Recently I decided to try an intermittent fasting diet. To do so, I had to figure out how much I could eat on my off/down days. I realized I didn't have a very good idea about how much calories my meals have, and as I was thinking about it, I started to get curious about my diet overall. How many calories do I get a day? How much of it is from fat? Do I get enough vitamins? Etc, etc, etc. All very basic questions, and since my meals are very regular, there was an easy way to find out!

(Note: anytime you feel curious and are about to find something out, make some predictions. I didn't, but I really wish I did, because I was very surprised by my findings.)

It took only a couple of hours, and here is the result.

If you scroll down, you can see that my usual Breakfast+Lunch+Dinner only nets about 1000 calories and gives 30% daily value of fat. No wonder I crave cookies and chocolate so much!

There are many surprising results that I got from this. And knowing that I've been eating like this for the past few years... Wow. This is the epitome of a low hanging fruit. I can't believe I didn't do this analysis earlier!


Edit: I was not trying to say that I only get 1000 calories a day. Of course I get more than that, but the rest is from cookies and post-meal sweets. I always thought I just have a sweet tooth, but the fact that I wasn't getting enough calories from my main meals can also explain this.

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15 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:20 PM

A human eating only 1000 Kcal per day would only be able to support a body weight of about 60lbs if sedentary. Are you sure your estimates are accurate?

The website is also designed to compute calorie and nutrient intakes from food, and might be a good way to double-check your spreadsheet calculations.

Oh, that's why I mentioned the cookies. I do eat a lot of those (and other sweets). The ~1000 calories is only for the "real" food that I consume, but it is, to the best of my knowledge, an accurate number.


This is neat-o, but I can't figure what you learned from it. You got some numbers that may or may not be accurate. Now what?

1000 calories per day is a starvation diet. You are either rapidly losing weight or your numbers are wrong (or you are 6 years old).

Googling for the minimum safe calorie intake returns numbers in the 1200-1800 range, and these are for people who want to lose weight rapidly.

OP is not getting 1000 calories per day, that's just the three meals. More food is being eaten through snacks, hence the "No wonder I crave cookies and chocolate so much!"

That falls under "the numbers are wrong." :)

There's also software that can track your nutrients and calories. Toying with it, adding random foods helps one get a better intuitive assessment of foods nutrition. After a while you'll just start to know what to roughly expect of the food on your platter.

My meals are not at all regular and very difficult to measure - not low hanging fruit for everyone.

Agreed. Until recently it hasn't even occurred to me to optimise my nutrition, because I wasn't overweight and looked fit enough. Especially difficult if your nutrition consists of sitting down in the nearest restaurant and ordering the waiter's recommendation.

There are probably meals that you eat more often than others. It would be useful to start by measuring those.

Even lower hanging fruit is finding out what your actual portion sizes are. The definition of a serving is often surprisingly small - a restaurant portion of pasta could easily be three or four servings, not one.

This is probably why it looks like you are starving yourself to death.

You are right. I did pay attention to the serving sizes that are on the labels, but since I don't really measure the amount of rice I eat in cups, I had to estimate. Getting a more accurate estimate is next on my list.
However, note that I wasn't starving (see my other comment reply to CasioTheSane).

I have definitely noticed changes in food cravings with changes in diet- around a year or two ago I switched to one that killed my desire to snack (by providing me enough sustenance in meals). It's great to be able to identify the "I'm craving fat" feeling, and know that your diet is such that you can whip up a batch of cookie dough and eat it straight and it'll be the right decision.

WolframAlpha is pretty good for calculating all this automatically - probably much faster than the spreadsheet. For example:

I used wolfram-alpha to get the nutrition information for a banana, but for everything else I have a much more accurate information. However, you are right that using wolfram-alpha can give you a much faster (although rougher) estimate.

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