calorie data analysis

Analyzing Your Cumulative Net Calories

Calorie Data Analysis

I started tracking my cumulative net calories–and just by doing this I have started getting healthier. If you are overweight and like crunching data this might work for you!

My formula is: NC=M-E  (where M=meal calories consumed and E=exercise calories burned)

Here is how I am doing (as at 11th March), looking at cumulative net calories over time.

calorie data analysis
calorie data analysis

Method for Calorie Data Analysis

Watch the video below to see the method I used to track my daily net calorie flow (intake less burned), or go straight to the summary steps below. Get the file from the video here.

5-Step Method

  1. Create a dataset with four headings: date, item, calories_in, calories_out, net_calories
  2. Look online to estimate your daily calorie burn (based on age, height, and weight). For example here.
  3. Update your dataset each day for items consumed (e.g. meals + drinks) or calorie-burning activities done (like playing sport, cleaning your house, cycling to shops, etc.). Just google ‘[food] calories’ (e.g. ‘avocado calories’ leads here). You will quickly get good at guessing. Same thing goes for exercise.
  4. Add an input range for your chart and use the SUMIF function to get the total net calories per day. Then use a cumulative SUM function to get the cumulative total. To do this just lock the first cell in your range and drag down (in my example ‘=SUM(P$11:P14)’ see video!)
  5. Create your chart and you’re done!

A Genuine Learning Experience

For me doing this has been quite illuminating. I got the idea from my cousin who lost a lot of weight several years ago and when asked how he said it was just because he started measuring what he was eating. A true testament to the value of data analysis for improving performance. As Thomas Monson has said ‘When performance is measured, performance improves’.

In my case, I think this works partly because I enjoy analyzing data. In recent months I have made attempts to regulate my diet with rules like:

  • No eating after 7pm
  • Small meals Thursdays
  • Half-fasting once a week

And so on. But these have not worked. What has been astounding to me (since I have literally NEVER measured calorie intake in my whole life) is that I could consistently come in under my base burn each weekday, no problem. But then on takeaway Friday or Sunday dinner I could quite easily blow out by +1000kcal for the day! Notably, eating 2/3 of a 200g bar of chocolate will clock about 700kcal (about 1/2 what I had eaten all day on a normal weekday!)

Anyway, all this has helped me to regulate my diet without really exercising too much will power. So it is worth a try.

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One thought on “Analyzing Your Cumulative Net Calories”

  1. I just want to add some additional thoughts here… with the benefit of retrospect. Doing this was pretty enlightening for me and after the initial drop in weight I began getting very bogged down with counting up everything. It wasn’t as much the administration of counting things–but more the negative psychology associated with resisting foods and calorie intake. I think there was some backlash with this as I became more fixating on the foods I was putting in my mouth. I also didn’t like the idea that I was becoming someone who goes ‘ooh… will I, won’t I have that cream bun’, etc. I have never in my life been that person. Obviously it is good to use some moderation and educating yourself about intake is good–but the best way I have found to lose weight is to adopt an active lifestyle–running, playing 5-a-side football, etc. Take up rock-climbing; join a 5-a-side league. Play badminton with your friend on Wednesdays, get out and about with the family on a weekend, etc. etc. It has to be about lifestyle. If you only try to enforce behavior at the behavioral level (i.e. the last link in the cognitive-behavioral chain) then it can lead to making things worse.

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