I know, hear the words food tracking and immediately you think NO WAY, IT’S TOO COMPLICATED, I JUST WANT TO EAT AND NOT WORRY ABOUT IT.
I agree! When I first was told I needed to weigh and measure my food and log it on a daily basis my initial reactions was “Hell no!”. I have spent most of my life struggling with my weight, had an eating disorder throughout my teenage years until I was 21yo. When I was 21yo I literally woke up one day and said “Enough, I refuse to let food control me any longer.” So you can imagine when someone told me I had to be this detailed with my food, I found it repulsing.
Then one day I had a mindset shift. I was not feeling as optimal as I wanted, was about 30lbs overweight, and was looking for a way to feel better. I was eating good food. I decided to hire a macro coach to help with optimizing how much protein, fat and carbs I should eat. I never knew what a portion size really was, and honestly not sure I wanted to know. I decided to give this new diet a shot and see how I felt.
I immediately felt better within days! My sleep improved, my energy was better, I was not hungry and to my surprise I actually started losing weight. I began to appreciate the knowledge I gained about what a well-rounded meal should look like. If I had a day that I did not stick to my macro numbers, I would immediately feel tired, agitated, and wake up in the middle of the night.
I have found food tracking to be so valuable that I encourage all of my patients to do it. Often times they will see 50% improvement in their symptoms simply by optimizing their protein, carb, and fat intake. Once people learn to eat properly, their body starts to respond in a positive way. It may be improved focus, less hot flashes, better energy, better athletic performance, better sleep, and even weight loss.
The most valuable tool I have found is My fitness pal to track your food. There are other apps out there to track food and it honestly does not matter which one you use, just use the one that works best for you.
Here are a few ideas to make this easy:
1). Use an app to track your food. My fitness pal will scan the barcode of a product and automatically upload it to your phone. Some restaurants also have their menu on my fitness pal making it easier if you go out to eat.
2). Weigh your protein. 4oz of a chicken breast vs shredded chicken will look much different. You need to consistently do this so you know what a serving size looks like. If I go out to eat, I immediately know if I am under on protein or over on carbs. I will order double protein with a meal or go home and eat more if I did not get enough. I have learned not eating enough will lead to me eating more later on.
3). Don’t think of recipes, layer your food. What I mean by this is, don’t get stuck on a recipe. People ask me for recipes and it makes me cringe! Recipes are too complicated for me. Every time I sit down to eat, I ask myself “does this meal have a protein, a fat and a carb?”. I make sure each meal is balanced and not just one thing, meaning don’t just eat eggs or cereal for breakfast.
4). Evenly distribute your food throughout the day. This will keep your blood sugar stable and prevent you from overeating. If you are eating 90g of protein per day then make sure you have 30g of protein at each meal.
I clinically have seen people do best when there protein, fat and carbs around between 30 to 35%. This is similar to a zone diet.
So the big question is how many grams of each should I consume? I usually try to get people in the ballpark and recommend women consume the following: protein 75 to 100g. Fat: 60 to 70 g. Carb: 125 to 140g. Sugars < 25g. Fiber >20g. Please note, working with a nutritionist or macro coach can help you to fine tune this depending on your goals and exercise regimen.