5 More Reasons to Track Your Food Intake, Calories, & Macros
Computer screens don’t laugh at your penis and poop jokes.
That’s the main reason I still work with clients in da gym, and don’t spend all of my time writing online.
A second reason is that there are some hot chicks that work at my gym.
A third reason is that you get to learn about some of the real problems people face in their fitness efforts, try to come up with practical solutions, test and assess and refine your methods, and see how the advice you are giving (both online and off) ultimately impacts people’s real world results.
Some of the writers who devote their whole day, career, life, and afterlife to pontificating about fitness just don’t know what is going on in the Suit-to-Spandex Streets baby. Off the glossy magazine pages and outside academic circle jerks, busy professionals are struggling to find sustainable fat loss plans.
One of the biggest obstacles people face is figuring out how to integrate an optimized fat loss diet into an overall lifestyle plan. In non-geeky terms, how to get and stay lean without becoming a crazy obsessed fitness person that freaks out if they can’t get tuna or protein shakes every 2.5 hours.
This dietary dilemma on top of career craziness is leading to frustration, struggle, poor results, and people laughing less at my above mentioned penis and poop jokes. Here’s a quick test to see if you are over-stressed. Does this photo make you laugh, or sit there stone-faced?
Maybe you’ve grown up too much my friend. Take it down a notch.
PLANS ON PAPER VS. REAL-WORLD RESULTS
While its cool to TALK about living like a caveman, or to HAVE a calculus looking, bio-hacking diet strategy, its even cooler to TAKE the real-world steps necessary to actually reach your physique goals.
And bat shit crazy stuff can work in the short-term, but it rarely sticks as a long-term plan when you have one of those meaningless things called a life. You know, social shindigs, a significant other, business dinners, hobbies, travel hassle, etc.
So a few weeks ago – damn man, time’s flying – I posted up an article and video about food, calorie, and macronutrient tracking. I talked about who I thought should do it, when it is useful, why its not just for crazy fitness competitors, and how it can help beginners get started making more informed food choices, etc.
If you missed it, here’s da original post: When and How You Should Track Your Food Intake, Calories, and Macros.
Since that time, I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations with a few of my friends and private clients. Once they stopped whining about doing something useful rather than looking for the next magic pill, they were stoked about what tracking taught them about implementing practical weight loss strategies in the real world.
They were even more stoked when they discovered that gaining a little nutrition knowledge, empowerment, and a tool to increase dietary flexibility yielded some pretty quick physique results.
Here are five fantastic reasons you should get on the rails of a tracking train:
1. SELF AWARENESS
It ends mindless eating and snacking, and just helps you become more aware about your food habits. Hey dude, maybe that breakfast muffin is what is triggering your midmorning hunger, sleepiness, brain farts, butt farts, and mocha cravings.
Cheating every day is not cheating at all. It’s actually just a shitty diet with a fancy fitness term attached to it.
It shows you how the typical foods and meals you eat impact your diet numbers, which in turn impacts your ability to lose fat.
Are you “eating healthy” or “eating low fat” or “eating Paleo” or “eating low-carb” but still not losing weight? Unless you are a genetic anomaly, you won’t lose weight in a calorie surplus no matter how cutting edge or “metabolically advantaged” your diet plan supposedly is.
What are your macronutrient numbers looking like? Maybe you are sedentary and going too high in carbs? Maybe you are an anaerobic athlete and are going too low in carbs and too high in fats? We can feel like we are doing things right, but objective numbers tell the true story.
Many coaches these days want you co-dependent on them. It’s an ego or revenue stream thing I guess? That ain’t my style man, because I don’t believe the process is all that mysterious or complicated.
Trust me, you consistently hit the right diet numbers (tracking will show you the objective truth) and find the right diet structure that makes doing that as easy as possible, and you WILL get results. There are not a lot of real secrets when it comes to fitness and fat loss, despite the abundance of ads making you think you need to run in David Copperfield’s circle to lose weight.
Besides, you’d get sick of me quickly. I get sick of myself often. And I definitely get sick of saying the same things over and over. Dude, I can’t talk about fitness shit all day. That’s why I integrate philosophy posts from time-to-time — just for pure sanity.
I recommend an Island-style diet template and think you should stick to that the majority of time for overall health, digestive health, and the satiety impacts of food — animal proteins, eggs, vegetables, whole fruit, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and white rice. You can check out our Free Beach Physique Guide for a more thorough description of that.
The unbiased truth is you can reach your physique goals as long as you hit your diet numbers, regardless of what foods you eat. But it is damn hard to cut calories and stay the course while eating refined crap. You’ll be nutritionally deficient, with wild blood sugar swings, unstable energy levels, and uncontrollable food cravings.
However, I’m also a realist. In the modern world, Island-style eating just ain’t happening all the time. We have too many choices and food friends. Ben & Jerry, Aunt Jemima, Jack Daniels, Kara and her frickin’ cupcakes — everyone always wants to party. But just like at work, you can’t party all the time and get shit done (especially if you are not in your early 20’s).
What if you shoot for 80-90% of the time?
With tracking, you can still hit your numbers despite a little more leeway with your food choices. And the right diet numbers are the most important step for attaining your physique goals.
Despite tracking being a little bit of a pain in the ass in the short-term, it creates a lot more dietary flexibility in the long-term. Want to work in some different foods to your diet plan? Don’t want to give up bread and pasta forever? Dig the occasional dessert?
Cool, just make sure your occasional food choices off the template fit within your targeted diet numbers for the day, and you’ll keep slashing that fat away.
You’ll also see how any meal at any restaurant can fit into your target numbers for the day. No more “I gotta eat out all of the time” excuses. This is key for an uptown girl, a downtown professional, or anyone else who eats the majority of their meals away from home.
*Although on a side note, the way foods are cooked these days (in butter and oil), I’d add an extra 15-30g of fat on top of whatever food databases say are the fat totals for specific “restaurant meals”.
Of course reasons 1-4 lead to the Real Reason #5 – it helps create a sustainable lifestyle plan that will have you living lean year-round. You’ll know what you’re actually doing, where you’re slipping up, how you can improve, how you can stay on track with your plan anywhere, how you can integrate some food flexibility into more rigid dietary templates based on personal preference, etc.
It is no different than tracking your spending habits or expenses when you are having trouble with your personal finances or business cash flow. You gotta know where money is coming from, and where it is going out to. Maybe too many “business lunches” at “adult entertainment establishments” are why you are in credit card debt?
To hammer this thing home, here is a video I filmed on this tracking topic. In my onscreen ramblings, I covered some additional topics like why tracking macronutrients is more important than just counting calories, and finding the middle ground between extreme craploading/IIFYM plans vs. obsessive compulsive, bodybuilding & fitness diva diets.
Until next time my food tracking fitness friend…
Posted on July 18, 2014, in Nutrition and tagged calorie counting, calories, flexible dieting, food tracking, healthy restaurant eating, how many carbs, how much dietary fat, how much protein, if it fits your macronutrients, IIFYM, macro tracking. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.