10 Ways To Make Sure Your Tracking Isn’t Hindering Your Progress
Written by Rev Nutritionist, Kristin Mason
Tracking your food has become a lot easier with the aid of tracking apps such as MyFitnessPal or Lose It. They are an excellent way to keep track of what you are eating and reach your goals while being flexible with your diet. The problem though, is that if you’re not seeing results, it could be due to your tracking. Your body is the ultimate tracker, so even if your tracking app looks perfect, your results will come from your body’s tracking, not the app’s tracking. Here are 10 ways to make sure you’re correctly and accurately tracking your food
1. Weigh and measure your food.
It is very important to weigh and measure your food to ensure accuracy. Food scales allow you to see exactly how much you are consuming and take away the error that comes along with estimating. And since you can’t always weigh or measure your food, for instance if you are out to eat, weighing your food when you can will give you a better idea of what you are eating when you are out.
2. Track it how you weigh it.
If you weigh your food raw, track it raw. If you weigh your food cooked, track it cooked. When you cook meat, the weight decreases due to loss of water and juices. If the food is raw when you purchase it, the food label will contain the raw macros (unless otherwise specified), so only use the food label macros if you are weighing it raw. If you weigh it after it’s cooked, type “cooked” into the search box when you add the food to your food diary. The macros don’t change when the food is cooked, but the weight does. 4oz of raw chicken will weigh less after it is cooked, whereas 2oz of pasta will weigh more.
3. Track it THEN eat it.
Do not eat then track! By tracking first, it allows you to make any necessary adjustments. Maybe if you have one cup of rice and 3oz of chicken breast, you’ll be over in carbs and under in protein. But if you change that to ½ cup of rice and 4oz of chicken breast, you’ll hit your numbers perfectly. It’s those little adjustments that can keep you consistently within your macro ranges. And don’t save all your tracking for the end of the day!! You can’t just eat whatever you want and magically hope you’ll hit your numbers. Tracking at the end of the day also may leave you forgetting to enter foods that you ate during the day.
4. Count all carbs, not net carbs
If you look at a nutrition label, you will often see two different carb numbers. One for total carbs and one for net carbs. We do not count net carbs! We count total carbs. Net carbs are the total carbs minus the amount of fiber and sugar alcohols in the product. So make sure the entry you choose accounts for total carbs.
5. Track the oil you cook with.
If you are adding oil to your food when you cook, the oil will count towards your fats. If you add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to a pound of chicken breast when cooking it, you’re adding 15g of fat per 4oz of chicken. And if you’re not accounting for this, that’s an extra 135 calories, which will add up. Opt for low or zero calorie dressings/oils to minimize unnecessary fat intake. Pam cooking spray is always a good option. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather get those 15g of fats from two tablespoons of peanut butter.
6. Accurately adjust serving size.
The app allows you to adjust “serving size” as well as the “number of servings”. If the serving size says 3oz, but you had 4oz, change the serving size to 1oz and number of servings to 4 to make it easier on yourself. And if you planned on having 5oz but only actually consumed 4oz, make sure you adjust this in the app!
7. Double check that the entries you choose make sense.
There are many different options to choose in the app, so first make sure the entry you choose makes sense. One egg white does not have 11g of protein. A half cup of quinoa does not have 100g of carbs. Also, make sure the entry has macros, not just calories. And if you had 99% fat free ground turkey make sure you specify that it is 99% lean, don’t just type in ground turkey.
8. Using the correct chicken entry.
We tell you exactly which chicken entry to use in the initial email! “Chicken breast, skinless, cooked plain”. This one is going to be the most accurate cooked chicken breast entry. Please use this one.
9. Add ingredients separately.
If you get a coffee with creamer, don’t’ just choose an entry that says, “coffee with creamer”. You want to add these ingredients separately. “Black coffee 8oz” and then “Creamer 2 Tbsp”. You don’t know how much creamer was accounted for in the app for that entry, so adding it yourself will ensure accuracy. And if it’s something with multiple ingredients that you get regularly, you can create a recipe by going to “my recipes” and adding all the ingredients so you don’t have to add all the ingredients separately in the future.
10. Create a recipe if you’re cooking for multiple people.
Let’s say you made 21 turkey meatballs and the serving size was 7. With that information, you can conclude that one serving would be 3 meatballs. But say you made turkey chili and you knew that the serving size was 5, but you didn’t know how much one serving would be. So in this case what you would do is weigh the total turkey chili, and divide by 5. So if the total turkey chili weighed 500 grams, and you divide by 5, you can conclude that one serving of turkey chili is 100 grams. The app will calculate this for you once you put in the number of servings, all you have to know are the total ingredients.
11. After scanning a food, check that the entry matches up with the nutrition label.
The scanner option is very convenient, but just make sure you are checking that the serving size and macros match up with the nutrition label. Majority of the time it should, but there are numerous products that, when scanned, do not match up with the nutrition label. Also make sure that when scanning, the entry accounts for total carbs, not net carbs.
Written by: Kristin Mason B.S. Nutrition and Dietetics