Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tools You Can Use

Here are some of my favorite tools for weight loss....

Hidden Carb Calculator

Hidden carbs are very easy to find. All it takes is the nutrition label and a little math. Here's an example of how it works:

The Great Value Heavy Cream nutrition label says it has 50 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 carbohydrates, and 0 grams of protein per 1 tablespoon. To see if this is accurate we simply use the following formula:

fat x 9 calories + carbs x 4 calories + protein x 4 calories = total calories per serving.

So here's how this works. Each gram of fat contains 9 calories. Each gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories. Each gram of protein contains 4 calories. (Now you know what that little line at the bottom of the nutrition label means!) In our example above, our fat should be worked like this:

5 grams of fat x 9 calories = 45 calories.

That accounts for most of the calories in this product. But we still need to find out where the other 5 calories are coming from. So we continue on..

0 Carbohydrates x 4 calories = 0 calories.

0 Protein x 4 calories = 0 calories.

Now we have a problem. There are 5 calories unaccounted for. Most likely those are attributed to carbohydrates. So while the label says there are 0 carbs per 1 tablespoon, in all likelihood there are actually 1.25 carbs per tablespoon.

5 left over calories divided by the 4 carb calories = 1.25

How do the food industry get by with this? In most cases all they have to do is keep the serving small enough that the carb count is below 1. It could be .9 carbs and they can still list it as 0 because it isn't technically a full gram of carbs. Do you see how easy it can be to ingest more carbs that you realize? Now this isn't meant to make you paranoid about everything you eat. It's just a little tool you can use to help with those items you just aren't so sure about.

Measuring Tape

Any measuring tape will do.. but sometimes it's tough to get accurate measurements when you are doing it by yourself. Here's where I can help. Go to your local department store and look around in the sewing department. For around $1.95 you can find this little dandy:

The plastic slide moves around easily to help you find the right measurement. The red line helps you easily see the marks.

The slide on the back snaps to the end of the tape. Once you have the tape in place, simply unsnap and look at the slide! No more trying to bend over to see and worrying that you'll move the tape.

Muscle Vs. Fat

Another thing that can help you understand the importance of measurements is the following picture:

As you can see, fat takes up much more space than muscle. So the next time you feel like nothing is happening because the scale hasn't budged, remember this picture. You very well could be replacing fat with muscle.

Speaking of.. I measured today and compared to my last measurements, when I weighed around 196, I have lost a total of 4.5 inches!

I'm out of time for today.. but there are a couple of other tools I'd love to share with you tomorrow.. so check back soon!

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