#### The Seven Day Food Journal Challenge

Have you been struggling to lose weight or just those last five pounds? A food journal can give you a wealth of information about your food habits, your caloric intake, and percentage of nutrients. The seven day challenge will help you discover possible reasons for weight loss plateaus and give you insight on your food choices.

Many people don't have a clue as to how many calories they eat on a daily basis. Constant snacking can cause the calories to add up quickly, and calculating every little morsel you put in your mouth may result in a surprising grand total. Some people may have the opposite issue with not eating enough calories. Not eating enough calories can slow you metabolism and make it challenging to lose weight. Our bodies have a protective mechanism and not eating enough calories causes the metabolism to slow down and conserve energy.

Losing weight begins with increased awareness of your food intake, the types of nutrients you are consuming and how many calories you consume on a daily basis. This challenge will be a great trial to learn more about your eating habits and can give you a new perspective on possible obstacles to weight loss. Paying more attention to your food choices increases the likelihood of eating healthier foods and helps you to avoid overeating or not eating enough, resulting in a sluggish metabolism.

It's important to calculate your recommended daily caloric intake based on your activity level. You first need to determine your basal metabolic rate, typically referred to as BMR. Your BMR is the minimum number of calories you require to be alive. Once you determine your BMR, you would add calories to the BMR number based on your activity level.

Female: 655 + (4.3 x your weight in pounds) + (4.7 x your height in inches) – (4.7 x your age in years) This will be your basal metabolic rate (BMR)

Then you adjust for your current activity level:
Sedentary = BMR x 1.2
Moderately active = (exercise 1-3x per week) BMR x 1.375
Very active = (exercise 6-7x per week) BMR x 1.55
Extremely active = (physical job or exercise 2x per day)BMR x 1.9

Your final result is your daily caloric intake needed to maintain your current weight. You would then adjust your daily caloric intake depending on your weight loss goals. Experts suggest a loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week. There are 3500 calories in one pound. Therefore, you would subtract 500 calories from your daily caloric intake to lose one pound a week and 1000 calories to lose two pounds per week. If you are trying to lose two pounds, 1000 calories might seem like a lot, but if you exercise daily, you would also count the calories you burn during your workout. So for example, you could eat 500 calories less per day and do a one hour moderate intensity workout to burn approximately another 500 calories. That would put you at a 1000 calorie deficit for the day and help you to lose two pounds that week. Losing more than 2 pounds a week is not recommended as it could result in losing lean muscle.

You may want to consider using a food journal app instead of writing it down. There are many great apps that will calculate your daily calories, give you nutrient percentages, and track water intake. Also, some apps have a note feature for making comments. The bottom of this article provides links to two popular nutrition apps.

Here are the guidelines for the 7 day food journal challenge:

1.Weigh yourself on day one of the challenge
2.Write down everything you eat, preferably as you eat it or use one of the recommended apps.
3.Calculate your calorie intake for each meal and snack. Try to stay in your recommended daily caloric intake range during the entire challenge
4.Keep track of your water intake each day. Try to drink at least 8 (8 oz) glasses per day.
5.Make note of how you feel after eating your snacks and meals. Do you feel energized or sluggish and fatigued?
6.Weigh yourself on day 7 of the challenge and make notes on weight loss and how the journal changed your eating patterns for the week.

Enjoy the challenge and discover how easy it is to eat healthy by increasing awareness of food intake and food choices. Try to continue the challenge for the rest of the month to help you establish better eating habits and healthy lifestyle choices. Use the journal to help you discover how eating certain foods may leave you feeling fatigued and others energetic. Also, journaling can help to determine if you have any underlying food allergies that you may want to address with your physician. Additionally, tracking your percentage of nutrients will help you to choose meals that provide a balanced intake of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.

The following links take you from the BellaOnline site to another website.

"lose it app
"my fitness pal

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