Understanding Your Cravings

Whether it’s salty, chocolate, sweets, meat or carbs, you’ve probably experienced the feeling of craving a specific food.

Sometimes cravings are  social. For example, when it’s #nationaldonutday and after the 10th image of a donut on Facebook, you’ve GOT to have one. Other times, a craving is a red flag. We crave what our body needs.

Here’s a guide to what these cravings might be telling you and how to satisfy them (without binging on peanut butter pretzels):

 

Craving: Salty

What it might mean: Low sodium. This can happen to athletes and active people who sweat a lot. Salt also helps the body retain water, so it’s common to crave salt when we’re dehydrated.

Satisfy with: Start with drinking lot’s of water and electrolyte rich liquids like coconut water. If that doesn’t do the trick, try adding more sea salt or Himalayan salt to your food for a couple days. Instead of salty popcorn or chips, try celery (which has a natural salty flavor) with peanut butter and sea salt.

 

Craving: Chocolate

What it might mean: Low magnesium. Cacao the main ingredient in chocolate is rich in magnesium.

Satisfy with: Chocolate! Try organic dark chocolate with 50-70% cocoa. Add unsweetened cocoa powder to a smoothie or make chocolate chia pudding.

 

Craving: Carbs (pasta, bagels, bread)

What it might mean: You’re hungry. Carbs are the human body’s preferred form of fuel. So when we get hungry, we crave the quickest form of energy for our bodies to use: carbs. Craving carbs could also mean you’re stressed or sad. Carbs are the ultimate comfort food (hello mac n’ cheese) so if you’re constantly cravings carbs even when you’re fed, take a look at your emotional state.

Satisfy with: If you’re craving carbs because you’re hungry or just haven’t eaten enough carbs, (aim for about 2 cups of whole food carbs per day) try a baked sweet potato. Other carbohydrate rich whole foods are whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. If you’re craving carbs because your stressed, sad or tired ,try a non-food approach like going for a walk, calling a friend or heading out to your BCSF class to sweat it out.

 

Craving: Red meat

What it might mean: If you’ve been dreaming of a juicy steak or burger, you might be low in iron and/or B12.

Satisfy with: Instead of a greasy diner burger or steak, buy some organic and grass-fed beef or bison at the store and cook at home. If you’re vegan or vegetarian start a B12 supplement and multivitamin with iron.

 

Craving: Sweets (cookies, candy, sugar)

What it means: See carbs.
Satisfy with: Fresh fruit (apples with cinnamon and peanut butter, tangerines, banana or berries). Click here to see what our BCSF trainers reach for for their sweet tooth (like trainer Valeries’ idea for Trader Joe’s “just dried mango”).

 

How do you satisfy your cravings? Are you a salty/savory person or a sweet/chocolate person? Tell us in the comments below, we’d love to hear.

20 Minute Cauliflower Lentil Tacos

Healthy, 20 minute tacos?

Yes, you heard us right.

Lentil Tacos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This taco filling made from lentils and cauliflower makes for a hearty, vegetable meal that satisfies when you’re craving tacos (and who doesn’t crave a good taco dinner every once in a while?).

Served in a fresh corn tortilla and garnished with your favorite taco toppings, you’ll have a tasty, healthy alternative to greasy restaurant tacos.

To make this recipe come together in under 20, you can use either pre-cooked lentils (we love the ones from Trader Joes) or your own cooked lentils. For a spicy finishing touch, try mixing 1 teaspoon of the liquid from chipotle peppers canned in adobo with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt.

Try these tacos for your next meatless Monday meal, busy weeknight dinner or lazy Saturday lunch. Either way, they’re sure to please!

Ingredients
(makes about 3 cups of filling or about 6 servings)
1 head cauliflower
2 cups pre-cooked lentils
1 yellow onion
1 jalapeno
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs. Chili powder
1 Tsp. Cumin
1 Tsp. Smoked Paprika
Salt to taste

Organic corn tortillas

Optional Toppings:
Avocado
Cilantro
Greek yogurt or sour cream
Tomato
Salsa
Lime

Directions
1. Prepare the cauliflower by grating with a cheese grater or pulsing in a food processor to break up into small pieces (should be the consistency of like bigger rice)
2. Heat a large skillet and saute diced  onion with a little oil or broth until clear
4. Add cauliflower, garlic and spices and continue to saute until cauliflower is done (about 5 more minutes)
5. Add cooked lentils and saute until all ingredients are warmed and mixed
6. To serve, spoon into corn tortilla and garnish with toppings of choice

*image via cookieandkate, recipe modified from Kate’s Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos

What Your Trainer Eats: Favorite Weeknight Dinners

We know that at the end of the day, dinner is the easiest meal to reach for quick and easy fixes….ahem we’re looking at you frozen pizza.

