During the goal of losing body fat, nutrition is one of the most important things that you need to consistently get right. In order to make progress, you need to be in a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you are consuming) for a long period of time, which means that your calorie target has to be accurate from the start. Consistently staying in this deficit through hitting your calorie target, protein target, training plan and a sustainable form of cardio is going to be the pillar behind achieving your goal.
However, hitting your calorie target consistently can be a challenge for people. Aside from the obvious temptations that can throw things off course, many people simply don’t know how to track how many calories they are consuming on a day-to-day basis. It can become a confusing and complicated process if not done correctly and, as a result, can lead to people giving up. So, how do you track your nutrition so that you know you are hitting your targets consistently?
Log your food
The most important thing when it comes to tracking your nutrition is knowing how to log almost everything you consume on a day to day basis. Food and drink with zero or very few calories, such as vegetables, water, or black coffee do not need to be tracked, but the majority of your meals and snacks do. This is vital for knowing how many calories you are consuming day-to-day basis and if you are hitting your targets that will take you to your goal.
There are two ways to do this. The first is to use an app on your phone (e.g. MyFitnessPal) in which you can log in everything you have eaten and it will display the calories and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats) based on the quantity you have consumed. The second, more-old fashioned, way is to write it down in a diary/journal. To do this, check the nutritional values on the packets of your food, figure out how much you are going to have, and then write down the calories and macronutrients down. This can also be an efficient way of staying on track.
Check Nutrition on Back of Packet
If you prefer to track your food through writing it down but are not sure about the calories and macronutrients within your meal, it is important that you use the nutrition on the back of the packet to guide you. For snacks (e.g. protein bars, protein shakes, fruit), where you usually eat the whole amount, you can look at what you have consumed on the nutrition label on the packet, where is will give your the information for the whole amount. However, if you are going to have only a certain amount of a particular food, you should also refer to the nutrition on the packet, weigh it and then calculate the calories and macronutrients, if it doesn’t already tell you the nutrition for your required amount.
The nutritional label is essential because it gives you an exact idea of how many calories you are consuming with a particular food, rather than making you fly blind. You will then find that once you get into a habit of eating your favourite particualar foods, you will know how many calories you are consuming without having to refer to the label, especially if you are eating the same amount each time. This will improve your knowledge of nutritional values which means that you will have to track less further down the line because you already know the calories and macronutrients within a particular meal or snack. It also means that you can make roughly accurate estimates if you are unable to track your nutrition for a particular meal or on a certain day.
Weigh Your Food
Another very good habit to get into is weighing your food. This does not have to be for everything you eat – vegetables and lean meat, for example, can be tracked with rough estimates – but foods that are higher in calories (usually those with higher fats) should be weighed. This is because if you don’t know exactly how much of that particular food you are having, you then run a risk of consuming more calories than you expect. Calorie dense foods can drastically increase your numbers, so be sure to figure out how much you want to have, weigh it, and then consume it. This is also the case with carbohydrates – although not as calorie-dense as foods that are higher in fats, weighing your carbs is important as it is easy to go overboard on foods such as rice, pasta and bread.
Being able to track your nutrition is absolutely essential for fat loss. It ensures that you are consistently sticking to the required calorie and macronutrient targets that are set and helps you get into a habit of being more sensible and conscious about your diet. Make sure you log your food into a journal, check the nutrition on the back of the packet, and weigh more calorie dense foods, if you are only having a certain amount. Installing these habits will give you a much clearer picture of what you are consuming on a day-to-day basis and therefore keep you on track with achieving your fat loss goal.
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