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I am a big believer in tracking your food intake. I think it not only helps open your eyes to the calories in the foods we consume, but it gives you a better idea of realistic portion sizes. It also helps hold you accountable for the food choices you make. I’ll admit that tracking your food is a lot of work, but when done correctly it will pay off. If you’re taking the time out of your day to track your food, then you want to make sure that you are doing it correctly. So here are 7 mistakes you’re making when tracking your food that are hurting your weight loss:
1. You Aren’t Measuring Portions
This is rule number one when tracking your food (and especially your macros!). The only way to ensure accurate food tracking, you have to measure your food. And yes, this means getting a digital food scale. You might think you can get away with using measuring cup and spoons, but you’ll quickly realize how much of a hassle this is. Plus there is way more room for error this way. A food scale makes weighing your food a breeze! Trust me on this one. Any digital food scale will work.
Try this – Look for a scale that can switch to different units (especially ounces and grams), plus one that can “zero/tare”. I personally love this food scale HERE.
2. You Aren’t Logging Condiments
At first a little dab of ketchup for your fries might not seem like something worth tracking. But if you’re having ketchup with your fries, and then mayo and oil on your sandwich, the calories add up fast!
I’m a little more lenient when it comes to tracking condiments, but it’s still a necessary step. If i’m dipping my fries in ketchup, I will typically just estimate that I had 1-2 tbsp of ketchup. However if it’s something that is more calorically dense, like mayo, ranch, oil, etc, then I recommend measuring it when possible. If you’re out at a restaurant, again you can eyeball it. But if you’re at home, then take the extra minute to weigh it.
Pro tip – when measuring your portion for condiments, here is what I do: place the jar of mayo on the food scale and “zero” it. Then scoop out your portion and place it on your plate/sandwich. The scale will say something like “-10g”. Ignore the negative sign, and simply log it as 10g of mayo. I find this to be so much easier than trying to place your plate on the scale and add mayo to it. I do this with my peanut butter toast every morning!
3. You Aren’t Logging Everything
Just like you might not be logging condiments, you might be forgetting other things as well. What about those 3 hershey kisses you ate at your desk? That’s 66 calories right there (and about 8g of carbs and 4g of fat). Or what about those last few bites of your child’s sandwich that they didn’t finish?
While at first these things might seem so innocent, the calories can really start to add up. So as a rule of thumb: if you eat it, track it.
4. You Aren’t Logging the Exact Food
This is a really common thing I see people struggle with. If you want to be 100% accurate, then you need to log the exact food that you are eating. So if you are having a tuna sandwich, you need to log the sandwich that you’re having, not just the first one you see in the search results.
For example, I just did a quick search of “tuna salad sandwich” on MyFitnessPal and came up with hundreds of results. Here are the first four results: 268 calories, 267 calories, 460 calories, and 660 calories. So which one do you pick?
Well if you ordered the sandwich from Panera, then you can add that to the search bar and realize that their tuna salad sandwich is 660 calories. Easy!
However if you are making it at home, then it’s just as easy. You would log the brand of tuna salad you used, and weigh the portion. Yu’od like the exact bread you used, and then you’d log any condiments added. Just as easy!
5. You Aren’t Logging Liquid Calories
This goes back to my general rule of thumb: if you eat it, track it! You don’t need to log zero calorie drinks like black coffee or diet soda. But think about all of the other things you drink.
So if you have juice in the morning, log it! If you have a sweetened iced tea at lunch, log it! And especially if you have wine with dinner, log it!
Also think about how calories can sneak into your drinks. For example, black coffee might be zero calories, but that cream and sugar you add does! So again, measure and track everything!
6. You Estimate Low
This goes back to point number 1 above. You need to measure and track everything! I see a lot of people who estimate their food intake low when they are unsure of the exact portion. So if you’re trying to log french fries and you aren’t sure how many ounces you had, estimate a little high. So many people estimate low to save on calories, but it only ends up hurting you in the long run.
7. You Log Your Food After you Eat It
This isn’t necessarily a mistake, but it’s something I consider a “rookie move”. I’m sure we’ve all been here before. We just ate dinner and now we are logging it into our food diary just to find out that we went way over our fat goal and are still under our protein goal by 50g. Oops! The best way to prevent this from happening is by logging your food before you eat it. This way you have a better idea of what kind of portion to serve yourself that best fits your calorie/macro goals.
Related post – How to Easily Hit your Macros Everyday
The Next Steps…
If you’re following the 7 steps above but still aren’t seeing results, then it might be time to get some help! My Macro Magic e-course is a 14 day program that will help you become a macro tracking pro in just two weeks! If you’re putting in all of the work to track your food, then you should be seeing results. So let me help you get those results you’ve been working so hard for!