What if you could track 3/4 of your daily calories in a single entry?
You can, if you eat the same thing everyday, or at least a rotating menu.
All you have to do is figure out the nutritional values for that days menu. Then you add up all those calories and nutrients, and make them a single entry in your food-tracking app of choice.
That sounds like a lot of work, but don’t worry, there’s a fast and easy way.
In this article, I’ll show you how to quickly determine Nutritional Information with a handy website (even for your homemade recipes), how to add it all up quickly, and what the final result looks like.
Skip to The Process if you want to get right into it.
This is my calorie tracking for the day.
Two weeks in a row and I hadn’t lost a pound.
I was doing all the right things:
I gave up processed sugar. I was getting a lot of exercise. I was fasting intermittently.
How the hell did the scale actually go up half a pound?
After three days of tracking my food, MyFitnessPal gave me the answer:
I was eating too much. Around 3200 calories a day, which (surprise) amounted to about half a pound of weight gain per week.
Like a teenager jumping on the latest fad, I suddenly loved the idea of counting calories.
Except there was one problem:
I really, really sucked at counting calories.
Life Gets In The Way
Five days. That’s my record for making entries in MyFitnessPal.
Nothing bounces out of my orbit like non-routine effort. If it doesn’t have a set time and place, it’s not happening.
If I make my entries at 7:30PM each night, I forget what I ate.
If I try to fit in the cracks of my day, I’m vulnerable to forgetting to actually do it.
So is this it? Am I doomed to fly by the seat of my pants forever?
Not at all. Check this out.
Eating the Same Thing Everyday
I recently read this article on Medium where this guy eats the same thing every day.
At first, I thought, “Who would want to do that???”.
But then I got to thinking… I really do eat mostly the same foods.
I start everyday with a soup, I eat one of three raw vegetables for a snack, I use a lot of nuts. It really wouldn’t be much of a stretch for me to eat the same thing daily.
I shouted to my wife, “Hey Dina, this guy eats the same thing every day!”
She said, “Yea, that’s pretty much what I do, too.”
And with that, an idea was born.
Here’s the thing:
A lot of what I eat is my own recipes.
I eat mostly whole foods, splicing them together in various combinations. Good for your health, not so fun when you’re tracking calories.
For example, my smoothie takes 8 ingredients. I have to look up the Nutrition Info for 8 products, adjust the serving sizes, and then add it all up. It takes a long time (it took me 30 minutes to do my smoothie in Excel).
But luckily, there are smart people out there, working hard to make my life easy.
Behold, a site that does all the heavy lifting for you:
This website is absurdly handy.
I found one of my favorite recipes on for Keto bread, copied it to Very Well Fit’s calculator, worked out the errors, and I got this:
I lifted a couple more recipes from a Budget Bytes, added some of my own recipes, and within minutes, I had all the nutritional info I wanted.
Adding it All Up
Here’s a really simple spreadsheet on Google Docs to help you out.
The first thing you want to do is go to File in the top left, and click Make a copy. You won’t be able to edit if you don’t do that.
Give your menu a memorable name (just for fun) and start entering those bits of nutritional info into the rows.
The spreadsheet will tally the columns automatically.
Here’s one I did for an example:
Each meal plan has space for 15 entries. If that’s not enough, let me know and I’ll make a sheet with more!
After this, all you have to do is create a new food in your food-tracking app.
Here’s what mine looks like:
Dinner is up to you
This is the only meal of the day you should be tracking. The rest is covered under your daily menu.
Treat your food as fuel during the day, and let dinner be the meal where you get to have whatever you want.
I actually found myself staring into the fridge, longing for a left-over piece of steak. Then I realized I could just eat it with my dinner.
The goal of this method is to wipe our 3/4 of your tracking. You don’t want to spend your day pecking away at your phone, trying to remember what you ate, what the name of that package was, how much…
If all you’re tracking is dinner, you can actually pick a quiet time in the evening to write down what you ate.
Where to Go From Here
I know that I like this system of counting calories enough to keep it going, but the lack of variety does bother me a bit.
I’ve been reading about hunter-gatherer tribes and our ancestors used to consume up to 150 different plant species and many more sources of meat (including reptiles and insects).
Ultimately, I want to make up to 8 daily menus, and have them follow the seasons more closely.
If you have ideas on how to make this technique better, let me know on Facebook!