Keeping a training diary is easy. Anyone who takes their workouts seriously does that. Keeping a food diary is hard. You eat four, five, even six times a day, every day and only train a few times a week. Food diaries take true dedication.
Fortunately, there are shortcuts to make the process easier to handle.
Step 1 – Establish a consistent diet. I understand if you deviate on the weekends, but during your workweek it makes sense to keep your diet consistent from day to day. Eat similar foods, if not the exact same foods and quantities every day. If you do that you don’t have to track five days, you only have to track one. It makes the whole process so much easier.
Step 2 – Write it down. I don’t recommend going straight to the app or the spreadsheet. I like notebooks. Keep a notebook with you and write it down. Write down what you eat, the approximate portions. You don’t need a food scale. Just take a guess. Also keep track of the times that you eat during the day. Charting the timing of your calories can mean as much as the calorie and protein counts.
Step 3 – Put the calories and macros in Excel. I said don’t go straight to the spreadsheet. I didn’t say to avoid it entirely.
After you have a few days or even a week of your eating written down, its time to put it in a spreadsheet. I like columns for grams of protein, carbs and fat as well as calories. Have your spreadsheet subtotal each meal. As long as you follow step 1 above and stay consistent, you don’t have to write up each and every day. You only have to know the breakdown of your “base” diet. Slight fluctuations from day to day are not important as long as you are holding steady in general.
Step 4 – Weigh yourself. Do it weekly. Do it at the same time of day. Write it down. After a few weeks you will be able to get an idea of how the scale is moving. Week to week numbers are not so important. Its the trend over months that gives you feedback.
Step 5 – Adjust. If you followed the above four steps, you can tell if you are eating too much, too little, or just the right amount. Ideally, you will figure out how much you need to maintain. After that you can fine tune.
Fine tuning is a skill. Don’t overreact to the changes on the scale. Up or down a few hundred calories is enough.