Well, calories are easier to assess than nutrients. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. The best approach would be to know how many calories you are eating to maintain your present weight and then adjust your calories up or down based on your weight goal.
Your scale will tell you which way you are going. Don’t pay attention to 3-pound fluctuations in your weight due to the time of day, eaten food or fasted in morning, time of menstrual cycle, and whether or not you have had a bowel movement in the last day. Your lowest, most accurate weight is in the morning after emptying your bladder and before you have eaten food.
You could take 2 approaches. Analyze what you eat yourself or have someone else do the analysis for you. First, you will need to write down everything you eat or drink as well as any supplements you currently take for 3 to 7 days.
A Registered Dietitian could provide you with an analysis report of what you are currently eating with and without your supplements. They can even examine the amino acids in the foods you eat. A 7-day food record is more accurate since it combines weekday and weekend eating patterns. Your Dietitian can even provide lists of good food sources for the nutrients that you are lacking.
Or analyze your food records with nutrition analysis software. If you would like to analyze your food records, try My Food Record which I developed with my programmers. Besides analyzing food records, it has 3 exercise tools Calorie Burn which you can use to burn off excess calories, Exercise Burn for regular exercise estimates, and Time to Burn to find the exercise to do in the time you have today.
If you are eating at least 1600 calories a day from a variety of food groups, then more than likely you are meeting your Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamins and minerals. However, if you have eliminated any food group, you will be missing the nutrients from those foods.
Another concern may be when you are trying to gain muscle and don’t know how many calories to add. Or if you exercise regularly, are you eating enough calories so that it affects your exercise performance? When you gain muscle, your body weight may go up, but your clothing size may go down. While 1 pound of muscle weights as much as 1 pound of body fat, muscle is 70% water while body fat is only 15% water. Make sure you are hydrated.