Most of you I’m sure have heard of “MyFitnessPal”. It’s an amazing macro tracker app that helps you reach your goals, instead of guessing what you’re eating throughout your day. Before you read any further if you need more help with learning about macros I recommended you read “Understanding Macros” to get familiar with macro intake, how much men and women need per day etc. There’s A LOT to learn, so start there then come back and read how to use this app to reach any goal you may have!
In order to track meals I suggest you buy a food scale first! You can’t estimate how much you’re eating all day! If you would love to learn tips and tricks to meal prepping read 10 Tips On How To Successfully Meal Prep.
What are macros?
Macronutrients are what make up the calorie content of food. The 3 categories of macros are your protein, carbs, and fats. To reach your goals in an effective way it’s great to track how much protein, carbs and fats you’re eating every day! Every person needs a different amount. I do have a macro calculator that’s provided in my post here. “Understanding Macros”. Every calculator you find isn’t 100% correct, it’s just a rough estimate that will help you along the way.
Why is it important to track?
I believe you don’t need to track your food intake for the rest of your life, however I do recommend trying it and sticking with it for at least a couple of months. I think it’s important for us to get familiar with what we put into our bodies and exactly how much. Our body may only need 70 grams of fat per day, but you may be eating 110 grams or over, and that’s how you gain body fat. It can also be difficult to lose weight because you’re eating more fat or carbs then you really need. I don’t believe in cutting out any carbs or fats because we’re human and we need good fats and good carbs, and of course some treats here and there because LIFE! I know that since I started tracking my food intake, I’ve become more familiar and understand what it’s like to live a balanced lifestyle. It taught me I can have a slice of cake and eat it too, but to not go ham for the rest of the day. I really do truly believe it turned me into having a better relationship with food.
I haven’t tracked my food since COVID started happening. So it’s been 5 months. I’m sure I’ll get back to it again, but I promise you, you will see more results doing this just because you will be more on point with how much protein, carbs and fat you eat in a day. It’s not a lot of work if you start meal prepping ahead of time, that way your week is easy for you. Just grab and go with your meals that are already prepped and tracked!
Setting up My Fitness Pal
- 1. Download the app for free. You can upgrade and get more perks but free does the job.
- 2. Open the app and make an account or login from Facebook or email.
- 3. The app will ask you some questions before getting started. Goals, weight, age, etc. Enter everything to the best of your ability.
- 4. When you estimate your macros and get the numbers, add them directly into the app. Head to more > nutrition goals > calorie, carbs, protein, and fat goals. Here is where you will enter them manually with the percentages given. Just keep in mind that you will have to round to the nearest 5% increment unless you download the premium version. So your macros most likely won’t be correct 100%, so just make sure you memorize them and keep track that way. You will either have to eat more or less than what’s stated on the app, but no biggy!
- 5. You have the option of naming your meals. So the way it’s set up, is “Breakfast”, “lunch”, “dinner”, snacks”. You can name them differently, like meal 1, meal 2, pre and post workout snacks, ETC. For someone like me who is always trying to put on weight, breakfast, lunch, and dinner don’t really mean anything because I’m constantly eating, so I go off of meal 1 and so forth. Head to more > settings > diary settings > custom meal name.
- 6. Get familiar with the app and click around. You have the option of tracking your steps and water intake. Figure out how you like it and make it personal.
How To Start Tracking
Alright time to get tracking!
1. Click on the diary button at the bottom of the page! You will notice it will be organized with your saved settings. Woohoo, time for the fun part.
2. Click which meal you’re having and hit “add food” .
3. You can search for foods, scan them with products that have a barcode, or manually enter the code if the scanner doesn’t work.
3. Adjust the serving sizes. You have a couple different options like grams, ounces, 1 cup. etc. They sometimes will be different on each product. Most will have serving size per gram, but sometimes it won’t be there.
4. Complete the diary at the bottom when the day is done.This automatically saves your meal for the day, so you can go back and see what you ate on a particular day.
– My Fitness Pal remembers foods you eat often, so you won’t have to scan in every single food item you eat on the daily because it will be entered already. You can adjust the serving size no problem if you eat less or more one day.
– Make sure when adding in stuff like pasta or rice, make sure it’s cooked and not dry. Serving sizes at the back of the product your scanning will usually have whether the serving size is cooked or dry. You can also type it in manually in the search button aka “cooked basmati rice”.
– You can search fast foods as well and even some pubs! The app has come a long way, so they usually have everything on deck. If they don’t have something, you can either try to find the food and estimate, or not add it in as a treat meal, and forget about it.
– You can manually plug in a homemade recipe and have the macros for a certain dish. This part is time consuming because everything you put in the dish you have to weigh out and whatnot for the macros per serving of the dish, but it’s pretty neat. This way you can make clean healthy dishes at home, and know exactly what you are eating; macros and all!
Tracking Motivation And Questions You May Have:
YOU HAVE YOUR OWN PERSONAL PLAN
You have your own plan that’s built right on your device that you use EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! And it costs 0 dollars, so no excuses! You have access to your calories, macros, steps and more. You have the ability to change goals like gaining weight, maintaining etc, no problem! You want to lose weight, change the settings, you want to now bulk up for the winter? Change the settings! It’s your own personal food diary.
