The onset of a new year almost always begins with resolutions about weight, health, and fitness. The need for some smart changes rarely seems timelier than after the excesses of the holidays. Setting some healthy goals is a great way to start fresh.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to lose or gain weight, increase muscle mass or tone, improve strength, or prevent chronic disease. Everything begins with what you consume. If you’re hoping for positive outcomes in any of these categories, you must track what you eat. Here are three reasons why.
1. Nutrients Are More Important Than Just Calories
Calories are, of course, key to achieving weight goals. In general, you have to eat fewer calories than you burn to lose weight, eat more than you burn to gain it, and balance the two to maintain it. But which calories you’re consuming is vastly more important than calorie count alone.
Carbs, fats, and proteins are macronutrients. They provide you with energy, keep your body’s systems operational, and give your bones and muscles strength. Sure, they all have numbers of calories assigned to them. But how much of which ones are required varies from person to person.
First, you need to know how much of each type of macronutrient you should consume daily to meet your personal goals. This will differ based on gender, height, weight, activity level, and an assortment of other factors. Once you know how many of each macro should comprise your diet, it will be important to track them to ensure you’re following the plan.
You can do the math, or you can let an app do the work for you. The best macro tracking app will not only help you set a baseline, but it will also adjust as needed. That means it will modify recommendations based on what you report eating, not on what you were supposed to. You can check out MacroFactorApp.com to learn more about how that works.
Merely monitoring calories in, calories out isn’t enough. Tracking the types of calories you’re consuming is the only way you’ll know whether you’re eating the right foods to achieve your goals.
2. What You Eat Fights — or Fosters — Chronic Disease
Have you ever eaten something that didn’t seem to agree with you? Maybe you’ve suffered from abdominal pain, bloating, rashes, constipation, fatigue, nausea, or other symptoms after consuming certain things. If you experience such a reaction to the same food type more than once, you should heed the signs.
The chemistry of your body is in control here. If you can’t process glucose correctly, you may suffer from diabetes. If your body can’t tolerate gluten, you may have celiac disease. Consuming an overabundance of macronutrients like carbs and saturated fats increases blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
If you are borderline for development of chronic disease, tracking what you eat could keep you on the right side of the line. For example, say your recent A1C test results indicate that you have prediabetes. According to HopkinsMedicine.org, the first line of defense is changing your diet. Taking such steps as avoiding processed foods, refined grains, and saturated fats can keep you from developing Type 2 diabetes.
If heredity puts you at greater risk of developing a medical condition, such as obesity or heart disease, what you eat is vital. And if you’re already suffering from chronic and inflammatory diseases or disorders, not eating as recommended by your doctor can have deadly results.
Research is increasingly unveiling not only how nutrition is linked to disease, but how it can alter the course of it. Careful tracking of what you consume can be a lifesaver.
3. You Need to Hold Yourself Accountable
There’s more than one study out there suggesting that telling someone else about your goals will help you accomplish them. There’s something about uttering your intentions out loud or writing them down and sharing them that keeps you focused and accountable. But there’s something else you should do to improve your chances of reaching your goals: tracking your progress.
According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, monitoring progress in pursuit of an objective leads to even greater success. Keeping track of what you’re eating will propel you toward achieving your health-related goals.
Losing or gaining weight, building muscle or tone, or reducing your risk of chronic disease doesn’t happen overnight. Any of these take a concerted effort on your part to change habits. Naturally, old habits and behaviors can feel like a broken-in pair of shoes. That makes it tough to replace them with stiff, new ones, even when you know you should.
Tracking your results will also give you the evidence you need to determine whether your plan is actually working or not. If you stick to your strategy but fail to make progress, you’ll know it’s the plan — not you — that’s at fault. If that’s the case, you’ll have to revise your formula and continue monitoring it to see whether you’ve made the proper adjustments.
A macro tracking app or food journal offers proof of the healthy habits you’re developing. On the flip side, they will also point out where you’re failing. In either case, this evidence helps keep you on course or get you back on course.
On Track to Succeed
Regardless of the particular fitness objectives you’re striving for, you need to consume the right nutrients to realize them. You can’t build muscle without enough protein, for example, or support brain and gut function without healthy fats. That’s why tracking what you eat is critical to your health and wellness journey, so make it your own recipe for success.