One of the very first things I do when starting with a new client is I have them keep track of their food in a food log. A written journal will do the job just fine, but I find that in today's technological society one of the easiest way is through an app on your phone. There are lots of food tracking apps out there (e.g. My Fitness Pal) however my personal preference is for the Lose It app. Lose It is very user friendly and intuitive to use. There are many benefits to keeping track of your food intake with a log; here are a five of the best reasons to start logging your food:
1) Helps with Weight Loss
There are many studies out there that show the benefit of tracking food and its correlation with weight loss. One study found that people who track their food vs. those that don't average twice the amount of weight loss! Tracking your food keeps you aware of the amount of calories that you're consuming in a day. It also allows you to identify when you're eating too much or too little to allow you to adjust your values eating to help meet your goals.
2) Helps you See Proportions of Macronutrients
Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or both, tracking your food can be an important tool. Knowing the percentages of carbohydrate, fat, and protein can dramatically improve your chances of reaching your goals. By tracking your food with an app or online tracking tool you can see in real time the proportion of the macro nutrients in your diet. This will help you adjust as the day goes on to make sure that you're getting the right amount of nutrients that you need in order to meet your goals.
3) Helps Identify Eating Habits and Patterns
Do you eat when you get emotional? Do you eat when you get bored? By keeping a journal of your food intake you can help identify the patterns and habits that you have when eating food. By identifying these patterns and habits you greatly increase your chance of being able to change them for a better chance at meeting your goals.
4) Help Identify Foods that You Thought Were “Healthy” That May Not Be
I can't tell you the number of times that I've had a client eat a food that they thought was “healthy” only to log that food and later come back to me and tell me that it wasn't nearly as good as they thought it was for them. By tracking foods that you eat you become more aware of things such as calories, fat, and carbohydrates, particularly sugar. There is so much of this hidden in our foods nowadays that increasing your awareness to these foods can help you eliminate them from your diet and replace them with healthier alternatives.
5) Helps Keep You Honest
By tracking your food, you are keeping a record of everything that you're doing for the day. This simple act makes it easier to keep yourself honest and make sure that you are sticking to the goals that you have set for yourself. I take it one step further by making sure that I'm keeping track of what my clients are eating and counsel them appropriately on better choices that they can make for themselves to help reach their goals.
Tracking your food takes some discipline. You can’t expect to do it once or twice a day and make any real gains on your goals. In my experience I find that a client needs a track food consistently for 5 to 6 weeks in order for it to become a habit and make any real change in their life. The ones that are able to do this have the best results. If you are serious about weight loss start tracking today. You can find my favorite tracking app, Lose It, here.