How long should I diet log for?
Depending on how strict you need to be for your goals, you can be more or less stringent around your diet logging. Typically, we start people off with a three day diet log during the workweek so they can show us what their typical routine is. Then, we have them do a diet log over the weekend for three days. This helps us get an idea of what people eat on both “good days’” and “off days” as well as what an “off day” looks like. Oftentimes, it’s not what people are snacking on during the weekends that is the biggest impediment, but the way they structure their meals and other foundational eating habits that are standing in their way!
Once you get comfortable diet logging for a few days in a row, you should cycle in trying to diet log for a week or two at a time. If you miss a meal here and there, don’t scrap the whole day! Just do pick up where you left off (even if it’s the middle or end of the day) and log from that point forward. It’s not about being perfect – it’s about being better.
How accurate are the calorie counts on apps and food labels?
Not very! The calorie counts on the labels of most foods are technically wrong too, because food isn’t made with the laser precision that, well, a laser is.
But this is still useful information for what we are trying to accomplish. If you consistently use the same tracking app or buy the same foods, then you will eventually become comfortable identifying how much a serving size is and being able to compare what you ate from one day to the next. Whether you do this through serving sizes, macros, or calories, the goal is the same: to consistently eat the amount of food that matches with your fitness goals.
You can’t know how much you are eating from day to day if you don’t write it down, because you will lie to yourself. You will fudge the numbers in your head to make it fit the narrative that you are doing everything correctly. We see it all the time. Make sure to diet log and make sure you are objective in your assessment of your eating.
This also ties into our approach towards fixing your diet. With incremental changes to your diet, it becomes less important exactly how many calories you are eating, but instead how many you are eating in relation to how you used to eat. In order to achieve this strategy, we need accurate information on what people are eating in the first place, which is why diet logging is so important!