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Why Track What I Eat?

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I hear people all the time ask “Why should I track my calories and what I eat? I know I’m eating healthy foods”  This is a common question that a lot of people have asked…and one that I originally asked myself.  I used to laugh at the idea of tracking what I ate!  I just figured that if I ate decent healthy foods that it didn’t really matter exactly how much I ate.  WRONG!  I had no idea how much I was eating until I started tracking it…I was shocked!  This is one of the most important things I have learned after completing a full round of P90X… the importance of fueling your body with not only pure and healthy foods, but also in the right amounts.

The one hard truth in being healthy and fit is that your nutrition is 70% of your results…with your actual workout being only 30%!  I always tell people to remember the 70/30 rule.  How many times have you tried to start a new workout program only to give up after a short time because you were only seeing minimal results?  This is usually what happens when the nutritional aspect is NOT a main focus of your program.  Those people work their tail off on the workouts and think that because of all the exercise  they are getting, they can eat whatever they want.  Then they see hardly  any change and lose the motivation to do the workouts at all.  When somebody tells me they have been doing the workouts (Insanity/P90X) but not losing any weight my first question is, “Are you following the nutrition plan?”  Their response is always no.

So, how do we make our nutrition a main focus?  First, we have to pick a plan that will help you reach your  specific goals.  Are you trying to lose body fat?  Gain muscle mass?   Lose body fat and gain muscle mass?  Tone up?  Maintain?  I have some  great tips on these under “Nutrition” tab.

There is alot of great information, figure out what you think will work best for you, develop a plan of attack and stick with it.

Okay, then what?  You’ve got a plan.  You know what will get you to the  goal.  How do you follow through DAILY to make sure you are right on  track?  You simply MUST track  your nutrition. I’ve been doing this for over 4 months and I  still track everything because I don’t want anything to derail me from  my fitness goals.  If I get off track on my calories or percentages, I  will know it instantly!  I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve  had with people who are frustrated because they are “eating healthy” but  not getting to the goal they set.  Almost without fail, when I go  through the tracking system and they actually plug in their numbers,  they are off track.  Their carbs are too high.  Their total calories are  too high due to serving sizes.  They aren’t getting enough protein.   Etc., etc.

So how do you begin tracking your nutrition?  This is easy!  It takes  time, but it’s easy!  I have an I Pod and I downloaded the app “Tap & Track”! (*Update: I am currently using MyFitnessPal to track my calories.  Its free and very user friendly)  Pick a tracking program that you can use EVERY DAY to track your total calories, your % protein, your %  carbs, and your % fat.  I also like to track my calories burned, that way I can compare workouts and try to increase my calorie burn the next time, crazy – I know.

The hardest part is inputing the information for the first time.  Many popular foods will already be in  the database on websites like fitday and on Tap & Track, but you  will still have to look several of them up.  Once you have all of your  favorite foods entered on your tracking website / phone app., inputing  what you eat is a breeze.  You just have to commit to doing it!

Some rules of thumb to keep in mind as you develop your database of  foods and start tracking:

  • Protein has 4 calories per gram.
  • Carbs have 4 calories per gram.
  • Fat has 9 calories per gram.

(So on a 2,000 calorie diet with fat shredder %, you will want 100o  cals from protein, 600 cals from carbs, and 4oo cals from fat.  This  would mean 250 g protein, 150 g carbs, and 45 g fat).

Try to be as close to your target calories and percentages every  day.  If you went a little high on carbs at lunch (which you’ll know by  tracking it), then guess what you get to do at dinner!!!  That’s right!   Adjust to hit your daily goal.  And try to keep your calories balanced throughout the day with  mulitple, small, well-spaced meals.  I like 5-6 meals (3 main meals plus  3 snacks).  This keeps the body fueled and the metabolism revved up!

I hope this info about tracking your nutrition not only helps you understand how to get started with it, but motivates you to really do it and give as much (or more) effort to this part of your fitness as you do to the workouts!!!


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