuming. From here, you can determine if you need to initially increase or decrease your calories to reach your objectives while monitoring your progress with regular body composition tests. Also see Diet Development and Starvation Effect.


Food Exchange Journal

Food Exchange JournalHow do you use the food exchange journal? What kind of values do I place in the spaces and how do I calculate totals with the numbers provided?

The Food Exchange Journal is intended to be used with the Food Exchange System. You can use this form to record and monitor your food intake throughout the day. Exchanges can later be converted to grams of Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat and Calories using the numbers in the cells. Alternatively, you can also use the Exchange Calculator to make these calculations. It may take some time to look over and study the exchange system until you feel comfortable in using it.


Food Exchange Confusing Units

I've made a thread in the forums about this issue. The post is as follows: Food Exchanges. I'm being totally confused by this page! I don't live in the US so I'm trying to follow the Metric column, but it does not correspond to the US Unit column. For example, according to this page 1 US Cup = 250mL, but it does not!

1 US fl. oz. = 29.574mL
1 US Cup = 8 US fl. oz. = 8 * 29.574 = 236.588mL

I think I understand why this error was made though: in the US, the standard for one cup is 8 fl. oz., but in countries that use the metric system it's 250mL. But still, 8fl. oz. don't equal 250mL! So basically it ends up giving different portions to people who use the different columns. The people following the US Unit column will get smaller portions than the Metric column.

I actually grew up with food exchanges as a kid. My stepmother had been diagnosed with brittle diabetes when I was young. She controlled her blood sugar by multiple insulin injects each day and a strict diet prescribed to her by registered dietitians based on the ADA food exchange lists. As I took an interest in exercise and nutrition, she allows me on occasions, to arrange her exchanges into meals and snacks throughout the day. I personally had used the food exchange method throughout my own training, followed its changes during my college years in my nutrition courses, and have used it ever since as a trainer and coach as a way to prescribe diet and healthy eating to my clients.

The point of the exchange system is to simplify macronutritional calculations. Foods are categorized into exchanges that best reflect their respective number of carbohydrates, fats, protein, and calories. You may be interested to know, if you were to look up the actual macronutrients in a reference such as Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, you will discover the exchange values are only approximations (sometimes off by 15% on some of the lower fat meat exchanges).

Likewise, 1 cup or 250 mL is a close approximate serving size that can more easily be remembered, measured, added, divided etc. as oppose to a fraction of these amounts. Other food guidelines such as Canada's Food Guide To Healthy Eating have also referred to a serving of milk as both 1 cup and 250 mL. You are certainly correct in your observation, but I think, it's important to understand the purpose behind the use of these approximate measurements. Using these approximate standardized measurements is certainly not going to bring about any repercussions that will significantly affect one's eating habits, body weight, dietary, or performance goals. On the contrary, it simplifies a process for those who would otherwise find the ideal of exacting measurements and calculations a daunting ordeal. When eating out for example, you certainly are not expected to get out and start placing your food in measuring cups and on scales at the table. Approximations are in order. Certainly in the beginning (or when you may be in the process of reducing portion sizes), I believe it is important to measure everything until you able to estimate serving sizes more accurately (just don't go out to a restaurant to eat for a while ;-). My point is that, it's not so important to measure everything down to the nearest gram or mL, but just to have a quantity of food that you can measure or portioned easily, without the need for a slide ruler or calculator if your dietary plan ever calls for more than one serving. Just consider yourself lucky your not using the US unit of measurement; now you'll be able to enjoy that extra 13.412 mL per serving. :-)

If the idea of approximations are truly unsettling for you, one viable alternative is to keep a food journal with exact measurements and accurate descriptions of the food you consume. You can then query for the closest match in a dietary analysis computer program (eg: DietPower). Entering each item into the computer program will allow for a tally of a multitude of nutrients. Like the Food Exchange method, you may then make adjustments along the way according to the results of periodic body composition tests and other measurements.

Tim, our past forum moderators (RIP) alluded to a good point you may want to ask yourself. Could it be possible that this question was brought about as a way to create an obstacle in beginning a structured dietary program by rationalizing its flaws, and thereby creating yet another excuse for yourself? Or perhaps a call for support? Obviously, I have never met you and cannot make this judgment, but I do know myself and how intelligent people can create these mind barriers for themselves. Just something to reflect on....

Thank you so much for such a detailed reply :) I guess that you do have a point though, I was being too picky about the trivial issues without looking at the bigger picture. I'm loving ExRx.net so much, it has pretty much everything I need to improve my nutrition and exercise plan!


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