7 Mistakes People Make When Tracking Their Food

7 Mistakes People Make When Tracking Their Food October 10, 2019Leave a comment

‘I’m only eating 800 calories but I’m not losing weight!’

‘I’ve tracked everything so I must be in starvation mode or somin’!’

‘I hate my parents for giving me terrible genetics.’

You may have uttered, or heard, these words before.

While the idea of consuming an incredibly low-calorie diet and not losing weight may sound as if the weight loss Gods have laid an irreversible curse upon you, unfortunately, it probably just isn’t true.

The real reason you believe you’re only consuming 800 calories a day and not losing weight?

Because you’re not tracking your food correctly.

And here are seven mystical and magical traps people find themselves wedged in when they believe they’re diligently tracking their food and for some unearthly reason not losing weight.

1. You’re Guessing

We’ll start with an easy one.

You’re guessing.

‘That bowl of Coco Pops looks about 50 grams.’

‘That chicken breast probably weighs about 100 grams.’

‘That gargantuan handful of popcorn I just scooped up was probably only about three pieces I reckon.’

No matter how clever or how good at weighing things with the trickery of your brain you believe you are, you’re just not that good at guessing not only the weight and size of food portions but also their calorie content.

It’s been shown on numerous occasions that people suck at reporting their calorie intake; namely because most of the time they’re guessing.

Let’s say Person A reports she has, on average, 1400 calories per day.

If we assume she’s underreported by 30%, that’s an extra 420 calories per day she could have consumed. Over a week that’s the potential of an extra 2940 calories she’s not accounted for.

It’s time to get serious with your portion size and stop guessing.

Not only is the weight and serving sizes listed on packages often inaccurate, but, as we’ve established, you suck at calculating calorie content in your head.

Weighing your food will not only provide you with exact data but help you improve your eyesight should you have to enter food without weighing it.

2. You’re Entering Generic Things

It’s Sunday. You’ve had a nice lie-in. And you fancy making some protein pancakes. You do. And they were delicious.

You hop into myfitnesspal and type in protein pancakes. Excellent, they have that option.

Only, what the hell is a ‘homemade’ protein pancake? Does it contain the oil you used to cook them in? Does it know all the ingredients you used? Does it contain the Nutella you smothered yours in? Does it even look as good on Instagram as yours?

You just don’t know.

It’s time to get detailed and enter everything.

By ensuring you enter every single ingredient you use you know you’re not heading down a food tracking rabbit hole.

This also applies to other generic items such as ‘medium apples’, a ‘cup of rice’, and a ‘large biscuit’.

Your medium might be different from my medium which might be different from my mum’s medium.

Avoid the generic entries and input the weight and size as accurately as possible.

3. Weekend? What Weekend?

Everything seems to go out the window at the weekend. The time you wake up, the breakfast you usually have, the snacks you usually have, and the routine you strictly adhere to Monday to Friday.

It’s all a bit of a shambles.

Most importantly, you forget to track your food.

‘Ah, a day or two won’t matter,’ you tell yourself. Except it does. It really does.

I’ve talked about how the weekends can damage a week’s worth of progress without you realising it before, and there’s no exception here.

If you’re not tracking your food as diligently as you are midweek, you’re missing out on being aware of a cornucopia of calories being shoved down your throat from Friday night to Sunday evening.

I’d go as far as to say that tracking your weekends matters more.

All those drinks, snacks, meals out all add up, and if you’re not making somewhat of an effort to log what you’re consuming, you’re going to fall into the trap of thinking you’re not eating anything and somehow not losing weight.

4. You’re Not Entering The Details

The details matter. A lot.

Everything contains calories. And while that extra dab of olive oil you use for your stir-fry or extra scoop of ketchup you have with your chips may not appear to matter; it does.

Let’s say you forget just one small component of each meal and snack you consume throughout the day. It won’t matter, right?

Just a mere 50 calories missed with each meal will quickly add up and can add an extra 300 calories onto what you believe you’re consuming.

That 1200 calories you think you’re having is actually closer to 1500.

5. You’re Forgetting

You’ve had a long day at work. The kids are wreaking havoc at home. The cat’s been sick on the carpet. And you’ve still got to track your food.

You sit down and attempt to log everything you’ve consumed for the day.

What you think you consumed is probably quite far from what you actually had, however.

Humans forget. We forget birthdays, anniversaries, and what we put in our mouths a mere few hours ago.

