Online food tracker

Suppose you’ve looked at some videos, read about the many health benefits of low carb, high healthy fat and have decided to try it for yourself. How do you tell how much fat, protein, and fibrous carbohydrate to eat?

The LCHF lifestyle is about eating real, whole food until you’re satisfied, and then not eating any more. There’s no need to count the calories of every component of your meal.

If you’re used to preparing food, you’ll probably be good at the hand-eye method of gauging how many calories are on your plate.

If you’re not so experienced, you’ll need to measure your food for a while, until you get used to the amounts.

LCHF is not meant to be difficult. Just stay away from starchy carbohydrates, and sugary foods and drinks. Get your carbs from green leafy vegetables and salads, eat a lot of healthy fat, and a moderate amount of protein. Stop eating when you’re full, and don’t eat if you’re not hungry.

For the last couple of weeks I have been using a free online facility to record what I eat and drink. I enter the quantities as spoon sizes, cups, or weight and the software calculates the percentage of calories coming from protein, fat, and carbohydrate.

It also shows how many vitamin and mineral nutrients I’m getting from my meals, which is very good to know, too.

I don’t want to lose weight, but I do want to have all the health benefits of the low-carb, high-healthy-fat lifestyle. So, I’ve set the counters to maintain my present weight and the tracker has helped me to see how many calories I need from protein, fat, and carbs each day to stay on the LCHF track, while maintaining my weight.

My brother wants to lose some weight, so he’s entered how much weight he wants to lose each week, and the programme helps him to adjust the food quantities to achieve his weight-loss goal.

The version we’re using is from Dr Mercola, who has worked with the website owner to modify the application so it automatically calculates for a low-carb, healthy-fat lifestyle.

It’s very easy to use. At first you’re asked to enter details like your age, gender, height, activity level, and weight goal. After that, you’re good to go.

Enter your food amounts each day and you’ll easily see if you’re on track. If you want, you can also enter things like blood pressure, pulse, weight, height, and any exercise you do.

There’s an app for Apple or Android users, which presumably would make recording each meal much more convenient on-the-go. The Android one is currently RM8.77 and the iTunes one is $2.99.

Unfortunately there’s not an app for my BlackBerry Passport, so I can’t describe how the app works. The free online version works well in the BlackBerry browser though, and on my Samsung tablet, too.

The tracker has been a really helpful tool for me to get started low-carb, high-fat. I had intended to use it just long enough to familiarise myself with the quantities of the various foods I eat, and from then on rely on the hand-eye method, but it’s so interesting to explore the effects of different foods, I’ll continue using it for quite a while yet.

If you’re good at the hand-eye method, you don’t really need the tracker. If you’re not good at judging food quantities it will certainly help you get your new LCHF lifestyle off to a good start.

You can sign up for free at www.cronometer.com/mercola so nip over and give it a test drive.

free food tracker at cronometer.com/mercola