Like it or not, we live in an age of metrics. Numbers surround and define us. But that’s not a bad thing, it actually helps us!
– Parents and students track and measure success by considering GPA and SAT scores.
– We determine where we want to live sometimes based on crime statistics, school scores, and cost of living.
– Businesses measure success by looking at Profit & Loss statements, ROI, gross margin, ad costs, and customer lifetime value.
– We track when it’s time for an oil change by the number of miles we’ve driven or the date we last went to the mechanic.
– We debate the success of a sport’s franchise by the number of wins, losses, and metrics of their best players.
– And most track their budgets, whether they need to save more for college, how much to spend on groceries and gas, and the amount we need to pay rent.
So considering the importance of nutrition on our daily lives and health, isn’t it odd that we resist tracking metrics of our own bodies or what we put in them?
The most amazing thing, though, is that once someone gets over the psychological hurdle that tracking their food is “work”, they see outstanding success in getting to their overall goal. The secret to fat loss or building muscle is hidden within the ability to track not only what food you eat, but the composition of that food.
However, getting a jumpstart on this can take time. It did for me! I thought working out was all I needed to do, and while that helped for awhile, it didn’t get me all the way there in my journey. Sometimes, to get to that point, you need to take baby steps.
Here’s 6 Steps to Upgrading Your Eating Plan
Step 1: Look at Your Nutrient Intake
We don’t often realize what we’re eating, or how much of it we consume, until we stop and actually think about it. In fact, we’re terrible at being honest with our food!
Take a moment and list out the last 5-7 complete meals you’ve eaten. How much fast food did you consume? How many snacks and sodas? Are you eating more fast food, snacks, and liquid calories than you are eating whole food meals at home?
And by whole food, I mean meals that have good sources of protein (lean chicken, beef, or fish), carbohydrates (like potatoes and veggies), and good fats (avocados or nuts)?
Life is often about balance, and if you can see that you’re eating out more than you’re cooking at home, that might show that you have an imbalance in nutrients. Not only are you probably consuming more unhealthy fats and starches than you need to be, but you’re also losing vast amounts of money at those restaurants.
Instead of cutting out all fast food or your favorite foods, consider just limiting them to the weekends. You can improve your overall food quality and consumption with just this simple fix!
Step 2: List Your Top Offenders
Do this while creating your grocery list, so you can knock out two things at once!
Next to each fast food meal or snack, list a whole food or comparable complete meal that you can replace it with during the week. This will cause you to adjust your diet slightly, but will help you start to build habits in a small way.
You can also swap out the fast food options for home-cooked options. For instance, swap frozen fries for home-baked potato wedges.
For an even easier option, you can take photos of meals you’re about to eat. Research shows that simply taking a picture of something before you eat it will cause you to momentarily re-think your decision to consume it.
You can also save a picture of someone that is where you want to be in the future (a bikini model or a muscle stud on Instagram), and right before you eat something, look at their picture. Will that meal help you get closer to how they look, or will it hold you back? Is it something they would eat?
Step 3: Plan For Just A Month
Tracking your food for just a month could turn into a game for yourself. Numbers show you where improvements can be made and help solidify good habits. Research has also show that tracking food can be “gamified” (made into a game) and addicting over time.
Sometimes, telling someone they need to track their food makes them freak out. Maybe they don’t like math, numbers, or the burden of an extra step in their food process. But tracking doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. And you don’t necessarily need to track your macros for a month (even though I recommend it!). You can simply track the meals you eat everyday.
You won’t get the benefit of knowing exactly how many calories, or how many macros, you’re consuming on a daily basis. But it can track the quality of your meals overtime and begin the process of building that tracking habit.
Want to take the next step and track your macros and calories? I’ve got you covered! Here’s 7 Essential Steps To Start Macro Tracking Right Now
Step 4: Find Your Whey
Since Protein is the number one macronutrient that keeps you full longer, not only can it overpower your food cravings, but it can help you build or keep the muscles you already have.
All diets have the potential of decreasing your overall muscle mass due to the elimination of calories. Since the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, it is essential that you at least keep all the current muscle you have in order to burn more of those calories every day.
You should attempt to eat your bodyweight in grams of protein. For instance, if you’re a male that weights 180 pounds, you should be eating 180 grams of protein per day. You can do this through lean protein sources such as chicken and fish, or through supplementation via whey protein.
Step 5: Load Up On Green Energy
You might’ve hated vegetables as a child, I know I did. But once we became adults, we realized that they are necessary to get the vitamins we need. I’m not saying that you have to become a vegetarian, but you should have at least one serving of vegetables a day with one meal to get started.
Now, if you absolutely hate them, the best way to get them in without supplementation (which isn’t the best option) is to create a shake.
Put your veggies in a blender, mix some fruit likes bananas and berries into them, and drink your serving of vegetables every day! If you’re feeling sleepy, lack of energy, or moody during the week, a major culprit can be a diet that lacks the vitamins that fruit and vegetables provide.
Step 6: Get More Vitamin D
Vitamin D is involved in calcium absorption, immune function, and protecting bone, muscle, and heart health among other things. If you want to protect yourself against sickness and physical ailments, then you need to prioritize Vitamin D Supplementation.
Vitamin D can also improve your mood, improve depression, and give you a better outlook on life.
Not only does this help everyone around you, but things you didn’t want to do before (like exercise or track your food) will now be looked at in a more positive light with your improved mindset. Don’t discount this! Getting some extra sun and Vitamin D supplements can dramatically improve your outlook on life!
Here’s a infographic of the above steps! Simply copy and save it!
Need help with any of this?
If you want a certified nutrition coach to help you step-by-step through this process and guide you the entire way, I’m your guy! Let’s talk about how you can lose an inch of your waist (or more) or lose your first, next, or last 10 pounds! View my Nutrition Coaching Plans to see what it’s all about!