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Does the calorie deficit work?

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  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 20,253 Member Member, Premium Posts: 20,253 Member
    @Lietchi I have found I can't be 100 % accurate with some recipes because I can weigh all the ingridents that go in and what goes on my plate but it won't be absolute. For example I like making Stir-Fried veggies I cna measure all the different veggies but when I portion out the 6 servings or what have you I can't gurantee each plate has the exact amount of each veggie. So it is more of an average.

    Y'know what? In one recipe, on one night, you'll get fewer of the veggies, more of the meat. On aother night, you'll get more of the veggies, less of the meat. Over time, those overs and unders average out. It's fine to trust the recipes you carefully measure and weigh.

    They're small differences (numbers-wise) in the first place, and part of a bigger picture where all of this is estimates (one apple is sweeter than the next, so more calories by a few, right? 😉).

    It's good to be accurate (weigh ingredients, input those recipes, weigh your serving), but it's also totally fine to let the overs & unders average out, over time (body doesn't reset at midnight!). Structuring your process so that you stress about making sure you're under on every bit of intake, and over on every bit of calorie expenditure . . . it's not helpful, either to weight loss (via low energy from undereating, plus the misleading stress-related water weight) or to mental health.

    Be accurate, but no need to be tense or stressed or compulsive about it. Sometimes I see people here say they've stopped lots of their social life, because they can't be exactly exact in knowing calories when other people cook the food. Becoming a diet hermit is not a good way to go through life. Neither is obsessing about calorie differences that are trivial as compared with (say) a 500 calorie daily deficit for weight loss.

    Hang in there!
  • amyr271amyr271 Member Posts: 341 Member Member Posts: 341 Member
    SlSl12345 wrote: »
    @Lietchi I have found I can't be 100 % accurate with some recipes because I can weigh all the ingridents that go in and what goes on my plate but it won't be absolute. For example I like making Stir-Fried veggies I cna measure all the different veggies but when I portion out the 6 servings or what have you I can't gurantee each plate has the exact amount of each veggie. So it is more of an average.

    Measure the entire recipe in grams when complete. Put the weight in grams as your number of servings. Each time you take some, just weigh what you take. IE 200 grams would be 200 servings. Voila.

    Or, if you’re cooking just for you, it doesn’t matter much if each serving is exact because once you eat all of it, it will all have been accounted for in your diary. (More true if you’re eating it in the same week or so).

    How do you recommend weighing dishes? My scales are the small, "typical" kitchen scales and I don't know how I would measure a full 3/4 portion meal on there? Especially if it has multiple components?

    Do you have any tips?
  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member, Premium Posts: 25,741 Member Member, Premium Posts: 25,741 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    @Lietchi I have found I can't be 100 % accurate with some recipes because I can weigh all the ingridents that go in and what goes on my plate but it won't be absolute. For example I like making Stir-Fried veggies I cna measure all the different veggies but when I portion out the 6 servings or what have you I can't gurantee each plate has the exact amount of each veggie. So it is more of an average.

    Y'know what? In one recipe, on one night, you'll get fewer of the veggies, more of the meat. On aother night, you'll get more of the veggies, less of the meat. Over time, those overs and unders average out. It's fine to trust the recipes you carefully measure and weigh.

    They're small differences (numbers-wise) in the first place, and part of a bigger picture where all of this is estimates (one apple is sweeter than the next, so more calories by a few, right? 😉).

    It's good to be accurate (weigh ingredients, input those recipes, weigh your serving), but it's also totally fine to let the overs & unders average out, over time (body doesn't reset at midnight!). Structuring your process so that you stress about making sure you're under on every bit of intake, and over on every bit of calorie expenditure . . . it's not helpful, either to weight loss (via low energy from undereating, plus the misleading stress-related water weight) or to mental health.

    Be accurate, but no need to be tense or stressed or compulsive about it. Sometimes I see people here say they've stopped lots of their social life, because they can't be exactly exact in knowing calories when other people cook the food. Becoming a diet hermit is not a good way to go through life. Neither is obsessing about calorie differences that are trivial as compared with (say) a 500 calorie daily deficit for weight loss.

