WW tracking vs kJ counting – and how I solved the tracking mystery

I have wanted to move away from the WW points system for a while now. I don’t go to WW, I am not a member. I am using the material I got when I had a brief fling with them last year, so, the material is not that out of date (but it is not the current system used in Australia, either). My issue is that I want to have more control. I want to be able to understand my intake on its own rather than relying on someone else’s calculations. This is going to be important if/when I get pregnant because I want to eat a healthy amount (rather than over-eat like last time). It is going to be important when maintaining a healthy goal weight. I needed to work it out and counting kilojoules (kJ) seemed to be a good answer for me. (I work in kJ here, not calories but it is the same concept just differnt measuring scales).

I hadn’t swapped to counting kJ because I was using a great app on my phone which helped me track ww points. It is so convenient to track on my phone!!! And I wanted something as convenient for counting kJ. Well, on the weekend I went looking for an app to help me out and I found two that look promising.

But I also needed to have a better idea of what my kJ target should be. There are so many quizzes online and they seem to give me different answers. So, I turned to something I trusted. I had previously followed the CSIRO Total WellBeing Diet and they provide information about how to calculate energy requirements so that you can pick a level of their program. They use the Harris-Benedict equation (see the article by the same name in Wikipedia) which is a way to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate and from there energy requirements. I used this to work out my requirements for losing weight and established a kJ range to aim for in a day. I spent quite a while seeing how changing the activity level changed the kJ target. And I was pretty sure that I was on track with the calculations.

Once I had my kJ target range, I could start counting my kJ in my new phone apps.

One of the apps is really quite simple. It does not have a database to draw on, so you need to enter in the kJ amounts for every food. But it does remember the foods, so after a while I will only need to enter random or rare foods. I have a calorie counting book which I am using to help me start out. And then the app just does maths. You tell it your kJ target, you put in what you eat and it adds it up and tells you how much is left. Really simple. It can give you some weekly/monthly stats so you can see how you are managing over time. You can include exercise in the input. It has no weight tracking section, but I have spreadsheets at home, work and on my phone already for that 🙂

The other calorie counting app has a database to draw on. You can search for foods and enter portions. The food database can also tell you protein, carb and fat intake as well as kJ. It is not Australian, so alot of the foods are not relevant to me. I would need to make sure I am picking the right thing from the list. I have not yet created my own foods yet but the funtion is there. The app also has an exercise journal and a weight tracker. It is alot more complicated. The downside is you need to be connected to the internet to access it (I am often not connected) and the app uses alot of battery power. I think I would be interested to see how my fat/protein/carbs balance out but I don’t feel I need that at the moment. Really, all I need is somthing to do the maths…

So, for this week I am tracking in both WW points and kJ in the simple counter. And you know what? I have discovered a problem with the way I had calculated my points allocation back in January. For the last few days I have been at the top (or just over) my ww points allocation and under my kJ daily target by a good snack. It has been bugging me! I spent a long time working out my kJ intake and have confidence that it is a good target for me*.

And when I was walking this morning, I realised that I did not know if my ww points allocation included anything about exercise. I know that my kJ calculations do take exercise into account. So, tonight I went back to my ww material and realised I had selected the ‘no activity’ option in the quiz when I worked out my points allocation. That was true before I started but I am now exercising 5 or 6 days a week. I should have been up maybe 2 points a day for the last 6 weeks! I have adjusted my ww points up and now both my ww and kJ tracking are at the same place.

I am a little bit frustrated because I feel the quiz to work out WW points is misleading in relation to activity (it talks about how active are you at work – I picked the mostly sitting option. Well I do have a deskjob!). But I am pleased I am learning to listen to my body and to know when I am hungry. I am also pleased I have been able to work it out. I am excited that I can start to move away from WW and start doing more of my own thing and be in control of my own healthy life style.

I am going to track both points and kJ this week at least. I want the transition to be smooth. It will also help me build up the foods in my simple calorie tracker. My weight loss will likely slow a little if I am eating a little more. That is not a bad thing. The speed of my weight loss was a recurring niggle at the back of my mind. This puts me in control and better able to manage what I put in my mouth.

*I studied science at university and am quite analytical when it comes to data. So, I do have confidence in how I have calculated my energy requirements. I am also referring to the CSIRO Total WellBeing Diet which I have used before and was influencing how I used my WW points. In their publications they use the Harris-Benedict equation for people to work out their energy requirements. And more generally, I have confidence in the CSIRO. They are Australia’s scientific research organisation and are top people.

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