Planning is key!
Studies show that people who write down what they eat lose more weight than those who do not. Tracking your food allows you to see exactly what you’re eating too much of—or not enough of—and helps keep you accountable.
Here are a few food-logging tips that work for many of our clients.
Use a small spiral notebook and write down everything you ate each day. Tally the calories and other nutritional information.
Refer back to them to find recipes, substitutes at restaurants, and encouraging reminders of how far you’ve come. Keep it with you in your purse or workout bag and take it everywhere you go.
Here’s one you can print and use.
If you’re ready to go electronic and use your smartphone, sign up for a food journal app like MyFitnessPal. It’s free and user-friendly! You can use both the online version and app.
MyFitnessPal has Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and snack categories ready for you to enter your food into. The database of food is probably the largest one out there. And you can easily use your smartphone to scan bar codes on packages and quickly input your food.
There’s a place to add in recipes so you don’t have to enter each ingredient each time. It revolutionized how many of our clients cook, eat and keep track of it.
MyFitnessPal also allows you to keep track of your exercise: You can enter your cardio and strength workouts into the daily log. However, you get credited with additional calories for cardio workouts. Our advice is to eat only if you need to, don’t celebrate “extra” calories by eating more.
If you stick to eating every 2-3 hours and having a well-balanced plate, you won’t need to use your extra calories because you won’t be starving your body.
Some people have a hard time remembering to log their food after each meal. So here are a couple of suggestions.
- Set timers on your phone to remind you. Believe us, it will annoy you enough to remember to do it!
- Enter your food for “tomorrow” today! Plan your meals a day or two—or even week—ahead. This way you have a daily plan of what you’re eating and won’t go to bad things because you didn’t plan. Go into each day already knowing what you’re going to eat. Yes, there are days that don’t work out as planned, but do your best. And if you screw up, just count that as a cheat meal and go right back to my food plan as soon as the next meal. This strategy also helps with grocery shopping. If you plan all your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for the week, you can build your grocery list from your weekly menu. This will help you from impulse buys in the grocery store and save you money from eating out!
This is what really counts! All the work you’re doing is so you can really see your progress. You might be working out religiously, but if the food plan isn’t in place, you won’t see the results.
Have your food log ready to show your trainer. He/she will give you tips for improvements, or praise you for doing well! The numbers don’t lie … whatever your goals are, you’ll see them if all the components are on place.
MyFitnessPal also has a great networking system. Add friends, share food diaries and engage in discussions. Following diets alone can be hard, so ask people for tips, share what works for you and celebrate your weight-loss achievements. It’s a great support system.
Knowledge is power!
Eat responsibly … and log daily!!!