Tracking foods is one of the hardest parts of any attempt at changing your body composition. People tend to feel overwhelmed by food tracking and often their attempts are not producing results so they give up or instead they try some type of detox, elimination diet, low carb diet or keto diet to make progress on the scale. This approach often backfires because these ways of eating are unsustainable and requires the willpower of Superman to eat this way long-term.
The good news is tracking does not have to be so tedious or frustrating. In reality, learning to track food well is a SKILL and it takes practice and good “systems”.
The preset calorie and macro amounts are
often too low in the beginning and certain macronutrients can be better
FOR WEIGHT LOSS: Set your caloric intake at
your goal bodyweight x 11 or 12 and aim for something in between that. Set your protein amount at EITHER 0.8-1.0
grams per pound of bodyweight OR your GOAL bodyweight if you have a significant
amount of weight to lose.
EX: If you are 170
lbs. and you want to weigh 140 lbs.
140 x 11 = 1540 calories
140 x 12 = 1680 calories
AIM FOR SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN!
Caloric INTAKE – 1600
If goal weight is 140 lbs. – can shoot for 140 grams of protein
Each gram of protein = 4 calories.
140 x 4 = 560 calories
1600 – 560 = 1040 calories remaining which can be divided between carbs and fats.
If you like more carbs – allot more calories for carbs.
If you like more fat – allot more calories for fat. It’s that simple!
This is just ONE WAY to determine your caloric intake and your macros. There are SO MANY ways to calculate these amounts. Also, the amount you come up with is just a starting point. Give it 2 weeks of consistent tracking and weighing your foods. If you are not getting the results you want then you can adjust the intake by either lowering the intake a bit or adding in more activity. Just don't slash calories too fast or make drastic changes. You want to be able to lose weight on the most food possible - so you have wiggle room. Think of it this way - you wouldn't want to drive from New York to California on a half tank of gas? Same thing when you have weight to lose and you need to be in this for the long haul. You have to give yourself enough room to go the distance and slowly lower calories as you progress along.
In the beginning, meeting the
protein requirements is the hardest part for most women since they are
significantly under in their protein intake.
Figure out how much protein you need daily (see #1) and then input foods to total @ 80% of the total protein amount.
For example, if your goal is to get 120 grams of protein aim to input foods that total 100 grams. Other foods will have small amounts of protein to make up for the remaining 20 grams (such as oatmeal, spinach, nuts, etc.).
After you enter your protein items then add the foods that have are your carbs and fats to ensure that you are meeting all your macro requirements.
Eating should be enjoyable and not something you “endure” for a period of time until you reach your goal weight. This approach often backfires and leads to binging and feelings of guilt and shame. There is nothing wrong with having chocolate or ice cream or cookies (unless of course you have a medical condition diagnosed by your doctor where you need to avoid certain foods - such as insulin resistance, diabetes, gout, etc.)
Having “treats” or JOY FOOD (as I like to call it) can even occur daily if it fits your nutrition goals. Of course, it’s a good idea to avoid the foods that tend to trigger uncontrollable eating especially if you are not in a good place emotionally since this is usually when binges can occur.
No need to enter each item individually as this can be tedious and annoying. Plus, most nutrition newbies are not good at the "enter as you go" method as it usually leaves them short on protein by the end of the day and without any carbs or fats. Suddenly you find yourself eating only chicken breast from 4pm on because of poor planning.
Instead, learn to create your own frequently used balanced meals. Label and save the meals for easy identification. Make sure that the protein intake is adequate for each meal.
After 3pm people often have low blood sugar and fall victim to a lot of BLT’s (bites, licks and tastes) and this can add up FAST. Also, a casual glass of wine at 5pm often lowers ones inhibition enough to have a second glass with some cheese and crackers. Suddenly tracking is the LAST THING on most people’s minds.
A quick and easy fix is to LOG YOUR FOODS TONIGHT for TOMORROW after 3pm.
Another tip that help the late afternoon "witching hour" is to have a protein based meal or shake at around 3pm. This helps to keep blood sugar levels from falling so you aren't craving sugary treats.
All the tips and tactics won't work if action isn't taken. You have to actually begin doing these tips to see the benefits and often new habits are AWKWARD. Have patience with yourself and take it one step at a time! Commit to FAILING FORWARD and in no time at all you will be a food tracking master!