Why Wednesday: WHY do I have to track my food before starting nutrition coaching?
I’m taking the liberty of coining today “WHY Wednesday” and wanted to tackle the question of why I have people do a food log prior to me taking them on as a nutrition client, or really even just talking about their nutrition in general. Why is this so necessary and important? Well, there are a number of reasons related to goals, and being able to suggest healthy swaps for foods that commonly pop up on your logs, but the most significant reason to doing an initial food log is that it gives me a better sense of where YOUR body is metabolically.
For example, if you come to me with the goal of weight loss one would assume that you need to consume a little less, and move a little more than you’re currently doing...right? Well, that old saying...”you know what happens when you assume??” Totally applicable here! I need to have an idea of what your CURRENT intake is in order to come up with a appropriate plan to work WITH the current state of your body, not fight against it.
Most nutrition coaches (or automated macro calculators) will take some info like your height, weight, age, and activity level, toss it into a generalized equation, and spit back a number you should aim for each day. These equations take no part of your health history, diet history, training age, or current eating habits into consideration. If you blindly just follow these numbers they could be ok, or it could be a HUGE mistake sending you on the fast track in the opposite direction of your goals!
For example, if a macro calculator tells you in order to meet your goal of “weight loss” you should consume 1600 calories per day, BUT you’re currently only eating 1100 calories per day (but have no idea bc you never tracked it) and have been doing so for about the past year or two- then your metabolic rate has probably slowed down to account for your undereating...now, when you start adding an extra 500 calories per day because the calculator told you to- you’ll be pissed when the scale starts tipping upward, throw your hands in the air and complain that macros don’t work, and give up on the whole thing.
Meanwhile, if you would have completed a 4-7 day food log, you would have known you were eating well under your “estimated” amount, and a good coach would know how to systematically guide you through a gradual process to work you back up to a healthy metabolic rate without making that huge jump, and spike on the scale.
This works the same way on the flip side....if you’re a hard gainer, and want to put on some mass and the calculator tells you to consume 2500 calories/day to gain weight- but you don’t realize that you already consume about 3000/day, and have an above average metabolic rate, if you cut back to the 2500 you’ll start seeing the scale drop, and again get frustrated and probably resort to the current hyped up mass gainer power, pill, or shake...fingers crossed and hope for the best.
You see, knowing where you are starting from is a HUGE piece of the puzzle that often goes missing when people resort to following the calculators or prediction equations with a no questions asked approach. Good nutrition plans should be 100% specific to the individual and their current state of health, and should not be left to chance of a generalized math equation. If you’ve got more questions about food logging, metabolic rate, macro prescriptions or nutrition coaching, you can DM or email me today!
Also- if you’ve got other general nutrition questions you’d like to see answered here- send them my way! firstname.lastname@example.org