How To Get Your Nutrition Under Control Once & For All
In the last post, I ranted about food scales, and I hope it wasn’t too terribly boring, because this post I’m going to rant about MyFitnessPal, the popular and free app/website I (and many other people) use to track nutrition habits.
This post is going to dive deep into the mysterious but simple art of tracking macros using this tool, and I’m going to give you some helpful tips and tricks that make it way less time-consuming and nit-picky than you might have previously thought.
If you don’t know what macronutrients (macros, for short) are, check out this post for a quick look at them, and then pop back here for the rest of the hows and whys of MyFitnessPal.
My thought progression in regards to counting macros was much the same as that of the one I had about food scales.
I have been “tracking” my macros for months and months now, altering them every so often to see what happens and how I feel/perform, and I truly think everyone should track them for a few weeks at least once in their life, whether you're #FitFam or not, just to get informed on what you put into your body and how it responds.
Unfortunately, making your own tweaks and changes is the only process I can recommend to get your “perfect” macros down pat, but to start, check out bodybuilding.com’s free macro calculator or even Katy Hearn’s to give yourself some numbers to start with.
Once you get your numbers, you’re going to need to log your food into MyFitnessPal for at least two weeks and play around with combinations to see how you can best hit your targets. You likely won’t hit every number spot on, like, ever. (Honestly, I think if you do, you deserve a golden ticket because that’d be super duper hard.) Don’t get caught up in going “over” or “under” your macros. Try to stay within 5-10 grams, but like I said, spend a couple weeks just learning how to do this and playing with the numbers.
MyFitnessPal is, as I said, an app and a website. I recommend using the app on your phone and the website on an actual computer, because it’s just much easier to manipulate and input information on the computer version compared to the mobile version.
This platform has so many perks, though. You can save meals, recipes, or things you always eat, for example, so that when you go to input something you can choose from “my meals” or even just rapidly import “yesterday’s breakfast” for a quick calculation.
Let’s say you make a casserole of meat, vegetables and pasta. You can create that recipe and MyFitnessPal will calculate the nutritional information for you. You just have to determine the serving size, which is where a food scale is going to be your BFF.
You can also scan the barcode of products and MyFitnessPal will (99% of the time) recognize them and pull up all of the information for you so that you don’t have to type it in.
It’s seriously so user friendly and clear that you’ll get the hang of it after 2 or 3 days.
If you’re really looking to save time and stay on track, then you can be like me and input your meals before you eat them so you can a) budget for other things and b) just get it done and over with.
Here’s what I do:
When I make breakfast in the morning, I pull up MyFitnessPal on my laptop and put in my breakfast information. Then, because I pack my lunch and snacks for work right after I finish breakfast, I input those in in the morning, too, and this helps me see what kind of snacks I can afford to have based on my lunch or vice versa.
Then, when lunchtime rolls around, I a) know what I’m eating in terms of macros and b) have already inputted the information and don’t have to worry about it. .
It seems time consuming up front, but as with most things, it becomes habitual the more you do it.
The website syncs with the app (and vice versa), so you can then look on your phone throughout the day if you end up grabbing an extra snack or dinner out. Tip: Turn your phone sideways to see the macros for each meal.
I love this app so much because of the results I’ve seen in using it. It has taught me so much about food and also helped eliminate so much stress about food and “dieting” that I used to have. I’m sure you’ve been there, too, because it’s so easy to get to that place mentally, but this tool (and my trusty little scale) have taught me so, so much and made such a difference that I want to teach you how to use them, too.
Because of MyFitnessPal and a food scale, I feel insanely informed and confident without these things, too. I know when I go to a restaurant, or just cook without tracking, what I’m eating (basically) and how to alter certain foods to fit better within my macros for the day.
It’s really a neat process that doesn’t have to be obsessive at all if done the right way, and so I challenge you, if you’ve never done it, thought about doing it, or have even thought negatively about it, to give it a chance. Try tracking your food for 2 weeks and see what you learn. I promise you won’t be disappointed, because in the very least, you’re gaining knowledge.
And knowledge is power, right?