THE POWER OF TRACKING
Tracking your macros isn’t a diet, but it’s a way to have balance in your life, but also beware of what you’re putting into your body. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, but some people are like “Pft I only had 5 Oreo cookies”, but you plug that into your app and you see how much sugar you just ate as well with the fats, carbs and calorie intake. This app isn’t for being obsessive over what you eat, but more of like “oh sh*t, I eat a 3/4 cups of ice cream per day and I’m putting that much sugar into my body.” It’s more about knowing how much food you’re consuming, it helps with your fitness goals, and it’s great to actually know how much sugar and junk you’re consuming per day.
IT GETS EASIER, SO DON’T SWEAT IT
Do you think that tracking will take up a lot of your time? Let me just tell you, maybe for the first week or 2 it will take some time getting used to and plugging in all your foods, but once you start plugging away at the things you eat on the regular basis; everything gets recognized and saved! So you won’t have to scan stuff every day, unless it’s a new meal or new snack that you haven’t already put into the app.
PLUG YOUR TREATS FIRST THING
This is my favourite tip that I use all the time and helps me stay on track better! If you’re serious about tracking take this tip! This app isn’t about not being able to enjoy life, because believe you me, I love my ice cream and chocolate bars. I don’t have a crazy unhealthy snack or dinner every day, but when you know you might have a bowl of some delicious Ben & Jerry’s ice cream that night, plug it into your app in the morning, so you can work your way around your macros for the rest of the day. This is a great way to stay on track and know you won’t be over your macros! Yes, you’ll most likely have more sugar that day than any other, but it’s fine. It’s a treat for a reason! Same goes for a treat meal! If you know you’re ordering in food for dinner and you know what you’re having, plug it into your app! That way you just work your day around the rest of your carbs and fats to stay on track.
Sometimes when you’re with friends and family having some delicious meals off plan, that’s totally fine. Don’t sweat about not being able to track every single thing or meal when you’re with your loved ones.
YOU’LL LEARN WHAT REAL SERVING SIZES ARE
This is basically what I said about the Oreo cookies. You see on the package that the serving size is really only 2 cookies, but you end up having 3 more … You end up seeing how much fat and sugar are in those tiny cookies. Example, I just plugged that into my app now. 5 Mint Oreo cookies are 350 cal, 50 grams carbs, 17 grams fat, 0 protein (obviously) and 32.5 grams of SUGAR! Yikes! You will realize that by doing this you end up only sticking to the serving size per package if you have a sweet tooth. 2 cookies is enough for me and it should be for you too!
DON’T GET OBSESSIVE, IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN
Obviously you want to track every day to the best of your ability, but not every day is going to be perfect. There will be days you are out living life and for your last meal you couldn’t track it, that’s ok. Or there will be days you’ll be under or over your macros and that’s ok too! This journey should be fun trying to hit a certain amount of macros per day, but understand it’s NOT going to BE PERFECT!
SHOULD YOU TRACK CONDIMENTS AND SAUCES?
Look, I’m not the type of person that will weigh out ketchup and other condiments. Being mindful helps too! Ketchup does have sugar in it and if you’re a ketchup lover like myself, you need to be careful! If it’s an unhealthy pasta sauce I will try to estimate the grams. If it’s just salsa, small amount of ketchup, mustard, I will not track those. Mayo I do track loosely. Again, it’s not always perfect. Do track your oils to the best you can!
HOW DO I TRACK PASTA?
There’s no easy way of tracking pasta. You will have to weigh things separately. Jamie and I usually do simple beef pastas with some sort of a yummy tomato sauce that we just add extra flavour ourselves. We weigh out the beef on its own, cooked pasta on it’s own and then mix our own separate pasta in a bowl to mix with the sauce. I don’t track the sauce, since it’s a simple healthy sauce.
HOW DO I TRACK WHEN EATING OUT?
Like I said before it’s easy to find McDonalds, Subway etc on MFP app, sometimes you can even find a certain pub on there when you search the name, however if you CAN’T find the restaurant you’re at and you do want to track, estimating is fine. If you’re eating a chicken wrap with a side of fries, just search chicken wrap and there will be a ton of options, don’t choose the highest calorie or the lowest calorie one, choose one in between and for the fries just guess that one too! It’s better you try then not at all.
Restaurants these days do have the calories on the menu too, so that is also helpful! Try to track your booze intake too!
TRACK YOUR DRINKS TOO
I do enjoy a few sips of juice here and there, but I don’t go out of my way to buy it. Juice can have loads of sugar in them, so if you are a person who loves their juices, do track them too! Sometimes when you don’t see results in the gym, it may because you’re sugar intake is too high!
Track your booze too! There’s nothing wrong with taking a day off to enjoy life because we all know I preach about balance, but if you’re a person who drinks every single day, you may want to see how much your calories add up by every drink you have.
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
For someone who wants to see any type of results you need to be honest when you plug things into your app. For your treat meal, if you have more than you should and you know you’ve overdone it, still track it, but next day it’s back to the grind! You won’t see results if you half a$$ your tracking! Either you’re in it for bigger results, or not!
I hope you guys found this helpful! If you have any questions, I’d love to help to the best of my ability! If you’re serious about losing weight or gaining muscle mass this is a great place to start with tracking your food! I’ve only stopped tracking for now, because I’m just living life during COVID and just maintaining my figure. When I do want to bulk up I use the app because it’s so helpful! Like if you’re suppose to eat 2600 calories for the day with a certain amount of protein, carbs and fats, how are you supposed to guess? You honestly can’t! You could be way under one day and way over the other day and everything when it comes to results in the gym involves CONSISTENCY! You have to be consistent when wanting to see any changes!