I bet you all heard that in order to stay fit you should consider eating 5 meals per day. This roughly means eating every 3 hours!
Inspired by a talk given by Tim Ferris, I decided to conduct a conscious experiment to track each meal I was consuming. Just for fun.
It all took about 2 months to complete, but the outcomes are very thought to provoke. I got acquired with the brutal truth about myself.
What's more interesting - the experiment is fully repeatable. At the end of the post, I will give you some Python scripts that will be helpful to replicate the whole process and obtain your own personalized results.
First and foremost you need your some data. I have used a DietSnaps app. It's purpose is to take a photo of each consumed eaten meal. You can get it from the AppStore.
Even though the app provides an option to export all data (i.e. CSV file), I decided to take a manual approach. Each dish was labeled using the following categories:
- was it healthy (rather yes / rather not)
- alcohol (yes / no)
- meat included (yes / no)
- vegetables included (yes / no)
- fruits included (yes / no)
- fast-food (yes / no)
- full-meal (yes / no)
- form (mostly raw / mostly processed)
and put into Google Docs Spreadsheet - link.
The first thing I wanted to know is how much beer I drink each day. Let's try to visualize it with the following plot - average number of meals and beer bottles consumed per each weekday.
Oh, that interesting. I would take a bet that most beers are drunk on the weekend - but ... it's Wednesday (exhausting middle of the week). On the other hand - my training days are Mondays and Thursdays (less consumption). Hopefully, I was eating more these days.
Let's proceed with another question.
The whole experiment took nearly 8 weeks. The fact of taking photos of each meal has obviously made me more conscious about the quality of food. I should be eating better with each meal, right?
Everything was going well until week 3. After that time fast-food consumption was continuously growing. The overall number of meals with fruits is also very depressing.
"What gets measured gets managed" ~ Peter Drucker
Maybe there were little fruits and vegetables but the dishes were overall quite healthy. I can calculate some proportions for each day (green color means super-healthy eating, red - mega-unhealthy).
Mondays tend to be healthier than other days (new week begins with extra powers). Tuesdays and Thursdays are also quite ok (due to workouts). There are also some bad periods - see last three days of the fourth week. Awww.
Finally, let's try to answer how often do I eat? Am I following a rule of "meal every 3 hours"? To visualize we will use a great concept of a time-map (you can read more about it here).
Time-map is very good for recognizing how do events relate each other in time (are they occurring fast or rather slow). Each event is plotted on XY plot, where axes show time before previous, and after next event.
And this is where the drama starts.
All of the plots are fully interactive. If you zoom-in to the purple rectangle you will see how many meals were eaten in a healthy fashion.
It turns out that I have eaten roughly FIVE meals that were introduced and followed with about 3h break. It's exactly 1.86% of all meals. How the hell I was supposed to build muscle if only 1.86% of all meals during 8 weeks were consumed properly?
You might be thinking that you're living good. But these beliefs should also be verified from time to time.
Painful truth: numbers don't lie.
Plotting the results is useless if it is not followed by understanding the data and coming with some action to make a change.
If you are curious about your own performance feel free to use this Jupyter Notebook. It will generate all of the plots presented above for you.