Tracking Food: Is It Necessary for Weight Loss?
We have probably all heard at one point or another that you can't truly lose weight unless you track your food intake. However, I'm here to answer the age old question of, is this really true? Do we HAVE to track every food, drink, condiment and piece of gum we put into our mouth to be successful at losing weight? The answer is: only sometimes.
Let's be honest, you are probably exhausted from trying every diet, fad, trend, pill (please stop taking weight loss pills if you are doing this) or exercise out there to try and lose weight and keep it off for good. Tracking food is certainly one way to lose weight but lets weigh the pros and cons here.
Pros of tracking food for weight loss:
Accountability - you have to write down what you ate so you might not be a likely to have the one bite of something that isn't as great for your plan.
Identifies areas of improvement - we can see exactly what needs to be adjusted for optimal success.
Provides reference point for calories & macros - we can see if we are going way over or way under calories or if our macronutrients are not balanced for weight loss.
Cons of tracking food for weight loss:
Can promote anxiety - tracking every bit of food, drink, sauce whatever can be exhausting and can take time out of our already busy day.
Can trigger obsession with numbers - it can be easy to fall into a very rigid mindset and let the calorie and macro ranges rule us. This is not healthy.
Doesn't teach us long term skills - we can easily rely on using an app to tell us how much to eat rather than getting in tune with our intuition and understanding true portion sizes of foods.
So, where do I fall on this topic when coaching my clients on successful weight loss and tracking food? I don't recommend tracking food right from the get go (unless my client WANTS to start that way) simply because I start with teaching the foundations of timing of eating, portion size and content of foods first. These are things we can learn without an app dictating what can fit into our "diet". Plus, we can save so much time from not having to track day in and day out! Now, there does come a time when tracking food can be necessary to see progress. When I do recommend to track food intake, it is usually only for a week or two to get a snapshot of what is being eaten and how much on average. I do not recommend long term tracking. Certain situations may call for tracking food intake such as when clients claim everything is perfect in their diet but they aren't seeing progress or if they are unsure if they are truly hitting the right range of macros or calories or if they need any extra layer of accountability to stay on track.
So whether you track or not, I would say it has its pros and cons but might not be the best to adopt as a lifestyle. It it best to adopt as something that can help you reset or touch home base again as a realignment with your plan. If you are looking for advice on weight loss and the best tips to losing weight without tracking food intake, click here for your FREE discovery call or book your consultation if you know you want to gain the structure, education and support to lose weight and keep it off for good! I hope you have a fantastic week! :)
Katie Janeczek MS, RDN, LDN