Hidden Calories & The Importance of Accurate Tracking

Don’t forget to track.

Food tracking can feel like a bit of a pain. Sure, it can be repetitive and there’s a natural tendency to skip over the fine detail; overlooking some of the smaller items that we consume on a daily basis.

However, when done accurately, it doesn’t need to be continued for too long. All we’re looking for are patterns of behaviour and eating that don’t serve us well.

Once we gain this knowledge and can adjust accordingly, we can soon build new positive patterns and routines that lead to an effortless relationship with food; one that gives us a sense of intuition about what our body needs.

Intuitive eating:

Nowadays, I rarely track. If I want to shed fat, or if I’m prepping for a particular physical challenge, I adjust my intake accordingly. I may vary my protein intake, or I might reduce/increase the amount of fats and carbohydrates I consume.

This ability comes with practice.

Occasionally I’ll track what I’m eating in order to confirm what my body and feelings are telling me. I find it fascinating. And of-course, from a coaching point of view, it’s essential feedback and knowledge that can subsequently be passed on.

One thing my early days of tracking taught me was that it’s absolutely essential to count everything!

What if your morning routine includes a cappuccino with chocolate sprinkles from the coffee shop? It’s only a coffee, right?

It’s only a Coffee?

Well, not really. It’s not uncommon for us to slurp down an easy 300 cals plus, from a coffee shop concoction.

Or what about, if you have a spoon of sugar in your tea? But, you have 6 cups a day. Can you see how this is going to add up?

Stealth Calories can catch you Unawares:

Stealth calories are those that you fail to account for. You don’t notice or register that they’re a part of your intake. But, wow do they add up!

And I’m not immune to such sneaky buggers either.

Some time ago, I found that my weight was creeping up slightly. Not a massive problem as I don’t stress over the scales. But I was keen to know what was going on as I could tell there was a change in my body.

So, I tracked my intake and found that, on paper, nothing had really changed. I was confused!

Frustration soon set in, and I found myself one afternoon, contemplating where I was going wrong. As I sat there with my cup off coffee and nibbled on a healthy piece of hard cheese; it struck me.

Coffee & Cheese! Not the actual coffee, but the cream I was adding to it, and the fact that I’d developed a habit of cutting a couple of slices of cheese to consume with my brew.

Neither the cream or the cheese was bad for me, and perfectly acceptable in moderation. The problem was: I hadn’t noticed that my little habit had formed, or that I was suddenly drinking a lot more coffee than I had previously.

I began totting-up the calories that I’d been neglecting to count, and found that I was on an extra 400 per day than I’d assumed. No wonder I was putting on weight!

Blowing a deficit:

To lose body-fat, we typically employ the use of a caloric-deficit. There are often nuances to this, and factors that affect how much is appropriate and for how long. But essentially, this is the nuts-n-bolts of it all.

My cream and cheese habit had accidentally put me in a caloric surplus, that over a period of weeks, resulted in weight-gain.

Now, imagine the effect that would have had on someone who was seriously aiming to shed body-fat. They’d be under the assumption that they were in caloric-deficit. Yet, through inaccurate tracking were actually at a number of calories that maintained their current weight; or worse still, resulted in unwanted gain.

Obsessive Behaviour:

When a deficit no longer works – and again there are numerous reasons why this can happen – there is a tendency to reduce calories further.

How much is enough?

When the small things are not being accurately tracked, the more obvious food choices are impacted. Thus, people often reduce their intake from their main meals, while continuing to snack. This can result in a nutrient deficiency.

An incorrect perception that a deficit isn’t working can develop into an unhealthy obsession with food and calorie-counting; which is very different from the type of strategic tracking I’m talking about.

Short-term Diligence, Long-term Success:

Being really diligent with your tracking will provide the shortest route to getting the results you want.

It provides a wealth of information; ensuring you don’t neglect quality nutrient-dense food in favour of easily available, highly processed snacks.

It may feel like a chore for a little while, but I promise you, it’s well worth making the effort and you WILL certainly reap the benefits!

Just think: by learning how your body is affected by what you eat, you gain an enormous amount of control over body-composition, energy levels and overall health.

Read more:

How to Avoid Cheating on your Diet: Strategic Re-feeds

When Fat-Loss Stalls: Try Eating More

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