If You Don't Track Your Diet You Are Wasting Your Time
By Marc David
Frankly, I'm puzzled whenever I hear this from somebody who's frustrated with their lack of gains:
Me: So what are you eating? How many calories per day and how many do you need?
Them: I don't know. I just eat.
Yes, it's true. People don't track their diets, don't calculate their calories and just guess at what they need. They have no idea where they are going, very little facts on how to get there and yet are frustrated and mad when 6 weeks later they don't see the results.
Imagine, for a moment, that's it's 6-months from today. And you've made no progress. Wouldn't you be frustrated?! I sure would.
But here's the deal, there's a real simple method to make sure you don't end up like so many people you'll hear about. Please don't be the person who just "eats or does whatever without a plan. If you aren't tracking your diet you are wasting your time!
Let me explain"
In order for your body to change, you must do something different. Let's suppose that you want to burn as much fat as possible. What's the first thing you should do now that you have a long-term goal in mind?
Here's a h-i-n-t!
Make a plan!
A quick plan for losing fat:
1. Determine how many calories a day you need based on your situation
2. Track your daily food intake (yes you should count calories
Bodybuilding manuals go into great detail about how to calculate your caloric intake, giving formulas and such.
Anyway, a typical conversation might go like this:
"Excuse me? My wife made spaghetti bolognaise yesterday, I can't be asked to weigh my meals in order to count the calories, can I? (What would she think about me (not to mention what I would think about myself ;-) ?)
I tried to go to fitday.com and calculate the calories, but it totally eluded me how many grams they were and looking for pasta and meat in different categories is a hassle anyway, so the site was no use for me with that.
Good heavens, there must be a way to go without the calorie counting, mustn't it?"
Despite what you may have heard"
Tracking your diet (counting calories) is important and I'll tell you why and how you can get around the whole calorie counting ordeal.
You see, in order to lose fat or gain muscle you need to know what you are eating in order to do such.
Let's say you need 3000 calories a day to maintain your current weight at your current activity levels.
Now you decide you want to lose fat.
Training more and more, more cardio, longer sessions will just tire you out. You can bump up the cardio and do certain fat loss tips and techniques but overall keep in mind:
Where do I burn the fat:
80% of fat loss comes from diet and 20% from cardio.
As you can see, the area you want to manipulate is the diet.
Back to the example.
You decide to lose the fat. You know you need 3000 a day to maintain. You do some calorie calculations and find that you want to be aggressive and cut your calories by 20%. It's aggressive but it's just enough to get fast results without making your body go into a 'starvation mode' and hold onto everything it's got.
Except you don't want to count calories.
That's sort of like saying...
I want to start in New York and get to California but I don't want a map or directions. I just want to drive West.
It just won't work. You might zig zag here and there. Maybe one week you'll eat less and lose a pound. The next on vacation you'll overdo it and gain 5 pounds. Who knows. You won't.
But do you have to count each calorie? And especially when you look at homemade items that have some many ingredients? What do you do?
While this isn't the most accurate method, I just basically get a good estimate by looking up the general food item, quantity I consumed and input that.
Over time, because I eat a lot of the same things for breakfast, I already know the calories and I don't need to track it anymore. I know via portions that a bowl of oats is such and such calories and how it adds into my total daily allowance.
I personally do not weight each piece of food. I will go to lunch, look at what I'm eating and know generally what portions of what I ate.
At the end of the day, I know roughly that I'm 20% below my maintenance for fat loss and 20% above for weight gain.
The problem that most people have is exactly what you describe.
They DO NOT want to track what they eat.
The bottom line is, if you don't know where you are, and where you are going, you really don't know how you'll get there and it's no wonder so many people are frustrated.
Look, you don't have to track every single piece of food you put into your mouth. And I know that when there's a home cooked meal, you aren't likely to know what's in it. But you can and should generally get an idea.
Eventually you can track your portions if you tend to eat a lot of the same things every day.
If you don't track your diet, you are wasting your time.
About The Author
Marc David is a bodybuilder, writer, and author of the the e-book "The Beginner's Guide to Fitness and Bodybuilding" (BGFB): What Every Beginner Should Know but Probably Doesn't. The Beginner's Guide is oriented towards fitness minded men and women who are just starting or have worked out for years without results.