Whether you prefer flexible dieting, keto, paleo, plant-based, or another style of eating, tracking your food is an excellent tool to assess the proper ratio of fats, carbs and protein your body needs to reach your specific goals.
We've helped thousands or people make tracking work for them and one thing we know is that it can be challenging at times (especially when you're just getting started).
That's why we're sharing our top 10 tips and tricks to help you track as simply as possible. After all, the simpler things are the more sustainable (and enjoyable!) they'll feel. This is the trick to ultimate success.
Don't get me wrong--lasting change WILL require work and effort, but it can be done and your don't need to do it alone. At CNU Fit, we know that it isn't necessary to reinvent the wheel to make an impact. We're here to share what's worked for thousands of our clients so you can give them a shot too.
Using these tips and tricks can directly translate into progress towards your goals.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, here are some terms that you'll need to know:
- Macros: protein, carbs, and fat. When we're tracking our food we also want to track the combination of protein, carbs, and fat. Each person is different and each person's body will respond differently to amounts of protein, carbs, and fat so it's important to know how much you are consuming
- Single source macro- foods that have primarily only one of the three macros: protein, carbs or fat.
1. Have single-source macros on hand.
Having a list of foods to choose from when you have mainly one macro you need to fill is extremely helpful, will keep things simple, and can be a great tool for beginners and for overcoming weightloss plateaus.
2. Never grocery shop hungry.
This is the oldest trick in the book for a reason! Having a meal or snack before hitting the store can be a game changer when it comes to sticking to your grocery list.
3. Set your environment up for success.
The truth is, willpower is finite and takes focus. Imagine what we all could accomplish if our energy wasn't being wasted on fighting temptations multiple times a day. Here are a few ways you can set your environment up for success:
- Do a kitchen overhaul, including completely removing trigger foods or keeping them off the counters and away from the front of the fridge. The more work it takes to access tempting foods, the less likely you will be to have them.
- Shop for success. Head to the store with a plan, shop the exterior of the store and have a meal beforehand so that you aren't shopping hungry.
- Practice mindful eating by eating slowly, removing distractions and savoring the experience with your food.
4. Use sticky notes as you cook.
Using your phone while you cook can be a pain, so write the ingredients and weights on a sticky note and you can input them all in MyFitnessPal later!
5. Take advantage of the tare/zero button
Hit it to subtract the weight of your bowl and after adding ingredients, so you don't have to use separate bowls (or unnecessary math!).
6. Divide your macros over the course of the day.
If the amount of food you plan to eat each day feels overwhelming, divide it evenly through your meals. For example, if you are planning to eat four times a day and your protein goal is 130 grams for the day, you can aim for about 30-33 grams of protein per meal. You can do the same by dividing carbs and fats, and by doing this you'll have a general framework to plan out your meals for the day.
7. Use masking tape.
Keep track of serving sizes by adding masking tape to your containers. For example, if you cooked a casserole and know that one serving is 150 grams, then write it on the tape and stick it on the container! Also, if you want to pre-prep meals with your protein, carbs, and fat you can write down how much protein, carbs, and fat are in each container that way you can just grab and go!
8. Fill yourself up.
If you're struggling with hunger, try eating fewer larger meals and instead eat smaller, more frequent ones to achieve a genuine sense of fullness.
9. Get to know your go-to to-go foods.
Find a few "go-to" meals closest to the three places you spend the most time (your "food radius"--often work, school, gym and/or home), so you're never without a backup plan when you need to grab something in a pinch.
You can look at menus ahead of time for different types of restaurants. For example, if you are heading to a Mexican Restaurant you could opt for tacos or fajitas and estimate each ingredient, rather than trying to find nutrition facts that fit your entire meal. Each time you go, you will only need to pick from two or three options instead of feeling overwhelmed by the entire menu!
You could also try taking your favorite meals to go and weighing out the ingredients at home, that way the next time you eat that particular meal you have a more accurate estimate of the macros ready to go in your tracking app
10. Stay Hydrated.
Drink lots of water as you eat and throughout the day. Water is an essential ingredient to ensuring our bodies continue to function properly. It has an incredible impact on our performance, mood, energy, and progress. To allow us to be able to perform at our peak, it's important that we pay attention to our intake and remain adequately hydrated throughout the day.
Aim for 1 oz per pound of body weight and track your fluid intake--most people overestimate this and a tracking app can be a helpful way to make sure you are drinking enough.
Hopefully these tricks will help you get started or stay on track toward your goals! Whether you take BIG or small steps, all that matters is that you're moving forward.