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To Track, Or Not to Track

Okay, so the title is somewhat misleading. Because if you are focussing on your nutrition, i.e. knowing what you are putting in your mouth, then you are tracking.

Tracking simply means knowing what you are eating at each meal and snack. But of course when most of us think ‘tracking’ these days we think of detailed macronutrient tracking.

So, should you track your macros or not?

Let’s consider the options. The different ways of ‘tracking’ can be broadly split into:

  1. Detailed counting of macronutrients at each meal, using an online food tracking application such as MyFitnessPal, or excel

  2. Following general principles and portion sizes at each meal and either keeping a written record or keeping no record

There are pros and cons to each approach:

Detailed tracking enables you to more precisely follow your nutrition plan. This may be important if you have specific performance or time limited goals, or different intakes on different days depending on training schedule etc. The drawback is that detailed tracking can be time consuming and may increase anxiety around food intake.

Following general principles may be more appropriate if your goals are more flexible or simply health focussed and / or if you do not want to spend time weighing, measuring and recording food intake. The drawback is that you are likely to be less precise in your nutrient intake and so it may take longer to reach specific performance or aesthetic goals.

You need to consider which approach is right for you. You could start with detailed tracking to learn what portion sizes look like for you, and then transition to a less rigid approach when you have built knowledge and experience. If you are an athlete with differing macronutrient intakes each day, then knowing what you need to take in at each meal may be more important … to save time you could build a common base diet for each day and then ‘top it up’ with additional carbs, fats or protein as needed.

Think what works for you, now! And remember, you can always switch approach in the future if the alternative approach better fits with your lifestyle, goals and nutrition at that point in time!!

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