Stop Hacking Your Diet, Start Tracking It

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You have NO IDEA how much you’re leaving on the table by not tracking your diet, do you? When I tell my athletes, clients, or God forbid family that I want them to track their meals it might as well be a punch to the nuts. But what these people don't realize is that the benefits that come along with tracking macros far outweigh any potential inconvenience. In reality it only takes a few seconds while preparing meals or planning ahead before going out. Tracking macros is the key to success when following nutrition protocols. Below are 4 reasons why tracking macros is one of the most important elements to a nutrition protocol:

Reality check on the total caloric and macronutrient intake

3-day food recalls are a standard in many nutrition protocols. While this can be effective, most people have either no idea what or how much/how little they ate or do not eat the same meals consistently. Tracking macros after every meal helps individuals understand the amount of calories they are actually taking in each day.

For most, this can be a reality check, as it shows that the Double Double with fries and an In-N-Out shake they crushed yesterday will indeed take most, if not all, of their calories for the day with terrible macronutrient (Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein) profiles. On contrary many athletes have no idea what it takes to fuel the fire. Thinking they are tuned in with nutrition, athletes also tend to under eat which leads to decreases in performance and body composition. Dr. Loran Cordain states in his research that the typical western macronutrient breakdown is as follows (23): carbohydrate (51.8%), fat (32.8%), and protein (15.4%)(1). On average, protein intake is below what is recommended and in a case of not weighing or tracking macros many people overestimate their protein intake. After 21 days of tracking it becomes second nature and you start to understand what it takes to fulfill macronutrient intake.

Understanding what foods work with you and what foods work against you

Nutrition is directly related to performance, and many individuals tend to forget that this can be the reason they had a shitty training session or a great game. A byproduct of tracking macros is being able to have a solid record to look back on. By tracking your training and nutrition, you are able to find the foods that work best for you and the foods that you  need to avoid. Without an accurate recall of intake you have to make assumptions of what food affected performance. Let’s be honest we’re always going to pick the foods we savor if we cannot connect increased performance to another option, it’s human nature. At Power Athlete we eat to perform better; therefore, to perform at maximum intensity at all times we need to know exactly what we are putting in our bodies. By tracking macros everyday we are able to understand how certain foods affects our performance.

Being able to accurately adjust macronutrient ratios and caloric intake for progress

This is the most important point made on why you should weigh and track your macronutrients. When you check in we need to have an accurate recall of what the macronutrient intake has been. Guesstimating will not work when it comes to adjusting diet just as guesstimating your PRs will not help you for competition weights.  After an athlete checks in and gives an accurate recall on their intake over the week, coaches are able to accurately assess and adjust the protocol to keep the progress rolling. When @Cali was on Jacked Street she properly dialed in her macros and was able to make the necessary changes when progress slowed. By being meticulous with  tracking macros @Caligot absolutely jacked AND lean by shedding twenty pounds while maintaining LBM.

The Social Situation

 

The biggest payoff to being meticulous with weighing and tracking macros, has to be social situations. At Power Athlete we have two very important sayings “don’t be weird,” and “Never turn down a free meal or drink.”  That being said, you don’t want to be the person at the restaurant with the pocket scale, and you definitely don’t want to turn down that date to the steak house. This does not mean go crazy and start slamming Twinkies because they fit your macros BRO, food quality is paramount, make educated decisions and always eat for performance. In these situations, you have been planning, weighing, and tracking macros everyday. So when a social situation pops up you are able track around this meal without going off your plan.

I know that a handful of people will complain that they are “too busy”, do not have time to weigh and track each meal, don’t be this person. You’re not a child, a whole day of tracking will only take 30 minutes out of the time you devote to watching the bachelor. Eventually tracking will not be “tracking” anymore. As is true with all new endeavors, over time it will just a part of the daily grind. You will no longer have to take swings at cutting macros, you will have a solid baseline to accurately increase or decrease macros to help you crush your goals. Not only that, but your margin for error with “guessing” or “estimating” will significantly decrease, so that through measuring and tracking macros you can actually stay more compliant, and continue to be the life of the party rather than the nerd with the pocket scale. In the next article we will touch on a few tips to survive these social situations, as well as how to track efficiently and effectively, betches.

 

Sources:

  1. Cordain, L(2005) Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health , American Journal Clinical Nutrition.