Quantified Nutrition

Over the past four months, I've increasingly spent time putting a system in place to monitor my nutritional intake - and by extension my health. Simplistically, my goal has been to gain strength while losing fat - with a focus on improving overall health.

I've worked out a nice system using three tools: Cronometer, Apple Watch, and Fitbit Aria.

  • Cronometer is used as a food diary to log consumption. Beyond tracking caloric intake, it also helpfully breaks out food into both macro- and micronutrients. For example, you can see your protein intake, but also see the percentage of Isoleucin, Leucine, and Valine consumed (important for muscle gain).

  • Since my focus is on strength gains, I have macronutrient targets set to Protein @ 35%, Carbohydrates @ 45%, and Fat @ 20%. That's working well for me, but you should choose for your own goals and body. 

  • Since my secondary focus is on losing fat, I have Cronometer set to lose 1 pound per week as my Weight Goal.

  • Another critical component of this setup is my Apple Watch - which logs Active Caloric burn. I use it throughout the day, and log every workout using it. Then, at least once a day - at the end of the day - I open Cronometer on my iPhone which syncs with HealthKit.

  • Cronometer takes the Active Caloric burn from Health and adds that to the Base Metabolic Rate calculated based on my current weight. Active + BMR = Total Caloric Burn.

  • Lastly, I use the Fitbit Area smart scale which uploads my weight and (rough) body fat % to the cloud which syncs with Cronometer. As a consequence, Cronometer updates my BMR daily (and thus caloric intake goal).

In summary, I use a food log for daily food intake and to calculate a target daily caloric intake. I use a smart scale to automatically update my weight which correspondingly updates my caloric intake target. And I use a fitness watch to capture additional calories burned throughout the day which are additive (burn more, eat more).

It's working great for me. Now, the real trick: can I turn 4 months into 4 years of sustained progress.

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