And while you swear to the fat loss gods you’re tracking accurately, if you’re not inputting things before, or at least as the day goes on, you’re going to let things slip your mind.

The trick is to input what you have ahead of time. Not only will this enable you to remember exactly what you stuffed down your mouth but will enable you to see how many calories you’re about to consume.

Should you find yourself about to gorge on an 800-calorie muffin and you realise you’ve only got 900 calories left for the day, you might take a second look at what you’re about to do.

6. You Weigh Your Food Cooked And Input It Raw (Or Vice Versa)

Ever noticed the difference in calorie content between a piece of meat or fish cooked compared to when it was raw? No? Now you will.

Changes in the fluid content of foods can have a big impact on the calorie and macronutrient content of a serving.

When cooking meat and fish, fluids leak out, meaning they are lighter after cooking. In contrast, starchy carbohydrates like rice and pasta absorb water during the cooking process.

The table above shows how 100g of uncooked chicken breast contains fewer calories and less protein than an equivalent serving of cooked chicken breast, whereas the reverse is true for the calorie and carbohydrate content of cooked and uncooked basmati rice.

When selecting between the cooked and uncooked method, it is important to consider:

  • Nearly all nutrition labels now use the uncooked method
  • How long you cook foods for will vary slightly each time and affect the cooked weight
  • Weighing individual components of mixed meals
  • It is a lot easier for certain cooked foods to get ‘lost’ on the way to the food scale and end up in your mouth

As a result, it is worth weighing foods before cooking and calculating serving sizes based on uncooked nutrition values.

If you don’t, just make sure the food you are inputting is correlated to whether you weighed it raw or cooked.

7. You Choose The Low-Calorie Option

You’ve had a pizza for lunch and decide that, despite not wanting to make your PT cry, you should probably enter the details into your food diary.

Holy crap, you realise it was 800 calories.

You scroll down and find a similar one for 550. Phew, you think. That will do.

Can you see what you just did?

Choosing the low-calorie option doesn’t mean those extra calories you actually consumed don’t exist.

It’s always better to err on the side of caution and choose the option with the greater number of calories as a) that’s probably the amount it actually was and b) you’d rather have assumed you had more than less.



This Article Was Too Long And I Didn’t Read It; Can You Summarise It Please

The real reason you believe you’re only consuming 800 calories a day and not losing weight? Because you’re not tracking your food correctly.

You’re Guessing – Not only is the weight on packages often inaccurate but as we’ve established you suck at calculating calorie content in your head.

Weighing your food will not only provide you with exact data but help you improve your eyesight should you have to enter food without weighing it.

You’re Entering Generic Things – By ensuring you enter every single ingredient you use you know you’re not heading down a food tracking rabbit hole.

This also applies to other generic items such as ‘medium apples’, a ‘cup of rice’, and a ‘large biscuit’.

Weekend? What Weekend? – If you’re not tracking your food as diligently as you are midweek, you’re missing out on being aware of a cornucopia of calories being consumed.

All those drinks, snacks, meals out all add up, and if you’re not making somewhat of an effort to log what you’re consuming, you’re going to fall into the trap of thinking you’re not eating anything and somehow not losing weight.

You’re Not Entering The Details  – Everything contains calories. And while that extra dab of olive oil you use for your stir-fry or extra scoop of ketchup you have with your chips may not appear to matter; it does.

Just a mere 50 calories missed with each meal will quickly add up and can add an extra 300 calories onto what you believe you’re consuming.

You’re Forgetting – While you swear to the fat loss gods you’re tracking accurately, if you’re not inputting things before, or at least as the day goes on, you’re going to let things slip your mind.

The trick is to input what you have ahead of time. Not only will this enable you to remember exactly what you stuffed down your mouth but will enable you to see how many calories you’re about to consume.

You Weigh Your Food Cooked And Input It Raw (Or Vice Versa) – Changes in the fluid content of foods can have a big impact on the calorie and macronutrient content of a serving.

As a result, it is worth weighing foods before cooking and calculating serving sizes based on uncooked nutrition values.

You Choose The Low-Calorie Option – Choosing the low-calorie option doesn’t mean those extra calories you actually consumed don’t exist.

It’s always better to err on the side of caution and choose the option with the greater number of calories as a) that’s probably the amount it actually was and b) you’d rather have assumed you had more than less.

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