We've all had the one friend, or co-worker, that is always talking about what they ate, and are about to eat. They have it down to a science. All of their meals are weighed out with the perfect amount of calories and macro nutrients (carbs, fats, and protein). They can tell you what they are going to eat, and at exactly what time they'll be eating it for the entire week. You may look at them and think to yourself, "That's way too much. You don't need to take it so seriously." Well my friends, this person does have the right idea, to an extent, to meet their goals.
Many of us have a pretty good idea of what foods are healthy, and which ones we should avoid. This is a major factor in living a healthy lifestyle. However, you CAN over eat healthy foods too. If you are looking to lower your body fat percentage that last little bit, but just can't seem to get there, food journaling may be the tool you need.
Now I'm not saying to bust out the scale and start measuring every little thing that goes in your mouth, just be conscious of serving sizes. Look at the nutrition label and see how much of the food you are about to eat is going to give you the number of calories listed. Is that serving portion listed cooked, or right out of the package? Use measuring cups and spoons for the first couple of weeks to get a good idea of what the portion size looks like on your plate. Things like almond butter can add a lot of calories with relatively small amounts because 1 gram of fat has more calories than 1 gram of protein.
If you are going to eat the same thing everyday, you only have to journal for one day to make sure you're eating what you need to hit your goals, just make sure you stick to those foods and keep the portions the same. After you've journaled what you've eaten for about four weeks, you are going to notice that you have a pretty good idea of exactly what foods you can eat throughout the day and stay within your caloric goals.
What's the easiest way to keep a food journal?
There are a lot of free apps out there on the market that make tracking what you eat very simple and very fast. One of my favorite apps is the My Fitness Pal app. You can scan most foods you buy and the nutritional info will already be in the system. It also saves the foods you eat, you can save your own meals, and it lets you set your goals for macro nutrients, letting you know how many grams from each category you have left for the day.
Why does food journaling work?
For those of us that don't always eat the same thing everyday, tracking what you've eaten lets you know what else you CAN eat for the day when you switch it up. Maybe you had something a little higher in carbs than usual at lunch, no need to get down on yourself. You know now that you need fewer carbs with your meals the rest of the day. Been on track the whole day and craving ice cream? Seeing what that ice cream will do to your day may be just what you need to keep from eating it.
So, should you be food journaling? I say if you are not right where you want to be, then yes, food journal for a few weeks to get yourself on track. Use it as a learning tool so you know what foods you can eat throughout the day and still meet your goals, then you won't have to do it all the time, just when you are eating new foods that you aren't sure how they fit into your diet.
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