Like you, our trainers have busy schedules with early mornings and late nights. So when it comes to getting no-fuss, healthy meals into their bodies – these guys are pro’s.

We asked our trainers to share their go-to meals for busy weeknights, favorite healthy restaurants and what they reach for when they have a sweet tooth.

(For more trainer inspiration, check out your trainers favorite healthy breakfasts)

Tracy
Favorite weeknight dinner: Lemony Pan Fried chickpeas and chard with a sunny side egg on top of it. I cut up some avocado on the side and steam some broccoli to go with it too. It’s fast, healthy, easy and delicious.
Favorite spot for a healthy bite out: Nopalito since you can get a meal that is somewhat healthy. I love the Chicken Consomme with vegetables, and fresh avocado cut up in it.
Favorite after dinner sweet fix: A square of dark chocolate dipped into a spoonful of peanut butter. It’s a homemade reese’s peanut butter cup without any work!

Tyler
Favorite weeknight dinner: Black bean burgers on a whole wheat bun and avocado…super yummy and healthy. Or a salad with power greens, feta, walnuts, cranberries and avocado with a lemon dressing.
Favorite spot for a healthy bite out: Pacific catch. They have great fish and shrimp tacos, healthy salad bowls and lots of fresh seafood.
Favorite after dinner sweet fix: Homemade chocolate chip cookies or strawberry shortcake!

Lee
Favorite weeknight dinner: As a vegan, my go-to meal is baked tofu with a big side salad with teriyaki dressing.
Favorite spot for a healthy bite out: Eatsa. They make the best quinoa bowls and are fast and cheap. My favorite is the burrito bowl.
Favorite after dinner sweet fix: Cliff bars! They’re sweet and sustaining.

Katy
Favorite weeknight dinner: Anything I can make in advance and reheat is a winner for me when it comes to busy days or weeks. My favorite make ahead recipe is Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja.  It’s 15 minutes of hands-on work and you let it cook while you’re out all day working, training with BCSF, running errands, or spending time with loved ones.
Favorite spot for a healthy bite out: I love all things seafood!  Pacific Catch is a regular staple for when fellow trainer Tyler and I grab dinner to catch up with each other!  I like the salmon sandwich (no aioli) either with salad or sweet potato fries.
Favorite after dinner sweet fix: Frozen yogurt topped with strawberries and/or dark chocolate nibs. For something a little lighter, I like fresh berries with Light Cool Whip on top.

Rebecca
Favorite weeknight dinner: Throwing together a salad with whatever is in the fridge (usually feta, baby arugula, kale and spinach, avocado and tomatoes from the garden) and grilling up some chicken to slice up and put on top.  It’s quick, generally doesn’t involve a trip to the store and fairly balanced.
Favorite spot for a healthy bite out: I love big salads filled with lots of goodies so Blue Barn is my favorite go-to healthy lunch or dinner.  I normally get the beets and green (no dressing) which is filled with beets, seasonal berries (antioxidants rich), goat cheese, nuts (protein, yay!) and caramelized onions.  It’s delicious, filling and clean.
Favorite after dinner sweet fix: I love sweets so I’d have to say either a homemade chocolate oatmeal chip cookie or fro-yo from Loving Cup

Valerie
Favorite weeknight dinner:  Grilled salmon and asparagus. Or homemade Mac and “Cheese” made with cauliflower and carrots for the “cheese sauce” – the kids love it.
Favorite spot for a healthy bite out: Judahlicious on Judah. They have the best smoothies and acai bowls.
Favorite after dinner sweet fix: Trader Joe’s “just dried mango” or (if I am feeling really naughty) a slice of my husband’s famous banana bread.

Molly
Favorite weeknight dinner: Anything I can make in a slow cooker. I throw all my ingredients in after my morning classes, and come home to a warm meal after my evening classes. Right now, I am making my Paleo Pumpkin Chili all the time.
Favorite spot for a healthy bite out: Takeout from Burma Super Star.  I love their fermented tea leaf salad.
Favorite after dinner sweet fix: Dark chocolate. I also have tea almost every night which helps with a sweet craving. Licorice, peppermint and herbal chai are my favorite.

Easy Almond Gingerbread Bites

Looking for an easy treat for your holiday potlucks and parties? Feel like making a festive dessert, but know that those christmas cookies leave you feeling overdosed on sugar?

