Nutracheck Member's Top 5 Questions
Here are the five most recurring questions received from Nutracheck members using the online food diary system to lose weight.
1) If I don't use all of my daily calorie allowance, can I carry calories over?
A. Yes, you can carry over calories. If you feel satisfied on less
calories, then there is no need to eat for the sake of eating.
However, as ever Nutracheck doesn't recommend that you go below 1,200
calories a day for all health and good sense reasons.
As general advice, it is much better if 'under eating' your calories comes first so you have spare calories to spend later - rather than spending calories you can't afford and then having to pay them back later, when it simply may not happen.
And just to explain, the minimum target the Nutracheck system will set you is 1,400 calories per day. This is at the advice and experience of leading weight management specialist, Dr Campbell. The key to success is sustaining your diet, and while a lower calorie target may result in a quick weight drop initially, the question is how long can you sustain it for? A very low calorie diet (under 1,200 calories per day) is extremely difficult to live with for very long, and when you do return to old habits, the weight piles on more quickly. Slow but sure is the best way to shed weight and keep it off for good.
2) I generally stick to my calorie allowance but am way under on fat. Does this matter?
A. To explain, the figure given for your Nutracheck target is based
on the recommendation that no more than 33% of your total daily
calories should come from fat. It's not a requirement that you must eat
all the amount stated - think of it is a maximum limit. If you do find
yourself eating less, that's fine but stick around two-thirds of the
target, don't eat less than half.
Diets that are classed as 'low fat' tend to reduce fat intake to between 20 - 25% of total daily calories. So based on a daily target of 1,400 calories, this equates to 31g - 39g fat per day. There is no official minimum figure, but it is not recommended to go below 25g fat per day as this starts to restrict you from having a balanced diet. Also fat - the good type - is essential for the healthy functioning of your body.
Choose good fats - these are found in vegetable sources such as nuts and seeds.
Avoid unhealthy saturated fats - tend to be found in higher fat dairy products, the visible fat on meat and processed meat products such as sausages, pies and pates.
Also steer clear of unhealthy trans fats - found in many processed products and take away foods.
You are probably aware that fat is the most concentrated source of calories at 9 cals per gram - that's twice the number of calories in 1 gram of carbs and protein. So it makes sense that sensibly reducing your total fat intake, is a very effective way of lowering the number of calories in your diet.
3) My daily calorie allowance is higher than I would have expected. Will I still lose weight at this level?
A. Firstly to explain the calorie target. Nutracheck calculates this based on the information you input - in particular what you entered for your current work and leisure exercise levels will have a bearing on this. So it is worth checking the definitions of the activity levels by clicking on the little 'i' icon to ensure you have selected correctly.
It is reassuring to know the maths behind weight loss. To lose 1lb a week you need to create a calorie deficit of between 500 - 600 calories a day which is best achieved through a combination of eating less and increasing your activity level. This is why you are also set a target for the number of calories to try and burn each day.
You may well know that the reason exercise is so important is because it doesn't just burn extra calories while you are doing it, but it actually changes your body's composition over time. As you start to lose the fat and gain more muscle, your metabolism - even at rest - will start to burn more calories as muscle is an active tissue and will burn calories just by being there - as opposed to fat which doesn't. For maximum benefit, your 200 calorie a day target should ideally be activity over and above what you would usually do.
The bottom line is that if you achieve the 500 - 600 daily calorie reduction compared to what you were eating before, weight loss will happen! When Nutracheck sets your calorie target, this calculation will have been taken into consideration. However if you are feeling completely satisfied eating less than this, then don't feel like you must eat for the sake of eating. Anything above 1,400 calories a day and your target figure is fine - if anything it will speed up the weight loss, which can't be a bad thing!
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4) If I don't burn the extra calories in my exercise target, does it mean I have to reduce my calorie allowance in order to lose weight?
If you are on a calorie target of over 1,400 calories per day, the exercise target of 200 calories per day is to encourage you to burn this number over and above your normal daily routine. So for example, if you already take a daily walk as part of your existing lifestyle, the target of an extra 200 calories is to encourage activity that is more than what you body is generally used to, in order to help speed up weight loss.
However if your daily calorie target is 1,400, then burning the extra 200 calories per day is necessary in order to help you achieve the weight loss goal you have set by your goal date (and also works on the same principle as above - must be over and above what your body is used to for it to be of extra benefit).
If on a given day you did not manage the extra exercise, it does not mean that you MUST deduct 200 calories, as the weight will still come off if you are eating 1,400 calories a day, however it may be at a slightly slower rate - which is still fine! Dr Campbell tends not to recommend eating less than 1,400 calories per day for any length of time, as you will find that your diet does become much more restrictive and therefore you may not be able to sustain it - which is not what we want!
5) How often should I be updating my profile and changing my targets?
We recommend that you initially set your weight loss target in smaller steps - either 10% or half a stone - as this is far more motivating that just focusing on your final goal weight which can seem quite a distant and daunting challenge, particularly if you have a lot of weight to lose. Hence why the drop down list of goal weights also has the percentage weight loss against it too.
When you reach a weight loss milestone of either 10% of your body weight or 1 stone, we recommend re-setting your profile. Unless your daily work/activity level has significantly changed, your daily calorie requirements will go down. The reason we do not re-set your targets automatically is because we prefer to give Nutracheck members the flexibility over when to do this (some people prefer to leave it for longer before resetting).
To reset your target, you need to go to your profile and manually enter your new starting weight. It is quite likely that this will have the effect of changing your goal weight date - unless your initial weight loss has followed exactly the rate you set, for example 2 lbs per week. In reality it is likely that your weight loss has deviated slightly from this, hence why the goal date may move. The other point to note is that when you change your profile, the system currently applies this historically, so your previous Week View will change - however this is something that we are looking to address.
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