Fast Food Diet

OK, two ostensibly weight-loss related posts in a row. But the previous one was just humor whereas this one is at least a bit serious. About five years ago, a friend and I lost a good amount of weight by, for the most part, simply tracking the calories that we ate. Obviously, we had to actually reduce the calories as well, but tracking them made that very easy. Notably, I also switched from regular to diet soda at that time. I went from a high of maybe as high as 240 down to about 170.

The thing about tracking calories is that it makes you want to eat meals where you know what the calories are. Conveniently, almost all fast food chains publish the caloric content of their foods. Therefore, I found that I would actually eat more fast food rather than less while on this diet. Of course, in many cases this was in lieu of equally unhealthy comfort food from other, non-fast-food chains like Chili’s (I love Chili’s).

Well, in the intervening five years I had slowly gained about 25 pounds back (which isn’t too bad, I think), and I’ve decided it’s time to get serious again. I used to track calories with a couple of different programs for Palm, but not that I’ve moved to the iPhone I needed a new program. I’ve settled on the free app, Lose It!.

The database doesn’t seem quite as extensive as I’d like, but the interface is pretty nice. I’ve created custom foods and recipes (collections of foods) and you can reuse previous meals. One feature I’d like would be to create hierarchies of custom foods — this was something that I wanted in the Palm apps as well.

One big difference between now and then is that now I am addicted to breakfast tacos. Thus, instead of a breakfast of < 200 calories, I end up with a breakfast of 300-500 calories. I've considered giving this up, but it's one of the highlights of my day so I've decided to make sacrifices elsewhere. Sometimes, like yesterday, that ends up being that I skip dinner and go to bed hungry. Actually, going to bed a bit hungry was a hallmark of my diet the previous time and is usually a good indicator that I'm going to weigh less the next day.

One thing that using calorie tracking as a diet definitely drives home is that the reason to exercise is less directly about losing weight and much more about allowing you to eat more. 🙂 Which reminds me, I really need to start riding my bike to work again. Tomorrow should be a good day for that, I think. Oops, I have an 8am meeting, so perhaps not….

I wonder what's for lunch today. Whataburger? Jack-in-the-Box? Or maybe it's a Chili's day after all. Breakfast was 428 calories out of my 1554 budget for today, so I need to try to keep lunch fairly small.


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  1. #1 by whall on March 5, 2009 - 11:35 am

    After hearing you and only4uris talk about it last night at pool, I’ve decided to do the same thing. So I’m currently looking for a Blackberry app that helps.

    I wrote a much longer comment but I’ve decided to move it to a post on the topic.


    • #2 by Ren on March 11, 2009 - 10:42 am

      @whall – Did you find a Blackberry app for this? Or does that fall into the “do less” bucket? 😉


  2. #3 by Giggle Pixie on March 5, 2009 - 4:49 pm

    I used to keep a record of my calories each day, by hand. This is a great idea – I need to use that app on the iTouch. Thanks for the idea and good luck to us all! 🙂


    • #4 by Ren on March 11, 2009 - 10:45 am

      @Giggle Pixie – It’s sometimes amazing how quickly the calories add up, though I know it is mostly due to the fact that I am not choosing the right foods. But that’s part of my system, eat what I want and just control the amount. For example, yesterday I had a breakfast burrito and then a fajita taco, a flauta, and 11 chips for lunch. This was honestly a fairly small lunch, particularly by Mexican food standards, but I still had no calories left for dinner. (Apparently, it wasn’t all *that* small, ’cause I wasn’t all that hungry at dinner either.)


  3. #5 by Faiqa on March 5, 2009 - 4:54 pm

    That’s a great idea. I actually don’t eat out much, but that’s a problem in and of itself… because I don’t have the time or energy to calculate exactly how much each ingredient has, total that and then divide it by the number of portions I’ve made. Before my first child, I was in great shape, without counting calories. It was all about exercise for me. I find that if I spent 1-2 hours exercising like my life depends on it (which technically it does), I start to lose weight. BUT. Since baby, this is not the case. I do not have two hours. And I am perpetually exhausted. In short, after I deliver my second baby in August, I’m going to try out the app you mentioned. Be sure to keep us posted on how it works out for you!


    • #6 by Ren on March 11, 2009 - 11:00 am

      @Faiqa – Actually, when we prepare a meal at home (which is rare, sadly) I find it often easier to determine the calories. Packaged foods are labeled with portion sizes and fresh foods are in the database. Sure, it’s a bit of work, but the program let’s me save the recipe, so if it’s something we’d prepare often — or even just if there will be leftovers — the benefit is greater.

      I was exercising pretty well for the first couple of months of this year, but I’ve fallen off that pattern. I was going to start running in the morning, but DST totally ruined that plan. The real culprit, as usual, is the fact that I watch too many TV shows.


  4. #7 by Ben on March 6, 2009 - 2:01 am


    Awesome to be immortalized as “the friend”. It’s funny that you’re thinking about getting serious about this again. I was thinking the same thing. And nothing made losing weight as easy as it was when we were tracking together …. I’m almost tempted to get an Iphone to try out “Lose it”. Of course, what really made the difference was the very social sharing of progress when we were doing this together. It was almost like a game back then, and it was a lot of fun. Imagine that: “losing weight” was fun. We need to find a way to get that sharing back again.

    BTW, I’ve officially transfered my blog to your blog comments. I write more here (and enjoy writing more here) than I do on my own blog.


    • #8 by Ren on March 11, 2009 - 11:03 am

      @Ben – The Wii Fit makes a weak, but reasonably effective substitute for the social sharing you describe. Now, if it just wouldn’t be so complimentary of the fact that I’ve done the Body Test so many days in a row and actually comment instead on how few days I’ve actually exercised.

      Maybe you should set up something on your blog so that it links to each of your comments here….


  5. #9 by martymankins on March 8, 2009 - 1:21 pm

    Your previous weight loss is very commendable. Even with this 25 lbs you re-discovered, it’s still something that can be taken off again.

    The key, at least in what it is for me, is discipline. I have tried to cut out fast food from my diet, but I still enjoy the once a week at Chili’s or some other place (Red Robin) that gives me some time to sit down and enjoy a leisure lunch.

    Your approach sounds good and I hope it works for you. Counting calories will make a nice dent into your fitness program.


    • #10 by Ren on March 11, 2009 - 11:07 am

      @martymankins – Mmm… Chili’s… 🙂

      We went to Red Robin on Sunday, and even though the kids got to eat free (for the rest of this month), I think I’ve about decided that that place is too expensive for what they offer. You can eat at Chili’s for less, and that’s really better.

      It’s working well so far, but I expect a large back-s(l)ide during our cruise next week….


  6. #11 by BlondeBlogger on March 11, 2009 - 2:36 am

    I’m a points counter. Which is also a huge pain in the butt. There’s a great site out there that lists tons of restaurants and all of the calorie/fat/fiber and even carb count I think, along with WW points value. Here’s the link:


    • #12 by Ren on March 11, 2009 - 11:08 am

      @BlondeBlogger – Thanks. I’ll add that site to my resources for finding out the calories at restaurants. I don’t think I’ve seen it come up when I just google for the data.


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