A lot of people don’t keep tabs on what they eat. They might know that eating too much is bad for them, but they’re not sure how much to eat or how to track their food intake.
With so much going on in our lives, it’s easy to eat without really paying attention to how it affects our bodies.
But if you want to reach specific fitness goals, it’s important to track your food intake. Even if you just want to stay healthy, keeping an eye on your food intake still matters.
Now, there are different ways to track your food intake. You’ve probably heard of portion control or counting calories. The question is, what’s the best way to track your food intake?
In the video we’re about to show you, Registered Dietitian and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Brian St. Pierre from Precision Nutrition provides a clear explanation of the best way to track your food intake.
According to Brian, the best way to track your food intake depends on your goals, needs, and life situations. This informative video lasts around 10 minutes, so it won’t take up too much of your time.
Table of Contents
- 7 Ways to Track Your Food Intake
- Which Method Is Right For You?
7 Ways to Track Your Food Intake
In the first 6 minutes of this video, Brian explains the different ways of tracking food intake, how they all fit on the spectrum from least precise to most precise, and how each one has a cost-benefit ratio.
The least precise method on the spectrum is mindless eating. Well, it’s not really a method to track your food intake because there’s no tracking involved.
Mindless eating means eating whatever you want without keeping track or being aware of your food intake. It hardly requires any effort, but it has the lowest level of precision and no health benefit.
Mindful or Intuitive Eating
After discussing mindless eating, Brian moves on to mindful or intuitive eating. This approach relies on your fullness and hunger cues to determine when and how much you should eat.
Mindful eating requires only a little effort, and it can be beneficial for individuals who already possess the skill. However, it may not provide the level of precision needed for specific body composition goals.
Portion Control with a Plate
The third method on the spectrum is portion control with a plate. This method involves using your plate to portion your food and track your intake.
For instance, you allocate half of your plate for vegetables, a quarter for protein, one-eighth for starches and fruits, and the remaining one-eighth for healthy fats.
This method is quite simple and easy to follow. It also offers sufficient precision for most people to achieve their goals. Plus, it can be adjusted to accommodate your eating styles and preferences.
Hand-Size Portion Control
Coming in at number four on the spectrum is hand-size portion control. This method involves using your hand or parts of your hand to gauge your portion sizes.
So, you use your palm to measure protein, your fist for non-starchy vegetables, your cupped hand for starches and fruits, and your thumb for healthy fats.
This method offers several advantages:
- It’s easy to use.
- You have a personalized and consistent reference since your hand size remains the same.
- You can employ this method anywhere since your hands are always with you.
- It can be adjusted to suit your eating style.
- It provides sufficient precision for most people to achieve their goals.
Weighing Foods and Tracking Macros
The next method is weighing foods (counting calories) and tracking macros. This approach is more accurate than the previously mentioned methods, making it suitable for individuals who want to reach a more precise goal.
However, this method also has its drawbacks. It requires more effort, and it could lead to disordered eating as you become obsessed with the numbers.
Weighing Foods and Following a Specific Meal Plan
The second-to-last method on the spectrum is weighing foods and following a specific meal plan. This method employs food weighing and macro tracking, but it takes them further by using them to generate a specific meal plan.
Individuals with very specific body composition goals, such as bodybuilders, often adopt this method. It offers a high level of precision, enabling you to achieve a very lean physique.
However, this method may come at the expense of your social and mental well-being due to the significant effort it demands.
Living in a Metabolic Chamber
Lastly, the most precise method involves participating in a research study and residing in a metabolic chamber where scientists prescribe and measure all your food intake. However, this type of tracking is not realistic or accessible to most people.
Which Method Is Right For You?
After explaining the 7 ways to track your food intake, Brian discusses the best tracking methods for 3 groups of eaters.
This grouping is used by Precision Nutrition to classify clients based on their goals, nutritional knowledge, skills, and what they can do consistently.
Which method is right for you depends on which group of eaters you belong to. The 3 groups of eaters are as follows:
Level 1 eaters: These individuals aim to live a healthy life without specific body composition goals. This group includes most people. The best methods for this group are mindful eating, portion control with a plate, or hand-size portion control.
Level 2 eaters: These individuals have more advanced body composition goals, such as high-level recreational athletes. They require a more precise method, so they can choose between hand-size portion control or food weighing and macro tracking.
Level 3 eaters: These individuals are paid for their physical appearances, such as bodybuilders, physique competitors, or models. They have very specific body composition goals and can benefit from macro tracking and following a specific meal plan.
At the end of the video, Brian advises us to consider our wants and needs and find a balance between the two. The cost-to-benefit ratio should also align with our daily lives and goal requirements.
Now that we have discussed the key points from Brian’s video, please watch the video to better understand the best way to track your food intake. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.