"Losing weight is easy, I've done it thousands of times..."
Ever feel like that?!
Mathematically it is easy. Consume more energy than you burn, and you'll put
weight on. Consume less energy than you burn, and you'll lose weight. So the biggest weapon after
motivation is information - knowing how many calories we're
eating, and how many we should be eating. When you monitor the calorie content of what you eat, you will naturally
re-educate your eating habits towards lower calorie foods.
Here's my original calorie tracker spreadsheet. I created it because I was frustrated with how little control I had on the
various web-sites which do the same thing. It's really simple to use if you're used to Excel, and contains no macros
so it's perfectly safe and can be run in the high security level.
Sometimes people tinker with the spreadsheet to make it suitable for themselves, and send it in, which is great!
If you want to contribute, you can contact me at
> What do the different coloured cells mean?
Purple is an automatically calculated cell; you should never have to type in here.
Yellow is a choice cell; you can either type in here, or select from the drop-down.
White is a normal cell; you just type in here.
> How do I get started with new dates?
On the Summary sheet, I'd recommend overwriting the existing dates (starting with 10-Dec-2007,
etc). You only need to overwrite a few manually - you can then highlight the cells you've
entered, use your mouse to grab the bottom-right of the highlighting rectangle, and then
drag the rectangle down. Excel will automatically fill in the dates for you.
On the Diary sheet, feel free to delete all of the existing rows, or leave them in for a while
as an example.
> How do I add new kinds of food?
Go to the 'Food' sheet, and insert a new row. If it's a basic kind of food which isn't
made of other ingredients (e.g. a banana), you could put Food='Banana', Unit='each',
Basic calories='100'. If it's a recipe made of other ingredients (e.g. a banana sandwich),
you could put Food='Banana sandwich', Unit='2 slices'. Then leave Basic calories blank,
and use the Ingredient columns to say you make it with Ingredient='Banana', Amount='1' (each),
and Ingredient='Bread', Amount='2' (slices).
> I can't use one of my foods on the Diary sheet!
The Food column in the diary sheet is restricted to being a value on the FOOD sheet - if the food
isn't recognised, you'll get a message like
"The value you entered is not valid. A user has restricted values that can be entered into this cell".
If you're sure the Food is right, it probably means the FOOD name doesn't cover enough cells.
Go to Formulas | Name Manager | FOOD and change it from =Food!$A$2:$A$380 to something bigger, e.g. =Food!$A$2:$A$400
Note that when adding new foods, it's best to insert rather than append to the end of the list, as then this problem doesn't arise.
> How do I get the graphs to show the right dates?
First, go to the 'Conversions' sheet - there's a place to enter a day, month and year,
and it will give you the value you need for the axis.
(Axis values are confusing, because
they show dates as the number of days since 1900.)
On a graph sheet, right-click the x-axis and choose 'Format Axis...'.
Then enter the value for the maximum and minimum.
> Where do I enter my target calories/weight/target weight?
On the Summary sheet.
> How can I account for calories burned in exercise?
The easiest way to do this is to add exercise onto the Food and Diary sheets with negative calories.
> Wow, I love it! How can I ever repay you?
Seriously, if you find the spreadsheet useful, please consider sending me a copy of your 'Food' sheet. Increasing the database of food would then make it even more useful for other people!
I'm forever having to convert between different units. Here are the converters I find myself always needing - they work in both directions (i.e. right-to-left, as well as left-to-right).
The recommended daily calorie intake varies depending on how old and active you are. As a rough guide, for the average adult this is about 2000 per day (women) and 2500 per day (men). If you're trying to lose weight, you could start by reducing your calorific intake by 500 calories per day - see NHS Choices.