I get this question a lot. “You always talk about tracking food, do I need to do that forever?”
Short answer, NO.
I recommend everyone tracks their food at some point though. Not because it is the only way to see results, but because most people have NO clue what they eat, how much they eat and aren’t even aware of half the food they put in their body.
According to studies, people underestimate their calorie intake by about 50%.
More than 4,000 people tracked what they are for four days. Men reported consuming an average 2,065 calories a day, but were estimated to actually consume 3,119; while women reported 1,570 but actually consumed 2,393.
This brings up the often made point “I barely eat, and still can’t lose weight!”
It’s not that people are willfully lying about their food intake (maybe some do) – but most are just not truly aware.
Take my current standard breakfast for example:
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup whites
- 100g of carbs (varies by the day) – let’s say it was my 130 grams of Life Cereal I had this morning (that is 130g of WEIGHT = 100g of carbs, in this case)
- 1 cup of Fairlife Skim Milk
If someone tracked this as is, I would say that is some pretty dang accurate tracking.
But, what about the oil I used for the eggs? Oops forgot to track that (5g coconut oil = 45 cals)
And the veggies – didn’t track them, but likely 50 calories or so.
Oh, then Adalynn didn’t finish her oatmeal, so I had a couple of bites of that (20 calories?)
So right there, even though they were all healthy calories, it still was 115 calories unaccounted for…at one meal. Project this over 2 more meals, and that could easily be a 300-400 calorie swing, which is enough to move you from a deficit (eating less than you burn) to a surplus (eating more than you burn)
This is why I highly encourage consistent tracking for at least a couple of weeks to get an idea of what you actually eat.
Once you educate yourself on this and become more aware, you can make some tweaks.
Once things start going in the right direction, and you get into a routine or have a vacation coming up, or something called life happens…this is where the lesson needs to be applied.
After tracking for a while, and seeing what your ideal intake actually looks like, you CAN take a little step away from tracking…BUT this doesn’t mean you need to go fully off the rails.
Try to keep meals consistent, and duplicate portions sizes, and keep in a solid routine when not tracking.
But still, you should be monitoring SOMETHING. Your weight, your measurements, your performance in the gym…and if it starts to go the wrong way, maybe it’s time to get back to tracking.
If you maintain your loss without tracking, then that’s great! The eventual goal IS to maintain! Maintenance “practice” while taking a break from tracking is a great challenge in itself, and something that with enough practice, can be done!
IT takes practice, and it takes time – but once you learn more about the foods you eat, and make adjustments, and LEARN from the process (this is why meal plans FAIL, they don’t teach you anything ACTIONABLE), you can APPLY what you learned and build on it, take breaks, and jump back in the game when you are ready to make more changes.
If you still are stumped with all this, let me know, and let’s jump on a call!
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Stay healthy my friends,