Today’s recipe has got you covered.

If you like the sweet, spicy holiday flavors of gingerbread, you’ll love this recipe.

Gingerbread Bites

These little gingerbread bites contain NO sugar or refined sweeteners, flour or dairy. They’re so healthy you could even have them as a pre or post workout bite.

The best part?

They don’t require any baking or complicated ingredients.

Simple, easy and nutrient dense, these will become your new favorite holiday treat.

Ingredients (makes about 18)
2 Cups raw mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, brazil)
6 Soft medjool dates, roughly chopped
2 Tbs unsulphered blackstrap molasses
1 Tsp. Cinnamon
1 Inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Ground nutmeg and cloves to taste (a dash or two)
Dash Himalayan or sea salt
Shredded coconut for rolling

Directions
Pulse nuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped (should resemble gravel)
Add all other ingredients, except coconut and process until smooth dough forms
Scooping out into 1 inch balls, roll in shredded coconut
Store in fridge (will last 7-10 days)
Recipes like these are a great healthy swap for flour and sugar filled treats.  Try making them for your office party, holiday dinner or cookie exchange. They’ll such a hit that no one will even notice they’re healthy.

Happy Holidays!

(photo via momowellness.com)

4 Tips To Improve Digestion And Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner

It’s 6pm after Thanksgiving dinner…how do you feel?

Stuffed? Bloated? Uncomfortable? Sick?

It’s all too common to eat too much, too quickly on this much anticipated meal. The result is that infamous Thanksgiving “food coma” that we all blame on the rich food.

But is it really the food itself, or is it how we eat it?

So much of how we feel after a meal has to do with what happens after we eat.

With these tips,  you’ll be able to walk away from Thanksgiving dinner feeling comfortable and satisfied.

Here are Molly’s 4 top tips to improve your digestion to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.


Tip #1: Chew Your Food. We know this sounds silly as you’re probably thinking “well, of course I chew my food”. But we mean REALLY chew your food. Ideally, your food should be almost liquid before swallowing.

Why it works: The first step of digestion is in your mouth. Not only do you physically break down your food by chewing, but the digestive enzymes in your saliva begin to chemically break down carbohydrates and proteins. The more you chew, the more you mix these enzymes with your food and kick start the digestive process.


Tip #2: Put your fork down between bites. Similar to tip #1, the idea is to slow down. While we all know that slowing down to eat is a good habit, it can be hard to put into practice (especially when we’re hungry or it’s a special meal like Thanksgiving) Getting into the habit of putting down your fork in between bites and allowing yourself to chew and swallow before picking up the fork again will help you eat slower and more mindfully.

Why it works: According the psychology of eating, slower eating means a faster metabolism. When we eat too fast, the body isn’t able to fire up digestion, absorb nutrients or correctly moderate hunger hormones to signal fullness.


Tip #3: Start with something sour or bitter. If there is any food that is naturally sour or bitter (think citrus vinaigrette, bitter greens like arugula or vegetable stalks) eat those first. Alternatively, you can create the same effect by taking 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar before eating.

Why it works: The human digestive system is triggered by sour and bitter flavors. This is because we evolved eating the bitter flavors found in nature, such as greens, barks and herbs. However, the standard palette of sweet and salty can leave the digestive system behind. Jump starting your digestive enzymes (from the stomach, pancreas and gallbladder) to help increase the effectiveness and comfort of your digestion.


Tip #4: Move a little. While you don’t want to go for a run or even a walk right after eating, a leisurely walk 30-60 minutes after a big meal has been shown to improve digestion.

Why it Works: When we eat, our blood sugar increases. This spike in blood sugar is taxing on the body’s systems. In other words, the body doesn’t like high blood sugar and has to work hard to bring it back down. One way to help use the excess blood sugars is by moving. This will allow the body to spend it’s energy on other tasks, like digesting your food.


Pick one or more of these tips to practice at your Thanksgiving table and see how much it improves your digestion during and after your meal.  Which one will you be trying? We’d love to hear! Share by making a comment in the section below.

Guide To Sweeteners

Remember when agave syrup was all the rage? Today, you might be hearing more and more about coconut sugar.

But are these alternatives really healthy choices?

It can be confusing.

Especially when it comes to baking and cooking at home.

So whether you’re baking a dish for a potluck or your favorite holiday recipe, we’ve listed the pro’s and con’s of common sweeteners. From sweeteners to avoid to the more nutritional choices, we’ll show you how to substitute each of these alternatives in your go-to recipes.