    Hang in there!

    I can share my experience here, which matches the advice above.

    Basically, I try to be as exact as reasonably possible while cooking (weighing dry ingredients, using database entries I feel confident in, not eyeballing things like oil, etc). Then when it's time to eat, I divide the meal into equal portions. I don't weigh the final version, I don't worry about one serving having a bit more tofu or potato than the other. Since I'm usually eating my own food, I know it will balance out. Even the stuff I'm sharing with other people, I know over a period of time it's going to balance out (one night I get 40 more calories from potatoes than the other serving has, but a week from now I'm probably going to have 40 calories less).

    This has worked for me since 2015. If my weight suddenly began behaving in an unexpected way, I might adjust my strategy, but my experience has shown me that in the context of my lifestyle, portioning out my FINAL serving by weight isn't necessary. That said, I know other people have found it helpful. I'm not discounting their experience, just adding mine.

    @AnnPT77 I knew I couldn't be the only person who has been eating a lackluster orange or melon and thought to myself that it couldn't have as many calories as the outstanding version I had the week before! :D
  • SlSl12345SlSl12345 Member Posts: 6 Member Member Posts: 6 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    @Lietchi I have found I can't be 100 % accurate with some recipes because I can weigh all the ingridents that go in and what goes on my plate but it won't be absolute. For example I like making Stir-Fried veggies I cna measure all the different veggies but when I portion out the 6 servings or what have you I can't gurantee each plate has the exact amount of each veggie. So it is more of an average.

    Y'know what? In one recipe, on one night, you'll get fewer of the veggies, more of the meat. On aother night, you'll get more of the veggies, less of the meat. Over time, those overs and unders average out. It's fine to trust the recipes you carefully measure and weigh.

    They're small differences (numbers-wise) in the first place, and part of a bigger picture where all of this is estimates (one apple is sweeter than the next, so more calories by a few, right? 😉).

    It's good to be accurate (weigh ingredients, input those recipes, weigh your serving), but it's also totally fine to let the overs & unders average out, over time (body doesn't reset at midnight!). Structuring your process so that you stress about making sure you're under on every bit of intake, and over on every bit of calorie expenditure . . . it's not helpful, either to weight loss (via low energy from undereating, plus the misleading stress-related water weight) or to mental health.

    Be accurate, but no need to be tense or stressed or compulsive about it. Sometimes I see people here say they've stopped lots of their social life, because they can't be exactly exact in knowing calories when other people cook the food. Becoming a diet hermit is not a good way to go through life. Neither is obsessing about calorie differences that are trivial as compared with (say) a 500 calorie daily deficit for weight loss.

    Hang in there!

    I can share my experience here, which matches the advice above.

    Basically, I try to be as exact as reasonably possible while cooking (weighing dry ingredients, using database entries I feel confident in, not eyeballing things like oil, etc). Then when it's time to eat, I divide the meal into equal portions. I don't weigh the final version, I don't worry about one serving having a bit more tofu or potato than the other. Since I'm usually eating my own food, I know it will balance out. Even the stuff I'm sharing with other people, I know over a period of time it's going to balance out (one night I get 40 more calories from potatoes than the other serving has, but a week from now I'm probably going to have 40 calories less).

    This has worked for me since 2015. If my weight suddenly began behaving in an unexpected way, I might adjust my strategy, but my experience has shown me that in the context of my lifestyle, portioning out my FINAL serving by weight isn't necessary. That said, I know other people have found it helpful. I'm not discounting their experience, just adding mine.

    @AnnPT77 I knew I couldn't be the only person who has been eating a lackluster orange or melon and thought to myself that it couldn't have as many calories as the outstanding version I had the week before! :D

    Just want to add that this is often what I do as well. I make a hearty soup and estimate the servings bc it’s just too cumbersome to weigh the final product. When I make desserts or heavier/more calorie dense dishes (or ones I know I’m likely to overeat) I do weigh out the final product. FWIW I only track half the time at this point anyway, but have used these techniques in the past or when I find myself being too lax with my diet.
  • LietchiLietchi Member Posts: 2,196 Member Member Posts: 2,196 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    @Lietchi I have found I can't be 100 % accurate with some recipes because I can weigh all the ingridents that go in and what goes on my plate but it won't be absolute. For example I like making Stir-Fried veggies I cna measure all the different veggies but when I portion out the 6 servings or what have you I can't gurantee each plate has the exact amount of each veggie. So it is more of an average.

