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Benefits of Tracking Food Outside of Weight Loss and Aesthetic Goals

Tracking calories and macronutrients has become wildly popular in recent years. Most people view it as a method to lose weight and/or alter their appearance, assuming those to be the only advantages. While it can certainly be an aid in achieving those goals, there are many other benefits.

Gain an understanding of energy intake.

The majority of people have little to no idea how many calories they consume on a daily basis. And, from my experience, a lot of people - women in particular - actually overestimate their daily caloric intake. (That, or they underestimate the amount of calories necessary to achieve their goals.) The assumption is that if they aren’t seeing the results they want, they must be eating too much. While this may sometimes be true, it isn’t always.

The reality is, until you start tracking the amount of calories coming in, you will likely be making blind assumptions about how much energy you’re consuming on any given day. You may not be interested in losing weight or changing your appearance, but consuming the right amount of energy each day is essential for our health and well being.

Ensuring proper macronutrient intake.

In all my years of being a nutrition coach, unless someone has prior experience with tracking their macros, I have never had a person come to me already eating an adequate amount of protein each day. 

Typically, I will have someone begin tracking what they are currently eating, without making any changes, to see where we can make the proper adjustments. Even the people who assume they “eat a lot of protein” tend to realize they are falling short of protein consumption that would best suit their goals. It isn’t uncommon for a client to find out they are only taking in about half the amount of protein I would recommend they consume.

While increasing protein intake, in general, will yield the most dramatic results, I also see people undereating fats and/or carbohydrates. Under-consumption of either of these macronutrients will come with its own detrimental effects. Tracking food is a fantastic way to experiment with the ratios of macronutrients you’re consuming and find a balance that will work best for you as an individual.

Long story short, we need all three macronutrients in the proper proportions in order for our bodies to function properly.

Regulating blood sugar.

While tracking your food does not automatically guarantee you will have your blood glucose under control, having macronutrient targets to aim for tends to aid in keeping blood sugar in check by encouraging eating more balanced meals regularly throughout the day.

For example, if you’re trying to consume 150g of protein each day, it is likely you’re going to split up that protein into multiple meals. This same concept applies for the other two macronutrients.

I also find that tracking food encourages people to eat multiple times throughout the day and not skip meals. 

Bonus: proper protein and energy consumption is likely to lead to improvements in body composition, which will inherently improve your ability to regulate blood sugar!

Developing intuitive eating skills.

A lot of people demonize food tracking and instead advocate for “intuitive eating”.

Here’s the thing: if you aren’t currently tracking your food, how you’re eating right now is intuitive eating. You’re eating based on instinct as opposed to conscious reasoning (the definition of intuitive).

For some people, eating intuitively can easily lead to:

-skipping meals


-neglecting certain macro/micronutrients

-consuming too many highly processed foods

If you’re having success or making progress eating intuitively, great! If you’re not, it’s because you haven’t developed the skills necessary to eat instinctively while also reaching your goals. Spend at least 6 months to a year (ideally longer) tracking all your food and developing more regular eating habits and I guarantee you will gain insight that will benefit you a lifetime, eventually allowing you to forgo tracking while still making the progress you desire.

Saving money.

Ok, tracking your food isn’t automatically going to save you money, but hear me out.

Tracking food is a million times easier when you’re prepping your own food because you have much more control over portions and the ratios of macronutrients within each individual meal. That means you’re probably going to cut down on eating out and/or buying pre-packaged meals. Eating out is expensive and adds up, so the less you do it, the more you’ll save!

Bonus: You’re also likely to consume more whole foods while eliminating overly-processed foods by prepping your own meals.

So, should you be tracking your food?

If your goal is specifically to lose fat or change your body’s aesthetic, you are going to benefit greatly from tracking your food. We can’t manage what we don’t measure!

If neither of those goals pertain to you, you don’t have to track your food, however, there are a number of benefits to tracking your food over a prolonged period of time. And there are certainly more beyond those I’ve outlined above.

In my opinion, the best way to approach tracking your food, especially if it is a new endeavor for you, is with an open mind and plenty of patience. There is no need to be perfect and it is likely that you won’t be at first.

Not sure where or how to start? Online calculators and the suggestions food tracking apps provide can often be flawed and overgeneralized. My best (albeit biased) advice is to hire a coach to help guide you initially. They can help take a lot of the guesswork out of tracking and make sure you’re on the right course for your individual goals.