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Calorie counting is one of the best ways to manage your food intake to help you lose weight.
But, one of the biggest problems with calorie tracking apps like My Fitness Pal are the amount of inaccuracies that can occur.
Today I want to share some quick tips to improve your food tracking accuracy which will help you be more consistent and lead to better results.
#1 Use brand names
One of the simplest ways to ensure accuracy when logging your food is to utilize the brand name of the food you’re eating.
Many of the foods you eat will have a brand name, which is usually recognized in apps like My Fitness Pal.
A common breakfast staple is oatmeal. Simply type in the brand name and you’ll likely find the correct option:
In this case, you’d pick Quaker quick oats and use that entry. You can then easily adjust the serving size depending on the amount you’re eating. Using brand names will save you a lot of time and will lead to better logging consistency.
#2 Foods without labels
For some foods, you’ll need to enter ingredients separately. If you’re having something like lasagna and making it yourself, you can’t just type in lasagna because you’ll get a wide variety of options.
For foods like this, just enter in the individual ingredients. Be sure to save that entry so that you can use the same entry if you tend to eat meals like that often. All you need to do is enter in all of the ingredients and then do your best to divide the portions based on the total in the entire meal. This will give you a pretty good idea of how many calories are in each serving.
#3 Pay attention to search results
When logging your food it’s very important to select the option that most closely represents what you’re eating.
If you’re having chicken breast and then entry comes up showing very little protein you might not have the correct entry. Just make sure that the foods you’re entering in match as close as possible to ensure the best accuracy.
For example, one of my online coaching clients logged her breakfast the other day. Part of that breakfast was oatmeal and this is what My Fitness Pal logged:
This is a good learning lesson and one reason you have to be aware of what you’re logging in. This shows 0 carbs, 0 fat, 0 protein. If that were true then it would contain 0 calories as well. However, it shows 270 calories. We know oats are a primary carb source so there should be a number in the carb column.
Make sure that what you’re entering in matches what you’d expect the food or foods to be. It’s very easy to pick the first option that pops up but it’s also important to choose the best option that matches what you’re eating.
This will make your entries much more accurate which will lead to better fat loss results.
#4 Don’t forget condiments, beverages, and oils
Sometimes it’s the foods we don’t think about that’ll sneakily add excess calories. If you’re adding oil or calorie containing condiments to your foods then be sure to factor those in.
If you don’t, you may be under-reporting 200-300 calories per day which will certainly affect your overall calorie balance. Also, you need to include any beverages that contain calories as well such as milk, sodas, smoothies etc.
#5 Make your best guesstimate
Counting calories isn’t meant to take up hours of your day. It’s simply a way to ensure you’re consuming the right amount of calories for your goal.
Sometimes, you may just need to use your best guess when logging certain foods. As long as you’re consistent with the options you’re choosing, you’ll still be able to make progress.
These apps aren’t perfect, and they certainly won’t always show the best option up front. Use your nutritional knowledge to assess whether or not the entry you’re including is the best option for that particular food.
Better tracking, better progress
If your progress has stalled, or it’s not moving as quickly as you’d like, give these tips a shot.
I think once you improve the accuracy of your calorie tracking you’ll notice a big improvement in your results.
Give em a try and let me know what you think.