I was a very athletic teen and young twenties guy. I was blessed with a great metabolism and loved to work out. Subsequently, I had a strong core and was fairly tone. Sadly, this genetic advantage did not help me to learn good eating habits and I was a human garbage disposal. My family actually called me the raccoon of the family, because I would finish all their meals when we went out to dinner. This all changed as I got a bit older.
I spent years trying to get my six-pack back and did every stomach exercise you can imagine. I even did ones you could not imagine and I had a flat stomach, but not the six-pack I wanted. I never took into account the food I was eating. Although I was doing protein shakes and eating healthy foods, I was still loading the calories. I would still have my cheat days and even justify the extra calories by saying I was eating good and working out the other days.
Calorie intake is huge! Some estimate it to be 40% of the workout routine. For example, an active 18 year-old male can handle upwards of 3,200 calories with no issue; however that needs to drop below 3,000 in his twenties. Females are able to maintain 2,400 calories with a very active lifestyle until around the 30 year-old mark. Although, females are usually more conscious of the quality of calories they take in than men are.
I have used two tools right on my iPhone to help open my eyes to the issue. Apps called Lose It! and Fitbit have helped me to get my calories under control. These apps allow you to track what you eat with very little effort and allow you to see the intake of calories and pace yourself throughout the day.
Lose IT! allows you to use your log to track food and exercise. Just tap the add mark, select what meal you are eating, and then search for the food. You can even scan bar codes right off of the package and it knows all of the nutritional data already. It is very user friendly. Then as you log exercises, it will discount those burned calories and allow you to enjoy a treat if you like. This app saves all of the food you have eaten and you can pull them up the next time you eat it in seconds.
I started using the Fitbit app because I received a Fitbit Force bracelet and the Lose It! app wanted to charge monthly fees to sync the two. I don’t do fees. This app automatically keeps track of all the calories burned through your motions tracked by the fitness bracelet. You just have to add the foods. The available brands on this app are better than Lose It! but the recently ate food database is not as good.
Both apps have you set goals and track your progress. Get the core you want by taking control of your calories!
(Photo courtesy of Felipe Daniel Reis)