    Y'know what? In one recipe, on one night, you'll get fewer of the veggies, more of the meat. On aother night, you'll get more of the veggies, less of the meat. Over time, those overs and unders average out. It's fine to trust the recipes you carefully measure and weigh.

    They're small differences (numbers-wise) in the first place, and part of a bigger picture where all of this is estimates (one apple is sweeter than the next, so more calories by a few, right? 😉).

    It's good to be accurate (weigh ingredients, input those recipes, weigh your serving), but it's also totally fine to let the overs & unders average out, over time (body doesn't reset at midnight!). Structuring your process so that you stress about making sure you're under on every bit of intake, and over on every bit of calorie expenditure . . . it's not helpful, either to weight loss (via low energy from undereating, plus the misleading stress-related water weight) or to mental health.

    Be accurate, but no need to be tense or stressed or compulsive about it. Sometimes I see people here say they've stopped lots of their social life, because they can't be exactly exact in knowing calories when other people cook the food. Becoming a diet hermit is not a good way to go through life. Neither is obsessing about calorie differences that are trivial as compared with (say) a 500 calorie daily deficit for weight loss.

    Hang in there!

    I can share my experience here, which matches the advice above.

    Basically, I try to be as exact as reasonably possible while cooking (weighing dry ingredients, using database entries I feel confident in, not eyeballing things like oil, etc). Then when it's time to eat, I divide the meal into equal portions. I don't weigh the final version, I don't worry about one serving having a bit more tofu or potato than the other. Since I'm usually eating my own food, I know it will balance out. Even the stuff I'm sharing with other people, I know over a period of time it's going to balance out (one night I get 40 more calories from potatoes than the other serving has, but a week from now I'm probably going to have 40 calories less).

    This has worked for me since 2015. If my weight suddenly began behaving in an unexpected way, I might adjust my strategy, but my experience has shown me that in the context of my lifestyle, portioning out my FINAL serving by weight isn't necessary. That said, I know other people have found it helpful. I'm not discounting their experience, just adding mine.

    It's really going to depend on the individual context. I share 99% percent of my (cooked) meals with my BF and equal portions really are not an option for us (either he would be 'starving' or I would be overeating). So I definitely need to weigh the total dish as well as my own portions. I would really like a simpler method, but for me it's just not a viable option 🙂
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 20,253 Member Member, Premium Posts: 20,253 Member
    SlSl12345 wrote: »
    amyr271 wrote: »
    SlSl12345 wrote: »
    @Lietchi I have found I can't be 100 % accurate with some recipes because I can weigh all the ingridents that go in and what goes on my plate but it won't be absolute. For example I like making Stir-Fried veggies I cna measure all the different veggies but when I portion out the 6 servings or what have you I can't gurantee each plate has the exact amount of each veggie. So it is more of an average.

    Measure the entire recipe in grams when complete. Put the weight in grams as your number of servings. Each time you take some, just weigh what you take. IE 200 grams would be 200 servings. Voila.

    Or, if you’re cooking just for you, it doesn’t matter much if each serving is exact because once you eat all of it, it will all have been accounted for in your diary. (More true if you’re eating it in the same week or so).

    How do you recommend weighing dishes? My scales are the small, "typical" kitchen scales and I don't know how I would measure a full 3/4 portion meal on there? Especially if it has multiple components?

    Do you have any tips?

    My scale is pretty small too I think, just a dinky little $10 thing I bought years ago. I put a big bowl on the scale, tare, and then dump in the final product. I’ve been known to bend over at eye level with the counter to try to see what the scale says.