Reduce List: Sucrose / high fructose sweeteners
Refined white sugar: Conventional table sugar, or sucrose, is derived from sugarcane or sugar beet and processed through heat, chemical purification, and bleaching. This type of sugar is highly processed, high glycemic and no nutrients.

Brown sugar: White sugar plus molasses. (We know! We were shocked too.)

Organic sugar: The same as table sugar, but derived from non-GMO beets or sugarcane. While avoiding GMO’s is a plus, organic sugar is nutritionally the same as table sugar.

Agave syrup: Despite it’s claims as healthy alternative to sweeteners due to it’s low glycemic index, agave is on our avoid list. It’s a refined and processed syrup made from cactus with a molecular structure similar to high fructose corn syrup (90% fructose). Cheaper brands and quality may even contain high fructose corn syrup.

Better list: Low / no fructose
Coconut (Palm) sugar: Low on the glycemic index, minimally processed and still contains some nutrients. However, still high in fructose (up to 50%). This is the easiest alternative to white sugar as it doesn’t change the recipes.
-Use  1:1 in recipes that call for regular sugar.

Brown rice syrup: Made by breaking down and cooking rice until it becomes syrup leaving complex carbohydrates, maltose and a small amount of glucose. This makes brown rice syrup popular a low/no fructose option. Although it can be hard to find good quality brands.
-Use 1-1 1/4 cups in place of sugar in recipes and reduce liquid by 1/4 cup.

Honey: Therapeutically used for allergies, honey contains many healing minerals and qualities. Quality is the factor that determines if this sweetener is “healthy” or not. Pure, raw and organic darker honeys have great antioxidant content. Good to sweeten beverages and drizzle onto snacks. But when using for baking, can lose most of it’s nutrients. However, honey is still high fructose at 40%.
-Use 1/2 the amount of honey to sugar in recipes, add 1/2 tsp of baking soda per cup of honey and reduce baking temperature by 25 degrees F.

Maple Syrup: Like honey, this sweetener is high fructose (40%) but it can be argued that it contains a good amount of some vitamins and minerals. Grade B and C contain more nutrients than the more processed and cheaper Grade A. Unless it’s labeled “pure” it may be mixed with corn syrup or other sweeteners. Maple syrup is a good sweetener choice for baking and heating.
– Use 1/2 to 2/3 cups maple syrup for each cup of sugar and reduce liquid by 1/4 cup.

Stevia: Derived from the stevia plant, stevia powder has low/no effect on blood sugar and also no calories making it a good option for those watching their glycemic index or caloric intake. However, like honey, quality is what determines the health factor. Look for pure and organic. Stevia has a distinct taste and is hard to use in baked goods since it’s  300x sweeter than sugar. However, it can be a good tool for those transitioning off of sugar and sweets.
– 1 tsp of finely ground stevia is about equal to 1 cup of sugar. However, stevia isn’t recommended to be subbed for sugar in recipes that don’t call for stevia as the sweetener already.

Best Choice List: Sweet Whole Foods
Bananas /Dates / Fruit: There are many recipes for cookies, brownies, and cakes  that use unrefined whole foods as the main sweetener. While bananas and dates are high in fructose they contain the fiber that slows down the glycemic response, unlike the above condensed sweeteners. They also contain enough nutrients to support their metabolism. Berries are the lowest fructose fruit.

Spices: Sweet spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves can help give the illusion of sweet. Try adding cinnamon to coffee or tea instead of sugars.

Coconut: Coconut has a naturally sweet and nutty taste that can help satisfy a sweet tooth. Try using shredded coconut on top of oatmeal or using coconut oil saute banana slices for a caramelized treat.

Save this guide for the next time you’ll be baking your favorite cookie or dessert. Or even better, try bringing a no sugar option like a berry crisp or fruit salad to your next potluck or party.

Mason Jar Burrito Bowls

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Our last blog post talked all about tips on how to stay healthy despite a busy schedule.

One of the main tools we discussed was setting aside a couple hours on the weekends to prep some healthy meals for the upcoming week.

Today, we want to share a recipe to help get you inspired: Mason Jar Burrito Bowls.

Mason jar salads are the easiest ways to prepare lot’s of food in a quick amount of time. The airtight seal keeps all the ingredients fresh, so that you can make enough to last the whole week.

With these burrito inspired, flavorful and hearty salads, you’ll never have an excuse for take-out lunch again.

