Did you know that you’re more likely to reach your health goals while tracking food? Keeping a food diary tells a story that’s so much more than how many calories you’ve consumed. Read on to learn the benefits of tracking food (whether it’s an app or pen and paper).
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What Is The Best Food Tracking App
There are a ton of different tracking apps out there to experiment with.
I recently compared the MyFitnessPal vs Lose It App and you can read the ins and outs in that post.
That being said, the best tracking app is the one that you can understand best and works best for your lifestyle. Whether you need a barcode scanner, using it as a macro tracker, or just want a free version there is something out there for you.
Most of the health apps are available for both iPhone (IOS) and android.
Benefits of Tracking Your Food
There are more benefits to tracking food than counting calories and tracking for weight loss.
Tracking gives you the knowledge of looking at your goals and seeing what’s affecting them.
Find Hidden Food Intolerances
When you track what you’re eating you start finding patterns.
If you’ve been plagued with GI upset in the afternoons and then you look back on your food diary and see that you’ve been having a soft cheese platter every day at 2, you can start putting two and two together.
Find How Food Makes You Feel
In addition to tracking what you’re eating, it’s important to also make notes on how you feel after eating.
Do you feel bloated? Are you feel comfortable? Do you have pain in your belly? Sometimes these symptoms will show up 12 hours after eating, so having a food journal is key.
This is a great way to link symptoms to particular foods.
This is also a great way to learn your emotional triggers.
Ensure You’re Eating Enough
The majority of my clients are not eating enough. Yes, many of these apps work as a calorie counter but instead of focusing on how little you should eat – it’s about how much you can.
We tend to think that less is more but our bodies need fuel to perform at it’s best and to drive us to our goals.
Track Your Macros
Another key that I notice with clients is that they’re not eating enough protein.
When you lack protein, you’re hungrier throughout the day. By tracking how much protein, carbs, and fats you’re getting in the day you can achieve balance in your food intake.
I love macros because the lifestyle changes you make are little tweaks, not massive changes. You no longer fear carbohydrates (yay bread), you actually know that it’s fuel for your muscles (and your brain). You see a sandwich for what it is: a balance of carbs, fats, and protein.
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You See The Gaps In Your Nutrition
When you look back on your day or look forward to the rest of the day you will see what you’re missing.
When you look over what you’ve eaten you may see that you haven’t actually had a vegetable yet that day, so you’re more likely to reach for some carrots or a salad for lunch. This brings healthy habits forward on our own terms.
You Pay Attention to More Than Just Calories
In addition to the number of calories you consume or your macros, you start seeing the importance of other key factors to your goals of living a healthier lifestyle. Examples of this would be fiber, maybe cholesterol, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
One of my favorite metrics to track is my fiber. As women, we should be aiming for at least 25 grams a day and many of us are not getting it.
If you’re tracking your sodium intake, you can also find that in these apps as well. It gives you a closer look at your overall health.
It Puts You In The Drivers Seat
Once you have all the information you need, you’re in charge.
By looking at your past food database and seeing how certain foods make you feel, you are in control. If you know that spicy food gives you a tummy ache, but you love that spicy stir fry you make and want to roll the dice – at least you know.
Maybe you notice that you wake up puffy after having popcorn the night before (this is totally me) but want to have a family movie night anyway. At least you know what to expect.
There will be leeways for you and hard passes, but you’ll understand your body more.
You’ll understand that you always have a sweet tooth at night, so you save room and rearrange your eating day to have something with chocolate in it at night.
By doing this, you no longer deprive yourself. You understand what WORKS for you as an individual. This is better than meal plans because it’s not rigid. There is flexibility and freedom for the days you need to go with the flow.
As you can tell it’s more than just fat loss, even if weight maintenance was your initial goal you learn more as you go. It paints a bigger picture for your health and fitness goals and helps you reach your goals with nutrition education.