5 Ways to Track Nutritian
1. BACK TRACKING
Entering a food or meal into MFP tracking app after it has been consumed, usually at the end of the day.
PROS: Get to decide what you want to eat first, you don't need to forward plan or prepare, a lot more flexibility.
CONS: accuracy is low. Unless everything you are consuming is pre-packaged and you know exactly how much you have consumed of all ingredients, your degree of accuracy is too low to make a real impact on your strength and physique goals.
NOTE: Because I tend to eat very similar things for multiple meals during my day/week, I will often weigh and measure my ingredients in food prep (just as I do every time I have that meal) and back track later in the day with those exact ingredients I know I have used (ie, every time I cook my egg whites & dates oats, I weigh and measure 50g oats, 100g dates. 150g egg whites). This is obviously a much more accurate way of back tracking because I have weighed everything out, but it is because I have become the type of woman who habitually eating similar foods on a day-to-day basis that this method has a higher degree of accuracy for this situation.
2. TRACKING AS YOU GO
Track food before you consume it at each separate meal.
PROS: You don't have to forward prepare food and have a lot more 'freedom' to choose as you go
CONS: This way of tracking should not be your 'norm' as it is more time consuming on a daily basis (as you have to pull out the scales at every meal) & is not high in it's level of accuracy (if you're guesstimating portions).
BE AWARE OF: In my opinion, when you open the fridge and ask "What do I feel like eating?" what you're actually asking yourself is: "What emotions am I trying to feed right now?" Sure this way of tracking seems to be great in that you have more freedom of choice as you go, but I want you to think about what's more important to you in the long term: what you feel like consuming right now, or your the results you desire so much?
3. FORWARD PLANNING THE DAY
Deciding what you are going to consume for the day, entering it into MFP then weighing & measuring each ingredient so that it fits your plan. You have more control by ensuring that the food and quantities fit your calorie and macro budget for the day.
PROS: Because you have already calculated, weighed + measured AND prepared your food, the likelihood of you having another day of successful nutrition is high! You don't have to worry about over consuming / under consuming, because if you go about your day and consume only what you've prepared, success is inevitable!
CONS: Because you are planning only 1 day ahead, you have to put the same amount of time and energy into weighing, measuring and preparing your food every single day. You are required to pull out the scales yet again and check every ingredient for each meal the following day. More tedious than it needs to be!
NOTE: Forward planning is absolutely KEY to success! The more you practice this, the more you will notice how much control and choice you have over your nutrition. A little personal rule I have for myself: I always have the next day of food planned in MFP and those meals prepped BEFORE I GO TO BED that evening (more about this in our Collaboration Chat on Personal Power Tool). That way I wake up and am ahead already!
4. FORWARD PLANNING FOR 3-4 DAYS AHEAD
Deciding what you are going to consume for the next 3 to 4 days, entering it into MFP to check you are within your macro budget and then preparing your food according to that plan. You may forward plan MON-WED and then change up your food selections for THUR-FRI and change again to allow for a little more flexibility and freedom for the weekend. This allows for more variety, but does require more of your time to re-plan and prepare (as opposed to eating same food plan for consecutive days).
PROS: The most ideal way of tracking, especially if you are PAIRING IT UP with doing a bulk meal prep! You know where in your week you are going to need to do smaller meal prep top ups, so you are able to forward plan and know when you need more meal prep time and what to prepare. This level of organisation will mean that for the most part of the week, you won't need to spend as much time in the kitchen AND you'll have more days of big green ticks for hitting your daily targets!
CONS: Organisation and forward planning is key! If you think of this method of meal prepping as being rigid, you open yourself up to being your own tyrant. You need to be organised in both your planning and your meal preparation so that you spend LESS TIME IN THE KITCHEN. You make a plan and aim to stick to it, so be sure to plan for WHAT YOU WANT TO CONSUME (see step 1 of 'How to forward plan').
NOTE: Personally, I meal forward plan and meal prep my nutrition for 5 working days and change it up only on weekends. A lot less thought and energy has to go into my nutrition and I spend a lot less time in the kitchen too
5. INTUITIVE EATING
This is a phrase we hear a lot in media these days. The thing that most people neglect to understand is that if you haven't done the work to build your nutritional literacy skills through the experience of weighing + measuring and preparing your food, you haven't used a tracking app to understand what is actually in foods, you don't know what a quality protein source is (no, almonds are not a protein source - they're a fat source!) and you simply see food as 'healthy vs unhealthy', then this method of tracking is not beneficial. You have to develop the skills over time and experience to be able to develop your intuition!