Salad Ingredients
Chopped bell pepper
Cooked and cooled quinoa or riced cauliflower
Baked, cooled and cut sweet potato
Baked, cooled and cut organic chicken breast or black beans
Halved cherry tomatoes
Diced avocado
Chopped romaine lettuce

Dressing Ingredients
3 tbs rice vinegar
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 bunch parsley
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp maple syrup
juice of 1 lime
pinch salt

Equipment Needed
4-5 large, wide mouth mason jars

Directions

  1. Prep ingredients and dressing
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of dressing to the bottom of the jar
  3. Then layer in ingredients in the order listed above, starting with crunchy vegetables, followed by grains and proteins, then soft vegetables and lettuce on top
  4. Seal with lid and store in fridge for up to 1 week

Feel free to substitute different vegetables, proteins or greens. You could also take a look at some of these ideas for other flavor combinations.

These salads are also perfect to pack for work, school lunches or travel days.

Make 5-6 with your favorite ingredients and flavors and you’ll be set for a week of healthy, satisfying lunches.

(Photo + Recipe Credit: Momo Wellness)

How To Stay Healthy With A Busy Schedule

School’s back in full swing, the holiday season is looming, and the leisure of summer is long gone. This time of year can be one of the busiest as we all  adjust to new schedules.

Isn’t it true that one of the most common comments we hear in our day-to-day is “I’m just so busy right now“? Whether it’s to a fellow bootcamper after missing a class, a close friend or an acquaintance we run into in the grocery store, we all say it.

A full work schedule, kids, social lives….it all takes time. So where does healthy eating fit in when it feels like there aren’t enough minutes in the day to sit down, let alone eat a healthy meal?

You already know that signing up for bootcamp and scheduling those classes is the best way to fit your workouts in. So we’d like to give you some tools to help you manage a healthy diet with your busy schedule:

1. Meal Plan: When you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day, taking 20 minutes to plan your dinners for the week will be the best investment of your time.  If it’s 6pm and you don’t know what you’re having for dinner yet, chances are you’ll choose a meal based on convenience. Not always the healthiest choice, right? Meal planning takes all the stress out of “what’s for dinner tonight?” and avoids the guilt you’d feel after inhaling a big bowl of cheesy pasta just because it was quick to make. To get you started, you can download Trainer Molly Molofsky’s meal planning template and guide here.

2. Cook Once, Eat Twice: As much as a big dinner salad is a healthy choice, it’s hard to pack for leftovers the next day. Instead, choose dinner options that will make good leftovers. Soups, chili’s, roast chicken, ect. are all good choices. If you’re cooking for a family, you can double recipes or amounts and use leftovers for lunches. If you’re cooking for one or two, you can pack the leftovers for lunch or eat the same meal two days in a row.

3. Forget Recipes: Instead of spending an hour in the kitchen cooking an elaborate meal, stock your fridge and pantry with easy to assemble proteins, vegetables and sides. Then, create meals from what’s already ready to-go. For example a lunch of sliced turkey, avocado lettuce wraps or a dinner assembled from chopped tofu or tempeh with sauteed vegetables.

4. Meal Prep Days: Taking 2-3 hours during the weekend (or another evening when you have more time) to batch cook a couple recipes and/or sides is one of the only ways to manage a busy schedule without buying all your food out. Here’s some ideas for a meal prep day:

  • 1-2 proteins (roast chicken breast, sauteed ground meat, hard boil eggs,  baked tofu)
  • 1 whole grain like rice or quinoa
  • Batch of baked sweet potatoes
  • Wash and prep greens
  • Chop vegetables and fruit for snacks and pack into single servings

5. Crock Pot: Dust off that crockpot that’s gathering dust in the bottom shelf. It’s a secret weapon when it comes to preparing healthy meals on a tight schedule. Coming home to a ready-to-go warm dinner? Yes, please!

6. Go-To Snacks: Sometimes we all have days where just getting food on the plate or even remembering to eat can be a challenge. Make it a rule to keep your home stocked with healthy snacks so that if all else fails, at least you have something to grab quickly. Fresh fruit and a handful of nuts or veggies and hummus are quick options. Check out Thrive Market to stock up on healthy packaged snacks like veggie chips, jerky and trail mix.

7. H.I.I.T: When it comes to nutrition and fitness, doing something is better than doing nothing. If you miss your workouts because your schedule gets busy, remember that even a 10 minute workout still counts.

Bottom line: Just like scheduling those BCSF workouts into your week, schedule time to grocery shop, prep and set yourself up for success – you won’t regret it.

