Want to lose weight? Well, start by looking at what’s on your plate. (OK, let’s get real -- what you’re eating out of the palm of your hand at the kitchen counter, while standing over the sink.)
Forget that you ate five handfuls of cereal at your cubicle this morning? The folks at LIVESTRONG.com will make sure you won’t forget, and they’ll make sure you remember the nutritional benefits or ramifications of each bite, too.
LIVESTRONG.com recognizes the need for Americans to consider what’s going in their mouths, forkful by forkful, with its Daily Plate application. The savvy, web-based calorie-counter (it's free, by the way) has lured in over two million followers and counting, all in an attempt to promote healthier lifestyles.
Kerri Myers-Landis, one of the Daily Plate’s loyal fans, first logged on to the site to lose weight for her October 10 wedding. During the span of 18 months, she lost 28 pounds and dropped four jeans sizes.
Myers-Landis was immediately pleased with the site’s weight loss plan because she never felt deprived of anything. “I had no restrictions. I naturally ate healthier because I knew the best way to get the most out of my calories for the day,” she said.
How did she do it? First, log onto www.livestrong.com to determine your calorie goal. Enter in your age, weight and height. Then, determine your weight loss goal per week as well as your lifestyle category. The site will then calculate your daily caloric intake goal. (By the way, it’s designed for people looking to gain weight as well. Should a person choose that route, then the projected daily calorie goal would, obviously, be higher. )
The Daily Plate houses an enormous database of over 1 million foods. So, the nutritional information for food products upon food products are automatically calculated once you find and select it. Record foods in your online log in virtually one second.
For instance, say you (accidentally!) eat a bag of Cheetos. Type in “Cheetos” in the “What did you eat?” section. Various Cheetos products and packaging images will appear -- making it easier to retrieve and record nutritional information. Did you select the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos from the vending machine? The baked kind? Puffs, maybe? Or the classic -- the crunchy?
After you decide on the variation of your Cheetos, or food, then enter in the serving size as well as the amount of the serving size (which automatically sets to one package in this instance). Also enter in the time you consumed the product. When you’re finished, click the gold “I Ate This” button.
Here’ s where the magic happens: with one click of “I Ate This,” the amount of your calories consumed and other nutritional information will automatically update on your page, or plate. The calorie and nutritional information will then populate the various fields on your profile, including a horizontal bar graph that indicates how many calories you have left for the day.
Continue to scroll down the page and the food log will appear. Foods are broken down into the unclassified (like snacks), as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner. So, you’re able to gain a sense of what you eat per meal as defined by specific nutritional content, including: calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbs, sugar, fiber and protein, simply by glancing at a chart.
This information is collectively displayed in two other ways, according to net calories by day and intake totals. The information for the daily net calories is at the right hand side of the page, midway down. It is a bar graph that indicates your caloric intake per day and is posted in comparison to six other days. The red line at the top of the chart indicates your goal line. Stay under it and you’re doing great; go over and you’re swimming in the danger zone.
The intake numbers, on the other hand, are displayed according to daily, weekly and monthly caloric totals in chart form. So you can see how many calories and other nutritional content (categorized according to cholesterol and so on, as mentioned above) you’ve consumed in the numerical sense.
What is the potential downfall to the system? Well, you have to enter in everything that you eat. But, as nutritionist after nutritionist recommends, a food diary such as this is a healthy habit to get into if you’re looking to drop pants sizes. Not only are you aware of everything you’re putting into your mouth, but you’re aware of how it impacts your diet in the nutritional sense, too.
On a positive note, the application teaches users how to balance calories and nutrients, as well as portions. Myers-Landis explains that portion control was a huge part of her dieting plan, and she was always meticulous in measuring foods or weighing them on a food scale.
“It’s crazy how we think we know what a portion size is and then when we measure it, we realize we’re eating much more than we should have been. Now that I’ve measured so much, it’s easier for me to estimate what a healthy serving size is supposed to be,” she said.
For breakfast, Myers-Landis typically eats a fiber-rich cereal with skim milk. At lunch, she munches on a turkey and reduced fat cheese sandwich with mustard, which she often pairs with an apple. Dinner is usually a grilled, skinless chicken breast with broccoli and maybe some rice.
“I did still allow myself certain things like ice cream and French fries, but I usually only indulged in these items during my cheat day that I had once a week,” she states.
LIVESTRONG.com is also a goldmine of other tools and resources. Map out exercise loops with the application featured on the page. Search an index of recipes if you’re looking for a healthy and quick dinner to whip up. Or, click on the Weight Goals tab to view your weight loss or weight gain history.
The Fitness tab on the page is user friendly as well, and it allows you to click on any number of listed exercise and physical activities for calorie and weight loss-tracking purposes. Hang drywall this past Sunday? Then select and add it to your plate to incorporate the calories burned, and note that you just burned 186 calories per hour.
So several dress-fittings later (to take the gown in), how did it feel to walk down the aisle as a healthier, happier bride? “It felt absolutely incredible to put on a dress that I worked so hard to look good in,” Myers-Landis said, “I felt so beautiful and special.”
Husband Andrew adds, “I would still marry her if she didn’t lose weight, but she’s a lot more confident now. I’m so proud of her, and she looks great.”