Logging accuracy, consistency, and you're probably eating more than you think.


For most of my online clients, when fat loss stalls the first thing I will tend to examine are logging habits for consistency and accuracy. It's pretty common for people to under-report food intake and there's multiple pieces of research demonstrating that.


Speaking from my experiences dieting, back when I was tracking intake any time I would hit a plateau the first thing I would examine would be tracking accuracy and most often this would solve the problem. I was simply eating more than I thought I was and I realize this happens and I make efforts to correct this. Now of course sometimes you also have to make adjustments to intake/activity, but over long periods of dieting it's very easy for additional inaccuracies to start popping up. Taking a nibble of this or that, not using the food scale, eyeballing certain portions, completely neglecting to log a certain item, not logging various supplements or beverages or condiments -- all of these things can stack up to a substantial difference in what is logged vs what is actually consumed.

Logging consistency is another often neglected component to this. You may be logging 1500 calories per day for 11 days followed by missing a weekend here or there, or missing entire meals on certain days, etc.

I'd like to make an important point about this that typically gets missed in the forums when this is brought up. I don't believe that logging inaccuracies are necessarily a function of honesty. They CAN be, but what I mean by this is that you are not necessarily being accused of being dishonest or lacking integrity if it is pointed out to you that you're not actually eating 900 calories and not losing weight. There are a variety of reasons that logging can be inaccurate but this happens to well intentioned and honest people.

Here are some good pieces of info:

http://weightology.net/weightologyweekly/?page_id=379


https://gokaleo.com/2014/09/05/the-real-issue



http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12396160

The dietitians underreported their energy intake obtained from the food records by an average of 223 +/- 116 kcal/day, which was not different from their energy expenditure. Participants in the control group, as hypothesized, significantly underreported their energy intake (429 +/- 142 kcal/day, P < .05).


http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199212313272701

The failure of some obese subjects to lose weight while eating a diet they report as low in calories is due to an energy intake substantially higher than reported and an overestimation of physical activity, not to an abnormality in thermogenesis. (N Engl J Med 1992; 327:1893–8.)

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Replies

  • Liftng4Lis
    Liftng4Lis Posts: 15,151 Member
    Awesome info, thanks SS!
  • deninevi
    deninevi Posts: 934 Member
    Great!
  • Another great post
  • CallMeCupcakeDammit
    CallMeCupcakeDammit Posts: 9,517 Member
    In for another awesome post.
  • jkal1979
    jkal1979 Posts: 1,897 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Jruzer wrote: »
    Sticky?

    This needs to be read by every person -- there are several daily -- who claim that they can't lose weight despite eating at some low calorie level and "measuring and weighing everything." Inaccurate logging is a much more likely cause of these problems than hormonal or other medical issues. (Not that these problems don't exist.)

    Agreed. And as an aside it's another reason why you can't necessarily assume someone is eating a given number of calories just because they claim they eat a given number of calories.

    So for example if someone says "I'm eating 1200 calories and I can't lose" you can't necessarily assume that they are actually eating 1200 calories.

    This is usually what I come across when helping people when they say they can't lose. Either their diary is very inconsistent or they later admit that they aren't logging everything.

  • bwogilvie
    bwogilvie Posts: 2,130 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12396160

    The dietitians underreported their energy intake obtained from the food records by an average of 223 +/- 116 kcal/day, which was not different from their energy expenditure. Participants in the control group, as hypothesized, significantly underreported their energy intake (429 +/- 142 kcal/day, P < .05).

    Amen to this. In my first few weeks on MFP I was missing about 200 calories a day, between overestimating exercise and underestimating food. I had a 750 calorie deficit set, so I was still losing weight at a reasonable rate, but it did open my eyes to how easy it was to make a mistake. That now serves me in good stead, as I approach my goal weight and have a much smaller daily deficit planned.
  • WalkingAlong
    WalkingAlong Posts: 4,926 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    ... completely neglecting to log a certain item, not logging various supplements or beverages or condiments -- all of these things can stack up to a substantial difference in what is logged vs what is actually consumed.

    Logging consistency is another often neglected component to this. You may be logging 1500 calories per day for 11 days followed by missing a weekend here or there, or missing entire meals on certain days, etc..
    Good point, especially these above. People often think they can look at someone's diary and tell how well they're logging based on the units of measure and such, but a reader has no way of knowing what they didn't log, which is probably a bigger source of error than using a cup measurement vs. a scale.

    I just hate to say people think that using a food scale automatically means good logging, and that not using one automatically means bad.

