Creating a food diary is one of the most common weight loss strategies. Your food diary can help you understand your dietary habits, identify areas that need change, and lend a sense of control over your food choices. You know that you need to write down each meal, snack, or even “just a few bites” that you consume throughout the day. But what about dietary supplements? Do those count?
It depends. Most of the reason you should journal your meals is to track the amount of calories you consume. But aside from calories, a food diary can help you understand nutritional choices, and decide whether you’re consuming the right amounts of each type of nutrient.
Some nutritional supplements do contain calories. For example, protein bars pack 200-300 calories each, so you definitely want to write those down in your diary! Protein powder typically contains only about 80 calories per serving, but that 80 calories could make a difference if you’re trying to stay below a particular calorie count. Branched-chain amino acid supplements only contain about 25 to 50 calories, but this could become important if you take more than one serving per day. Overall, you should be tracking your protein intake anyway, so it’s a good idea to log all protein supplements regardless of their calorie content.
Fat-based supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acid capsules, only contain about 15-45 calories. Carbohydrate-based dietary aids, such as fiber supplements, contain between 15 and 80 calories per recommended serving. If your supplements fall into the low end of this spectrum, you might not worry about including them in your diary. On the other hand, if you take several per day, or if they fall into the higher caloric range, you should definitely be jotting these down.
Micronutrient supplements are often formulated with a bit of sugar or oil, and can range from 5 to about 30 calories each. These probably don’t matter if you only take one per day. However, if you take several supplements, those calories could add up, so it might be worth your time to research their caloric content.
There is one type of “supplement” you should definitely track in your food diary. Though they seem harmless, some herbal remedies (even something as benign as tea) can interfere with prescription medications. Talk to your doctor before using any herbal remedies, and keep track of the ones you do decide to use.
As always, call us for more information on medical weight loss strategies. A food diary can be the first step to success, but we can offer you the expert advice you need to maximize your results.