Should women track calories, macronutrients, points or … [fill in the blank]?
POSTED BY: Jenn Hockaday on July 8, 2017, 1:15 p.m.
Almost daily, we see a news story (or a blog or Facebook post) with someone singing the praises of a food-tracking tool or program. But news hype aside, what should you track? Is it calories (because calories do count, of course)? What about macronutrients (i.e., protein, carbs, fat, etc.)? What about counting points or units of food?
In the work I do as a trainer for Time 2 Change Fitness for Women and also outside of work, I get asked this question a lot — most often from women and with a “What’s the very best method for me, Jenn?” spin.
I typically ask what the goal is behind the person’s question. Then, I tend to recommend MyFitnessPal (MFP), because you can use it for very detailed tracking or as “loosely” as one prefers.
I recommend people set up macronutrient target goals and total calories in MFP, because it keeps you aware of and accountable for what you’re eating. Also, it helps me as a trainer fully evaluate what you are consuming — meals at home and at restaurants and any and all foods and liquids you eat.
Tracking can be a burden to some and a fun task to others. We all lead busy lives and have different goals, careers and time commitments. I prefer a divide and conquer approach if I’m actively helping someone with MFP tracking. I ask them to focus on their total calories and portion sizes and then let me keep an eye on the macronutrient details. Then I can analyze what they’re eating and offer advice if their macronutrient ratios start falling out of balance.
Just like there is no one way to exercise, there is no one way to eat according to your fitness goals. For clients who don’t want to use MFP, I recommend pre-portioned dinnerware that has compartments for protein, carbs, vegetables and a fat source. With this meal-time tool, all you have to think about is what you’ll fill it with — and it can be a great tool for anyone wanting to eat for general fat loss.
Numerous studies have shown that tracking what you eat — and also journaling your “food moods” (how you feel when you’re eating, rating your fullness “level,” etc.) — can help you lose weight and make healthier choices. If you’re interested in learning about Time 2 Change Fitness’ nutrition support program where you receive coaching for one month or longer, visit our informational page. If you have a general question about food tracking, email our team.