Nutrition is a huge part of the program that we offer here at Gage Strength Training. The fact is that you can workout as hard as you want, but if you aren’t making changes to your diet, you’ll never see the results that you want.
It’s true what they say – if you want to SEE a change you have to MAKE a change.
I meet with hundreds of clients every single year to discuss their goals and help them change their body and I have every single person start with one thing:
Tracking calories for 10 days.
It’s probably the most boring and tedious thing you can do, but it’s also the most effective.
First, here’s WHY you need to track your calories:
- We are horrible at estimating calories
Studies show that when Americans are asked to estimate how many calories they typically eat in a day, their estimations are, on average, 1,000 calories OFF of what they are actually eating.
That’s the average.
So, you may think you’re eating a clean and healthy 1600 calories per day, but there’s a very good chance you are eating 2500 calories per day.
The first reason we need to track calories is purely for our own awareness. It shines a light on proper serving sizes, and some foods that are secretly calorie bombs that we never knew.
When you track your calories for 10 days, you’ll start to get a very clear picture of what you’re eating.
- We eat the same foods all the time.
You’ll notice that I only ask that clients track for 10 days. The reason is that we tend to eat the same foods all the time.
When I meet with clients and I ask them what a typical day of eating looks like, it usually goes like this:
Breakfast I either eat X or Y, lunch is always X, and dinner is a X, Y or sometimes Z.
We all have habits and patterns that we repeat in our diets, so when you track for 10 days, you pretty much cover everything you eat on a regular basis.
Once you start tracking each meal, you’ll start to see the REAL portion sizes compared to what you have been eating and can start to make adjustments based on that.
- Mindless eating.
A research group asked a group of people how many “food related” decisions they made every single day.
They estimated that they made about 20-30 decisions about food everything single day.
Next, they tracked the reality.
Reality is that people are making 200+ food related decisions every single day. These decisions include walking by the pantry and NOT grabbing a snack, resisting a donut in your office break room, driving by McDonalds on the way to work and not stopping, etc.
What this study showed was how “mindless” a lot of what we do really is…and that includes eating!
People tend to consume hundreds of calories without even realizing it. If we don’t really focus on remembering what we ate everyday – or tracking it in real-time – we tend to miss all the little things like picking a few french fries off our kids plates, grabbing some M+Ms from the office candy dish, or a quick handful of snacks out of the pantry while on the phone.
Mindless eating can account for hundreds of calories every single day, and when you commit to tracking your calories and bringing a huge amount of focus to it, you’ll start to see where the numbers add up!
So, now that you know WHY you should be tracking calories, here’s the HOW.
First, I want you to make sure you have all the tools you need:
A food scale, measuring cups, and the MyFitnessPal app.
Next, you need to commit. This next 10 days will require focus and effort, but I want you to make this your #1 priority!
Do this now and do it well, and you won’t have to do it again for a long time!
For 10 days, track every ounce of food you eat. Here are a few tips to get the most accurate measurements:
- If you make a meal, use a food scale to weigh every raw (uncooked) ingredient.
- If you cook a large meal for the family, portion your OWN meal out completely separately and cook in a different pan. This way, for the final product, you will know exactly how much is in it and have a frame of reference for the next time you make the meal as a family.
- Cooking oils and butter must be weighed. These are the sneaky high-calorie foods that you have to account for every single day
- All snack need to be weighed and tracked- If you eat a handful of almonds, you should know exactly what they weigh and how many there were!
This may sound over-kill, but I promise you that this process will be incredibly eye-opening and enlightening and set you up for success in weight loss and fitness for the foreseeable future!