I had a client start working with me this week.
With any client who signs on, I have them complete a food log for a couple of days—including the weekends. In this food log, they track their daily food and liquid intake.
And it’s always amazing how much is learned from that process alone.
Without me even doing my job!!
This client that just signed on texted me and said she forgot how amazing and helpful tracking was. It reminded her “hey, you’ve had no water today” or “instead of 8 beers on Friday, let’s have one or two today and another one or two on Friday instead.”
Tracking, when used for the RIGHT reasons, can be such an amazing tool in not only losing weight but building muscle, body recomp, building healthy and sustainable habits, improving biofeedback, and more.
It’s no wonder, then, why I have every single client start with food tracking and logging.
But a good 50% of the time, I’m often met with resistance around tracking.
Because it’s viewed as a means of restriction.
And yes! If you solely use tracking your food to limit your intake, cut out your favorite foods, eat 1200 calories, crush yourself in the gym, you ARE going to hate it and it isn’t going to be sustainable.
However, if you use tracking as a means of awareness and treat every day simply as just data, then it opens you to a whole new world, which I’ll teach you and share with you in today’s blog! Below are 4 reasons why I strongly encourage tracking and how you can apply it to achieve whatever “diet-based goal” you have.
The very first positive to come from tracking your intake is simply becoming aware
of how much you’re actually eating
of the quality of foods you’re eating
of your weekdays vs weekends
of how much water you’re drinking
of your fiber intake
of your macro composition (and how they relate to your biofeedback)
I recently shared a story in a recent blog, newsletter, and social media about an individual trying to lose weight. Based off of his eating plan and his biofeedback, I was suspecting he was eating 1600 calories at most and likely would need to eat more. Upon initially tracking a day of eating, we logged 1649 calories. I thought I was hot stuff predicting that. We kept talking though and he mentioned what goes into his coffee, the oils used to cook his meals, and some extra non-water liquids...and soon enough we were at 2700 calories.
All he needed was the awareness of what was causing him to continue to gain weight. He didn’t need to be told how to eat and fix his problems. He first needed to become aware of HIS current habits and how they either were or weren’t serving his goals.
Awareness precedes change.
Nutrition isn’t a one-size fits all approach. What you’re doing wrong (or even right) is different from me. We have different cravings, energy expenditure, favorite foods, biofeedback, etc. Most importantly, we have different habits that aren’t serving us. What works for me may not work for you. I don’t crave salty foods. When I first tracked, I became aware of how much I was limiting anything remotely sweet (even fruit) from my diet. I changed by including more sweet foods. IF you don’t crave sweet foods, you don’t need to do what I did.
Awareness is the first step, not only to change, but also to making the steps specific and individualized to YOU to achieving desired results.
Another pro that comes with tracking is that you can ensure you’re doing all you can and should to be seeing results. The problem with eye-balling, guessing, many fad diets, or portions-based diets is that they’re not exact. When it comes to seeing body composition changes. There are a couple things you need to know.
To lose weight, you need to be eating in a calorie deficit, burning more calories than you’re putting in.
To build muscle, you need to be eating in a calorie surplus.
To maintain and improve biofeedback, you need to be eating at maintenance calories.
You can’t do this with 100% accuracy without tracking.
**NOTE that this doesn’t mean you have to meticulously track and obsess. At the end, I’m going to show you HOW you can even loosely track to meet your mindset where it’s at and still see results.
All fad diets create a calorie deficit. It’s not the ketosis from your Keto diet. It’s not the lack of processed foods from your Paleo nutrition plan. It also isn’t the fasting window you created. All simply just inadvertently create a calorie deficit. The Keto and Paleo diet likely remove a lot of processed foods and replace them with whole food sources. Intermittent fasting reduces the time you eat. IF, however, you include allllll the Paleo or Keto baked goods you find online or in your eating window you go absolutely ham on some food, then you’re not going to lose weight because you’re no longer in that calorie deficit.
Eight years ago, I was told I was allergic to gluten...two weeks before moving into college. Unsure of what gluten even was and fear of getting sicker, I stuck to salads because the dining halls weren’t very equipped with “gluten free” eating. I lost 15lbs. THEN I found out how to avoid gluten and learned about gluten free baked goods and allllll the yummy stuff and those 15lbs came back. The gluten free diet wasn’t what caused me to lose that weight. It was the
Tracking lets you know exactly (or roughly) how many calories—and macros—you’re putting into your body. This lets you know if you’re on track to seeing results. Other methods are effective but do require more diligence and attention to your biofeedback, enduring a bit more hunger, likely a bit more restriction, and likely a bit more time because some days you will eat more food.
When you use tracking as a means to allow your cravings to be satisfied, you open a whole new world of tracking.
I almost always track on the weekends.
Not to make sure I don’t “eat too much” or “go off track” or “fall off the bandwagon”.
But actually so I (1) eat enough food and can use tracking to stay accountable to that and (2) to allow flexibility and to follow a more traditional “if it fits your macros” style of eating.
When you eat enough food (daily 2000+ calories like you should), you have SO much room for flexibility. Every Friday night, my group of friends goes to our favorite dive bar for cheap beer and wings. Every Friday, I log my 6 wings and 2 beers then use the rest of the day to meet my desired macros. And guess what? I still am eating a ton of yummy and nutritious foods that day. Instead of a bagel—which I usually have in the mornings—I usually swap it out for a piece of whole grain toast or some quinoa...but other than that, my day doesn’t change much.