    Alternatively, you can write down the weight of the bowl, add in all the ingredients, tare, then take the whole thing off. Subtract the weight of the bowl from the negative number shown on the scale and you have the weight of the recipe. Sounds like a pain but takes like 30 seconds in reality.

    If your scale can’t handle a large weight, personally I would just buy another scale if it’s economically feasible for you. Again, mine was around $10 on Amazon, nothing special, but does the trick. If that’s not an option, then just estimate number of servings and log accordingly. Accuracy is only important as it relates to helping you succeed, it’s not an achievement in and of itself. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Do the best with what you got!

    I've also seen some people here say they weighed their most commonly used pans & baking dishes, then taped a list of those weights inside a cupboard door near the scale for reference. (I don't do that, because I live alone and my cooking approaches don't require it, but I'd do it if I were cooking for a family.)
  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member, Premium Posts: 25,741 Member Member, Premium Posts: 25,741 Member
    SlSl12345 wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    @Lietchi I have found I can't be 100 % accurate with some recipes because I can weigh all the ingridents that go in and what goes on my plate but it won't be absolute. For example I like making Stir-Fried veggies I cna measure all the different veggies but when I portion out the 6 servings or what have you I can't gurantee each plate has the exact amount of each veggie. So it is more of an average.

    Y'know what? In one recipe, on one night, you'll get fewer of the veggies, more of the meat. On aother night, you'll get more of the veggies, less of the meat. Over time, those overs and unders average out. It's fine to trust the recipes you carefully measure and weigh.

    They're small differences (numbers-wise) in the first place, and part of a bigger picture where all of this is estimates (one apple is sweeter than the next, so more calories by a few, right? 😉).

    It's good to be accurate (weigh ingredients, input those recipes, weigh your serving), but it's also totally fine to let the overs & unders average out, over time (body doesn't reset at midnight!). Structuring your process so that you stress about making sure you're under on every bit of intake, and over on every bit of calorie expenditure . . . it's not helpful, either to weight loss (via low energy from undereating, plus the misleading stress-related water weight) or to mental health.

    Be accurate, but no need to be tense or stressed or compulsive about it. Sometimes I see people here say they've stopped lots of their social life, because they can't be exactly exact in knowing calories when other people cook the food. Becoming a diet hermit is not a good way to go through life. Neither is obsessing about calorie differences that are trivial as compared with (say) a 500 calorie daily deficit for weight loss.

    Hang in there!

    I can share my experience here, which matches the advice above.

    Basically, I try to be as exact as reasonably possible while cooking (weighing dry ingredients, using database entries I feel confident in, not eyeballing things like oil, etc). Then when it's time to eat, I divide the meal into equal portions. I don't weigh the final version, I don't worry about one serving having a bit more tofu or potato than the other. Since I'm usually eating my own food, I know it will balance out. Even the stuff I'm sharing with other people, I know over a period of time it's going to balance out (one night I get 40 more calories from potatoes than the other serving has, but a week from now I'm probably going to have 40 calories less).

    This has worked for me since 2015. If my weight suddenly began behaving in an unexpected way, I might adjust my strategy, but my experience has shown me that in the context of my lifestyle, portioning out my FINAL serving by weight isn't necessary. That said, I know other people have found it helpful. I'm not discounting their experience, just adding mine.

    @AnnPT77 I knew I couldn't be the only person who has been eating a lackluster orange or melon and thought to myself that it couldn't have as many calories as the outstanding version I had the week before! :D

    Just want to add that this is often what I do as well. I make a hearty soup and estimate the servings bc it’s just too cumbersome to weigh the final product. When I make desserts or heavier/more calorie dense dishes (or ones I know I’m likely to overeat) I do weigh out the final product. FWIW I only track half the time at this point anyway, but have used these techniques in the past or when I find myself being too lax with my diet.

