IF YOU ARE LOST OR STUCK? CONSIDER THIS!
Not gaining muscle or strength? Has your fat loss stalled? Are you lacking in energy? Are your cravings out of whack? Although this might not be the exciting answer you were looking to hear, I am going to remind you about a VERY, EFFECTIVE, TOOL that you really need to consider.
AND IT IS.…….A food journal.
Bear with me. It may not be exciting or alluring or the answer you were looking to hear, but if you want information, if you want insight, if you want answers, this is going to be extremely effective.
A food journal or food diary can be super powerful in getting down to how your nutritional habits are impacting your body. A food journal is not just a tool used for weight loss via tracking calories, but rather something that serves to give you insight into how your body is functioning with regard to energy, fat storage, cravings, sports performance, your immunity, and even sleep.
If the idea of a food journal seems too obsessive to you or makes you anxious, it could be that you need to shift your thinking on what you will gain from nutritional tracking. Think about logging what you are currently eating and drinking strictly for the sake of gaining insight, or to collect data. Knowledge is power! Set your mind up first by telling yourself that it is going to be a low pressure activity and reserve all judgement on what you are eating. Do not label your foods “good” or “bad” or “healthy” versus “unhealthy” in your mind as you are logging them into your journal. Simply focus on the activity as “data collection.” There is no crying in baseball and there is no room for emotions in data collection!
YOU CAN LEARN A GREAT DEAL ABOUT YOUR EATING PATTERNS:
You can gather information about how your body is responding to the foods you eat and possibly what is lacking in your diet. Do you tend to eat too much of one particular type of food? Do you need to open up the spectrum to ensure that you are taking in more of a variety of vitamins and minerals? Do you need to consume more fats and less carbs or do you do need more carbs? Are you taking in enough healthy fats that contain Omega 3s versus fats that are not as beneficial? What types of carbohydrates are you taking in? How much starchy carbs versus fibrous carbs? Do you tend to eat light earlier in the day and much more at night? When do you take in the larger portion of your calories and is that serving your activity levels during the day and/or your sleep at night?
YOU CAN MONITOR CRAVINGS OR FIGURE OUT WHAT TRIGGERS THEM:
Are you finding that you are drawn to eat certain foods at certain times of day because you are having cravings for them? What did you eat leading up to those cravings? Perhaps the cravings are related to your activity levels and/or your previous meals or drinks earlier in your day? Could you shift what you are taking in in the earlier part of the day before those cravings kick in and maybe eliminate the cravings altogether?
YOU CAN FIND YOUR CURRENT CALORIC SET POINT:
You can learn about how your metabolism is functioning by tracking how many calories your body is accustomed to (your current set point) to stay the way it is. If getting lean and losing fat is your goal, this is great data to collect to find out if you really need to create a caloric deficit or not. If you have been on some strict diets over the years or have been over exercising and under eating, you might need to start tracking so you know how to start changing (adding) calories slowly and strategically while still staying lean. Are you eating less than your estimated BMR (basal metabolic rate) in order to just stay the same and not gain? You can find out whether you truly are over eating or perhaps you could be under eating. If you have been under eating (less than your estimated BMR- Basal Metabolic Rate for your body weight) then you might need to reverse diet (add in 10-15% more calories) for a couple of days out of your week on your workout days for a few weeks so that your body can begin to regulate at a higher caloric consumption. You might find that this was the trick you needed in order to drop some body fat. If you are looking to build muscle or strength and progress has stalled in that area as well, keeping a food journal might reveal that you are not taking in enough protein or carbs (or both) and you can make a few adjustments and begin to see some gains in the gym.
Regardless of your goals, it is a great idea to track your nutrition every now and then to check in. Start simple by writing down what you eat (remember, no judgement) for three days during the week and at least one of the weekend days. Be truthful and don’t leave anything out, it’s only a food journal and no one is going to see it except for you. Write notes each day if you see that your emotions were running high and it affected your eating. Think about the “whys” of what you ate. Were you pressed for time and ate real fast? Write that down. Every thing will be helpful in giving you feedback. Stay focused on the fact that it is serving you as data, feedback, information and not to make it mean anything else in your mind. If you decide to do it, good luck! Write to me and let me know what you learned from it and how it served you.