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Thu, March 15, 2018 | Nutrition

Tracking not obsessing

There is a fine line between tracking foods and obsessing over them.

Obsessive behaviours can occur when trying to hit the exact gram of every macronutrient. This can be started with the best intentions, but can quickly lead to anxiety and elevated cortisol, which can have an adverse effect. I have had messages in the past from concerned clients worrying about which meal to have on a menu, which I guess as a coach is a positive behaviour, to begin with. That being said, I will always address any issues with food choices during the following session and ensure they understand they own the food choices they make – this can result in a simple exercise of playing with macronutrients over a few days to cater for an influx of calories consumed on a meal out.

My experience has brought me to the conclusion that tracking daily is essential for those looking to achieve a competition physique or to make a weight class for an event. This is because there is not much room for error with this type of goal, whereas those looking to drop a couple dress sizes or unveiling your abs for a few weeks of the year on the beach, then making smart choices with foods and not over-indulging whilst increasing overall activity will help you achieve your goals.

Let’s look at the benefits of tracking your food and fluid intake…

It allows you to see everything you eat, your calorie intake and the macronutrient breakdown.

Based on my experience, working with a variety of clients towards their own goals, we all have a tendency to consume more than we tell ourselves. There are countless studies showing an increase in overall weight loss when subjects tracked versus not tracking and this is largely down to the counting of calories.

You can set yourself targets to hit to aid with body composition.

Whenever I am going to take myself from a maintenance phase of my training into a surplus (bulk) or deficit (cut), I set myself clear targets to achieve so I am not just “pissing in the wind” trying to get to my desired body composition. For example, I could take myself from 2500 kcals down to 2100 kcals over a few weeks adjusting depending on how I respond or vice versa, go from 2100 all the way to 2900 kcals and reverse dieting into a surplus.

It can help with making better food choices.

When eating out or grabbing something on the go, having a reliable tracking app that allows you to scan barcodes and easily make a sensible choice is ideal so that you do not steer away from your set caloric goals.

Awareness of your decisions

It will make you aware of your eating habits and whether they change when socialising with certain friends or family. Does the speed at which you are eating change, do you consume more or less food etc.?

It can highlight the things that you are doing well already.

Whether that’s preparing meals, sticking to certain foods or being mindful with snacking. It can also show you bad habits. Although there are positives from counting your calories, many people believe that they can install negative behaviour.

– Tommy Owen, Starks Fitness Temple Quay General Manager

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