    This is a great point -- you can use different options to reflect the calorie density of dishes. I should have mentioned when I make stuff like hummus or guacamole or desserts, I often do weigh them out because it's easier than eyeballing and there is a larger margin for error.
  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member, Premium Posts: 25,741 Member Member, Premium Posts: 25,741 Member
    Lietchi wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    @Lietchi I have found I can't be 100 % accurate with some recipes because I can weigh all the ingridents that go in and what goes on my plate but it won't be absolute. For example I like making Stir-Fried veggies I cna measure all the different veggies but when I portion out the 6 servings or what have you I can't gurantee each plate has the exact amount of each veggie. So it is more of an average.

    Y'know what? In one recipe, on one night, you'll get fewer of the veggies, more of the meat. On aother night, you'll get more of the veggies, less of the meat. Over time, those overs and unders average out. It's fine to trust the recipes you carefully measure and weigh.

    They're small differences (numbers-wise) in the first place, and part of a bigger picture where all of this is estimates (one apple is sweeter than the next, so more calories by a few, right? 😉).

    It's good to be accurate (weigh ingredients, input those recipes, weigh your serving), but it's also totally fine to let the overs & unders average out, over time (body doesn't reset at midnight!). Structuring your process so that you stress about making sure you're under on every bit of intake, and over on every bit of calorie expenditure . . . it's not helpful, either to weight loss (via low energy from undereating, plus the misleading stress-related water weight) or to mental health.

    Be accurate, but no need to be tense or stressed or compulsive about it. Sometimes I see people here say they've stopped lots of their social life, because they can't be exactly exact in knowing calories when other people cook the food. Becoming a diet hermit is not a good way to go through life. Neither is obsessing about calorie differences that are trivial as compared with (say) a 500 calorie daily deficit for weight loss.

    Hang in there!

    I can share my experience here, which matches the advice above.

    Basically, I try to be as exact as reasonably possible while cooking (weighing dry ingredients, using database entries I feel confident in, not eyeballing things like oil, etc). Then when it's time to eat, I divide the meal into equal portions. I don't weigh the final version, I don't worry about one serving having a bit more tofu or potato than the other. Since I'm usually eating my own food, I know it will balance out. Even the stuff I'm sharing with other people, I know over a period of time it's going to balance out (one night I get 40 more calories from potatoes than the other serving has, but a week from now I'm probably going to have 40 calories less).

    This has worked for me since 2015. If my weight suddenly began behaving in an unexpected way, I might adjust my strategy, but my experience has shown me that in the context of my lifestyle, portioning out my FINAL serving by weight isn't necessary. That said, I know other people have found it helpful. I'm not discounting their experience, just adding mine.

    It's really going to depend on the individual context. I share 99% percent of my (cooked) meals with my BF and equal portions really are not an option for us (either he would be 'starving' or I would be overeating). So I definitely need to weigh the total dish as well as my own portions. I would really like a simpler method, but for me it's just not a viable option 🙂

    Oh, yeah -- I didn't mean that people SHOULDN'T use other methods if it works better for them or there isn't a way to really do equal portions. I realize we're all in different situations. :)
  • sriley721sriley721 Member Posts: 63 Member Member Posts: 63 Member
    I think of calories like money. It's all in the bottom line. Like a bank account, money (calories from food) comes in from multiple sources and reasons and money goes ( calories burned) out for different reasons in a specific amount. Weight loss is like your bank account, calories in, calories burned. I hope my bank account is not in a deficit but my calorie balance stays in a deficit.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 20,253 Member Member, Premium Posts: 20,253 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    (self snippity long post)

    As mentioned above, it's important to realize that MFP and even fitness trackers may not only OVERestimate calorie needs or exercise calorie numbers, but it's also possible for them to UNDERestimate them (though it's unlikely the MFP exercise database will give an overestimate).

