Keeping a food diary

Whether you make use of a whiteboard on your kitchen wall, an app on your phone or you just prefer the traditional method of keeping a diary, more and more people are keeping detailed records of what they consume every single day. The questions for us are whether or not food diaries are beneficial and can they pose any risks to overall progression. 

Let’s start with the obvious benefits. Once you have established exactly what you want to achieve it is important that you get your nutrition in line. This is where working with a personal trainer can really help. Not only will they tell you exactly what you need to do in the gym, they can also devise a nutritional plan that works alongside your exercise to help maximise results. For example, you know that if you are looking to build strength that you are going to be spending a lot more time on weights and probably bulking in the kitchen. But if you want to lose fat then you will be looking more towards HIIT and trying to cut.

So where does a food diary help with this? Well if you are getting in after work and rushing around, whether it is looking after the kids or just because you want to be able to relax as soon as possible, the chances are that you will overlook a vital part of your nutrition. Having a diary can outline exactly what you are supposed to be eating that day in order to achieve your goals. Your only job then is to add whatever else you have eaten throughout the day so that you know exactly what you consume.

It’s a great way to organise your shopping too, which can help save money in the long-run. Nipping out to the shop at night is certain to get you spending far more than you need to. If you plan your meals in advance then you should only buy what you need and then trips to the shop can be left for picking up the essentials throughout the week.

Planning is only one half of the function of a food diary though. Invariably you will eat things throughout the week that you haven’t planned for and this needs to be monitored if you want to identify the areas where you might need to improve. Once you have planned what you are eating, pre-preparing meals will tell you exactly how much of each nutrient you are getting. This will allow you to tailor your plan to your goals and will tell you just what sort of foods you can eat in between meals.

So is it all round benefits? Well it’s difficult to find any particular faults in keeping a detailed record of what you eat but it isn’t always the most practical thing to do. If life teaches us anything it is that you might struggle to plan for tomorrow, let alone a week in advance. So any number of things can happen that will drastically change what you are eating.

Then you have the fact that when leading a busy life you might find yourself eating a lot on the go. The last thing you are thinking about then is recording it all in a diary and it is so easy to forget something when you come to trying to remember it all at the end of the day.

Despite these challenges, meticulous planning and preparation is so vital to maximising results. I can’t stress highly enough how important it is for getting you into good habits and ensuring that you stick to fitness regime.

Ollie Lawrence
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