Tracking food, whether that is with pen and paper or an app on your phone, is one of the best ways to control your diet. When you write down what you eat, you are more aware of the choices you are making. Food journaling can help you drop pounds or put on muscle, but only when done correctly.
It is very easy to miscalculate your calorie intake. Luckily some of the mistakes we make in tracking can be fixed. Keep in mind these five things the next time you go to grab a bite to eat.
If you want an accurate calorie and macronutrient count of the foods you are eating, you need to know how much you are eating. So many of us just eyeball serving sizes thinking we know what a cup looks like. But no one is perfect, even bartenders over pour their drinks. The only full-proof way to know you are eating the right amount is to actually measure out your food.
Too Many Options on MyFitnessPal
If you are tracking your food with an app like MyFitnessPal, you have probably seen how many choices come up when you search for eggs. Every single food on the app seems to have over a dozen options to choose from, and if you look closely some of the nutrition facts vary tremendously. To avoid entering in the wrong food item, I recommend utilizing the barcode scanner tool. You can scan any food label and the correct nutrition information will come up. So long as you eat the proper portion, you will know exactly what you have eaten. If you are eating fresh food, either look for a green checkmark or the letters USD before the food item.
Labels Aren’t The Most Reliable
Food labels are not always telling you the truth. Labels are given a 20% margin of error. That means the food item you are eating could have 20% more calories. Crazy right? There is nothing we can do about this, but it is something to keep in mind. As you track your food, it will never be 100% accurate.
Going out for meals is obviously not ideal when you are trying to count calories and or macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat). When you don’t make the meal yourself, there is no way of knowing how much oil is in it, how much rice is in the dish, and so on. If you want to go out to eat, try to go to a place that has their menu on MyFitnessPal or has their nutrition information written on the menu. If this is not possible, go enjoy your meal and choose something that has lots of lean protein and vegetables.
Not Counting Your “Just A Bite” Calories
Have you ever tried a bit of someone else’s meal? Probably. Have you ever had a small spoonful of peanut butter and not tracked it? This is also likely. Many people, myself included, forget to track their “just a bite” calories. These are the calories where you have a little handful of something and don’t report it to your food log. These calories add up! If you want to eat it, make sure you track it.