    (more snippity)

    Too late to edit, but I made a material error there that I want to correct: In the bolded, I should have (and meant to) type that the MFP exercise data base is unlikely to UNDERestimate exercise calories. It varies from entry to entry, but will tend to be high, IMO, for many things. It may not be unusably high - as some exercise machines or estimates on exercise videos can be - but it's more likely to be high than low.
  • totem12totem12 Member Posts: 191 Member Member Posts: 191 Member
    I think people misunderstand the concept of eating little and often 'increasing your metabolism'. It isn't like an engine that you rev up by eating - all it is is that, your metabolism (or the energy you expend) is made up of many things, one of which is the energy used to digest your food. In theory eating more often increases the amount of energy your body expends digesting, but the effect is so small as to be negligible. For example, meat takes longer to digest than vegetables, so would that not increase your metabolism? But vegetarians aren't all struggling with their weight.
  • ccrdragonccrdragon Member Posts: 2,977 Member Member Posts: 2,977 Member
    totem12 wrote: »
    I think people misunderstand the concept of eating little and often 'increasing your metabolism'. It isn't like an engine that you rev up by eating - all it is is that, your metabolism (or the energy you expend) is made up of many things, one of which is the energy used to digest your food. In theory eating more often increases the amount of energy your body expends digesting, but the effect is so small as to be negligible. For example, meat takes longer to digest than vegetables, so would that not increase your metabolism? But vegetarians aren't all struggling with their weight.

    To expand on this thought... whether you eat the calories in 1-2 meals or 6 meals composed of the same sorts of food, the TEF (thermic effect of food - the calories burned actually digesting the food) would still amount to the same value or very nearly so, so there is no net increase in TEF by splitting the food into smaller meals and eating more often.
  • AshHeartsJesusAshHeartsJesus Member Posts: 419 Member Member Posts: 419 Member
    It has probably been mentioned but ovulation and periods can mask weight loss or seem younaren't losing. Hugs I havr been there it is hard when negative sillies get you down. Also not everyone wants to live the bikini competion lifestyle. From what I have seen it can be brutal and a lot of times unhealthy. Being skinny doesn't always equal healthy.
    Lord Jesus bless 💙
  • MercuryForceMercuryForce Member Posts: 85 Member Member Posts: 85 Member
    I'd suggest you take your measurements weekly or monthly and when the scale doesn't move you can pull out that tape measure and physically see your loss. Your mind will play tricks on you as you move along.

    This is good advice, at least for people like me. For some reason the scale has been stuck fluctuating around the same 5 lbs for a few months; it's getting really annoying. But, in November I couldn't even button my "goal pants", last week I could button them and they were almost comfortable. But, in those months were the holidays, plus I took up running...then my knee told me I wasn't taking up running so I took up spinning. So, even though the scale isn't really moving much, there are obviously some changes happening.

  • callsitlikeiseeitcallsitlikeiseeit Member Posts: 7,368 Member Member Posts: 7,368 Member
    I have a good friend who is a competitive bikini bodybuilder (whatever the correct term is)

    while its not a physique I would want for myself, I DO ADMIRE the dedication it takes to GET that physique. That *kitten* don't come easy LOL

    Her trainer has her on a strict schedule, not only for meal timing but CALORIES.
  • kshama2001kshama2001 Member Posts: 24,039 Member Member Posts: 24,039 Member
    SlSl12345 wrote: »
    @Lietchi I have found I can't be 100 % accurate with some recipes because I can weigh all the ingridents that go in and what goes on my plate but it won't be absolute. For example I like making Stir-Fried veggies I cna measure all the different veggies but when I portion out the 6 servings or what have you I can't gurantee each plate has the exact amount of each veggie. So it is more of an average.

    Measure the entire recipe in grams when complete. Put the weight in grams as your number of servings. Each time you take some, just weigh what you take. IE 200 grams would be 200 servings. Voila.

    Or, if you’re cooking just for you, it doesn’t matter much if each serving is exact because once you eat all of it, it will all have been accounted for in your diary. (More true if you’re eating it in the same week or so).
    exactly. just make sure you measure each ingredient in the same unit (all grams, for example). If you look at my diary you see my lunch was 130 servings of chicken salad. it was 130 grams.

    I'm making an apple pie later and you'll see that at the end of the day 150 servings of pie. (or whatever I dish up)

    Learn how to use that recipe builder to maximize the accuracy! It helps tremendously.

    I use the "weight = servings" method as well. My OH is a foot taller than me so a serving for him is not a serving for me, lol.

    I have the weights of all my common pots, pans, and bakeware written down; some memorized.

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