  • Kalikel
    Kalikel Posts: 9,626 Member
    I am not eating more than I think.
  • WalkingAlong
    WalkingAlong Posts: 4,926 Member
    Good point, especially these above. People often think they can look at someone's diary and tell how well they're logging based on the units of measure and such, but a reader has no way of knowing what they didn't log, which is probably a bigger source of error than using a cup measurement vs. a scale.

    I just hate to say people think that using a food scale automatically means good logging, and that not using one automatically means bad.
    You also can't assume that because an entry in someone's diary lists the measurement in cups that the person doesn't weigh their food. I use many entries from the database that are accurate (i.e., match the package label), but the person who created them used the volume measurement rather than the weight measurement when both are given on the package, e.g., 1/2 cup (113 g) for cottage cheese. I can weigh my cottage cheese and divide by the grams in a serving size to determine how much I'm serving myself, and still use that entry, and it doesn't mean I'm being inaccurate.
    Also a good point.

  • malibu927
    malibu927 Posts: 17,568 Member
    Good point, especially these above. People often think they can look at someone's diary and tell how well they're logging based on the units of measure and such, but a reader has no way of knowing what they didn't log, which is probably a bigger source of error than using a cup measurement vs. a scale.

    I just hate to say people think that using a food scale automatically means good logging, and that not using one automatically means bad.
    You also can't assume that because an entry in someone's diary lists the measurement in cups that the person doesn't weigh their food. I use many entries from the database that are accurate (i.e., match the package label), but the person who created them used the volume measurement rather than the weight measurement when both are given on the package, e.g., 1/2 cup (113 g) for cottage cheese. I can weigh my cottage cheese and divide by the grams in a serving size to determine how much I'm serving myself, and still use that entry, and it doesn't mean I'm being inaccurate.

    That's not an issue, because I do it too. It's the people who are ALWAYS logging perfectly even amounts (1/2 cup, 100 grams, 1 egg, etc.) because they aren't weighing and assume that's what they're eating.
  • Kalikel
    Kalikel Posts: 9,626 Member
    Good point, especially these above. People often think they can look at someone's diary and tell how well they're logging based on the units of measure and such, but a reader has no way of knowing what they didn't log, which is probably a bigger source of error than using a cup measurement vs. a scale.

    I just hate to say people think that using a food scale automatically means good logging, and that not using one automatically means bad.
    You also can't assume that because an entry in someone's diary lists the measurement in cups that the person doesn't weigh their food. I use many entries from the database that are accurate (i.e., match the package label), but the person who created them used the volume measurement rather than the weight measurement when both are given on the package, e.g., 1/2 cup (113 g) for cottage cheese. I can weigh my cottage cheese and divide by the grams in a serving size to determine how much I'm serving myself, and still use that entry, and it doesn't mean I'm being inaccurate.
    I used to do that. Pain in the rear! Grams into ounces, ounces into the serving size. Ugh.

    If you manually enter the cottage cheese into "My Foods" with the grams, not only can you enter grams, but the option for One Gram will magically appear, so then you can just enter the 89 or whatever it is. And it will always be in My Foods. :)

    I mention this only because I found it so helpful and not to criticize you!
  • Kalikel
    Kalikel Posts: 9,626 Member
    edited October 2014
    Kalikel wrote: »
    Good point, especially these above. People often think they can look at someone's diary and tell how well they're logging based on the units of measure and such, but a reader has no way of knowing what they didn't log, which is probably a bigger source of error than using a cup measurement vs. a scale.

    I just hate to say people think that using a food scale automatically means good logging, and that not using one automatically means bad.
    You also can't assume that because an entry in someone's diary lists the measurement in cups that the person doesn't weigh their food. I use many entries from the database that are accurate (i.e., match the package label), but the person who created them used the volume measurement rather than the weight measurement when both are given on the package, e.g., 1/2 cup (113 g) for cottage cheese. I can weigh my cottage cheese and divide by the grams in a serving size to determine how much I'm serving myself, and still use that entry, and it doesn't mean I'm being inaccurate.
    I used to do that. Pain in the rear! Grams into ounces, ounces into the serving size. Ugh.

    If you manually enter the cottage cheese into "My Foods" with the grams, not only can you enter grams, but the option for One Gram will magically appear, so then you can just enter the 89 or whatever it is. And it will always be in My Foods. :)

    I mention this only because I found it so helpful and not to criticize you!

    I would love to do my food in grams but my digital scale doesn't use grams...it only uses ounces...
    Oh.

    In my best Emily Litella voice, "Nevermind." :smiley:

    (And if you don't know who she was, you should! https://screen.yahoo.com/weekend-emily-litella-violins-tv-000000080.html )