Track Your Diet and Exercise for Consistency - dummies

Track Your Diet and Exercise for Consistency

By Meri Reffetto

Whether you’ve hit a plateau after losing some weight or you’ve had a hard time getting your weight to budge in the first place, take the time to track your food intake and physical activity. You may feel like you’re eating the right foods and exercising regularly, but until you track your food intake and physical activity for at least a week, it’s hard to tell.

You’d be surprised how easy it is for excess calories, the wrong food choices, and exercise inconsistency to slip in without you knowing it.

When keeping a food journal, you may notice that you increased your starches to three servings at breakfast and lunch rather than two. That adds up to 160 calories right there.

You may also find that you really only went on two walks this week rather than four or that you ate more high-glycemic foods than low ones for the week. These are the small, subtle differences that can really affect your results.

Take a look at this food journal as an example.


If you just look at the food choices and balance, this food journal seems great. This person is using low-glycemic foods, eating every four to five hours, and balancing her intake of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Her exercise looks good too.

However, this person’s weight isn’t moving.

When you take a closer look at the portion sizes, you realize that her calorie intake adds up to approximately 2,385 calories and that she has increased carbohydrate servings with a few meals, which can make her glycemic load higher than she may want.

This person has several options. Because nuts are high in calories despite being healthy and low-glycemic, she can decrease her almond servings to 1/4 cup. She can also decrease her toast in the morning to one slice and omit the whole-wheat roll with dinner.

These moves would not only decrease her glycemic load for breakfast and dinner but they’d also lower her total calorie level to 1,885 calories, which may be enough to jump-start her weight loss again. By omitting one of the nut servings altogether, she can bring her total calorie level down to just 1,700.

When you review your own food journal for consistency, you want to look for the following:

  • Food choices

  • Balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat

  • Portion sizes

  • Exercise intensity and frequency

You don’t have to count calories like in this example. Just review the portion sizes to ensure you’re on the right track. Portion sizes that are a little too big are one of the subtle ways calories sneak in even when you’re eating all the right foods.