What are your favorite ways to stay on track during busy times? What are your go-to meals for busy nights?

12 Healthy Ideas For Breakfast

With school back in session and those lazy summer mornings coming to an end, we want to give you our best ideas for easy and quick breakfasts.

Breakfast can be the hardest meal to make healthy choices as we’re usually looking for something quick and easy. Here are 12 creative ideas to get you inspired to try something a little different.

We made sure each of these breakfasts are:

  • Balanced in macronutrients (containing protein, fat and carbohydrates)
  • Whole foods based (no processed ingredients or packaged foods)
  • Quick and simple for busy weekday mornings

1. Mini Green Frittatas . (Make ahead, perfect for busy weeks)

2. Savory Oatmeal. (For mornings when you want a savory meal)

3. Protein Smoothie. (Here’s how to make a macronutrient balanced smoothie.)

4. Chia Seed Pudding. (Quick, simple, nutritious)

5. Almond Butter + Quick Chia Jam  + Ezekiel Bread Toast. (Think PB&J with a healthy twist for adults)

6. Baked Eggs in Avocado. (Low carbohydrate, filling and easy)

7. Sausage + Vegetable Hash. (For when you’re burnt out on eggs)

8. Shakshuka .(For when the pantry is bare)

9. Banana Oat Blender Pancakes. (Pancakes without the clean up mess!)

10. Smoked Salmon + Avocado + Ezekiel Bread Toast. ( Quick, balanced and high in Omega 3 fatty acids)

11. Breakfast Salad (a healthy, travel friendly breakfast)

12. Leftover Soup (While some dinner leftovers aren’t usually appealing in the morning, try a simple chicken or lentil soup for dinner and have the leftovers for breakfast!)

What are your favorite weekday morning breakfast? What do you do to prepare healthy meals for busy mornings? Tell us on Facebook or in the comments below, we’d love to hear!

3 Things Your Fitness Tracker Is Missing

Do you track your food intake with an app like myfitnesspal or loseit?
Do you have a wearable tracker like a fitbit or jawbone that tracks your fitness for you?

If you said no to all of the above and you’ve never tried tracking your activity and food, we suggest giving it a whirl.

Why? Because, it can be one of the best ways to educate yourself on what you’re putting into your body.

However, it’s important to remember to take these tools are just that. Tools to help us get more in tune with our bodies so we can make healthier decisions.

But you’re not alone if you’ve been using an app like myfitnesspal for weight loss and are left scratching your head as to why the numbers and what you see in the mirror don’t match up.

These trackers are missing a couple factors that can leave a huge gap between what they calculate and what’s actually happening.

So before you start taking those “you’ll weigh x amount in x days” alerts too seriously, take a minute to consider these weight loss factors:

1. Quality and timing of food: According to food trackers, you could get 100% of your calories from fast food restaurants and as long as you used more calories than you consumed, you’d be on track for weight loss. This is a major fault in the belief that counting calories is the only way to lose weight. From a nutritional perspective, this type of thinking can lead to eating too many low calorie, low nutrient foods (popcorn, rice cakes, crackers, diet sodas ect.) As a nutrition counselor, I know that eating more nutrient dense foods (yes, even if they are higher calorie) can be the better choice for supporting metabolism and long term weight loss. Also, timing of food intake isn’t taken into account. Are you eating 3 square meals a day or are you starving yourself during the day and eating 80% of your food right before bed? You can see how these reports could quickly get very misleading. Remember to pay attention to what you eat and when and to listen to your body before you consider to your “stats”.

2. Intensity of exercise: Intensity of exercise matters. Sprinting up a set of stairs is going to have a very different effect on your metabolism than going for a walk or lifting weights. Most trackers only take into account total calorie burn, not the metabolic effect. Remember that most of these programs are estimates and take them as such.

3. Overall health and happiness: There are so many other factors that can affect health. Sleep, stress levels, hormones and nutrient deficiencies can all have an effect on weight loss. Remember that these programs and platforms aren’t made for you, they’re made for the masses. If you need or want specialized recommendations, it’s important to speak with a trainer, nutritionist or doctor.

So should we use these trackers?
Are you using this technology to help educate yourself and make better choices? If yes, then keep it up! Like I said, these tools can be a great way to learn about our bodies and our habits. With that said, if it’s making you feel stressed or overwhelmed, then it’s not the tool for you right now. Try journaling about your food choices, creating a simple weekly meal plan or find another way to get in tune with your food and fitness.

At the end of the day, put down the phone, the app, the stats and remember only you can make the best decisions for your health.