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Week 4: Track Your Food and What’s Next? Nutritional Periodization and Why it’s Important!

Just a little recap on the last 3 weeks:

Week 1: Eat 3 meals a day (preferably balanced with a protein/carb/fat), with 2 of these meals containing veggies

https://flexfuellife.com/blog/4-week-fail-proof-plan-healthier-living

Week 2: Sleep and Water

https://flexfuellife.com/blog/fail-proof-plan-healthier-living-week-2-water-and-sleep

Week 3: Minimize/eliminate processed foods and sugar

https://flexfuellife.com/blog/week-3-fail-proof-plan-healthier-living

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Why track your food?

Some of you may think about tracking your food and immediately get overwhelmed or find it tedious but we promise it serves an extremely productive purpose! A few reasons tracking your food is beneficial:

1. It makes you aware of what you are putting into your body

2. It makes you aware of the amount of calories you are consuming

3. It makes you aware of what the balance of those calories looks like  (ratio of proteins/carbs/fats)

4. It makes you aware of the amount of micronutrients you are consuming- or lack thereof!

5. Easily points out holes in your diet and allows you to make a plan on how to fix those holes.

6. Can prevent or at least bring awareness to mindless snacking- it’s amazing how often we eat food without even realizing it!

7. Allows us to see the timing of our food throughout the day, how it is spaced out and how it may be affecting our energy, performance, sleep, etc.

8. Shows us where to start in periodizing your nutrition for the year.

Have we convinced you this is a good idea yet?! Being aware of where we truly stand with our nutrition is the first step to reaching our goals!

How do I track?

Our top recommendation for this would be using the My Fitness Pal app. The reason for this is because it’s super easy to use, it has a huge database of foods with accurate nutrition facts, it can breakdown each meal by macronutrients and you can even set goals for each meal and snacks. You can set the time stamp feature so it keeps track of what time you ate as well! If you are eating any food that has a bar code, you can scan your food right into MFP, adjust the portion size you ate and log it just like that! So easy. The more frequently you log food, it will save those foods so you can easily log them again if it’s something you eat often. The recipe feature is another great one if you make recipes often. You can input all the ingredients and divide it by servings to easily keep track and have the recipe saved for future use. 

There are many tracking apps out there, MFP is just our personal favorite but as long as it tracks accurate nutrition facts and logs your total calories, macronutrients and micronutrients, it works! Using a pen and paper will also work to start out, this will just allow you to be more aware of what you are eating and is a completely fine place to start! Over time, you may want to transition over to an app just to see more specifics, but decide which method you feel you will be most successful with starting out and do that! 

What do I do with the information?

Once you have the data for a full week of eating, it’s time to assess! 

What to look for:

1. Average caloric intake over all days. Do you have a pretty conistent intake? Do you have days that are extra high or low and if so can you correlate those days as to why they were that way? Are you eating low calorie and not seeing results you want? Are you eating higher calorie than you thought?

2. Average balance of macronutrients. What is your average daily intake of protein, carbs and fats? Do you naturally gravitate towards higher carbs or fats? Is your protein intake adequate or inadequate for your body and activity level? 

3. Micronutrient balance- you will be able to see an overview of whether or not you are getting enough quality foods 

4. Sugar intake- tracking everything can shed a lot of light on whether or not your sugar is too high!

5. Assess progress according to goals. Is your goal to lose weight, yet you are eating super low calorie or high calorie? Is your goal to increase performance but your quality and quanity of macros is off? Whatever your goals are, having the data to assess where you are at, where you want to be and what needs to be adjusted to get there is the first step to creating change.

Enter, Nutritional Periodization

After you assess your current intake, a few different paths can be taken depending on your goals:

1.Reverse Diet- If you are eating a low amount of calories and still aren’t seeing weight loss or any body composition changes, you will need to reverse diet to repair metabolism and set yourself up for success for the rest of the year. We wrote an entire blog on this topic! Check it out here: https://flexfuellife.com/blog/metabolic-adaptation-and-reverse-dieting-does-it-apply-you

2. Cutting phase- If you are eating a higher amount of calories and your goal is weight loss/body composistion, you will need to slowly cut back on calories to see the progress you are looking for.

3. Maintenance phase- If you are eating an appropriate amount of calories and your goal is to just maintain or fine tune your current intake you can hang out just where you are while making sure your proteins, carbs and fats are in an appropriate balance. Depending on your activity level, you may want to play with different ratios of macros to see what works best for you!

4.Bulking phase- If your goal is to put on weight, muscle or increase performance, you will want to work your way into a caloric surplus where you are actively feeding your body to do so. Doing this in the appropraite way will ensure as minimal fat gain as possible while putting on muscle.

No matter what your goals are your nutrition should be periodized, you should have Season, Post season, Off season and pre-season. Even if you aren’t an athlete, your nutrition should go in similar phases throughout the year to keep your metabolism, hormones, mind and body healthy!

Make A Game Plan!

You should have a plan laid out for the entire year. Knowing your plan and where you are headed is crucial to success! It is much easier to comply and hang on through those challenges times when you can see the big picture, if you are dieting mindlessly, it can be so easy to make excuses and fall off the wagon! 

If you are unsure of which direction you should be going and you don’t have a clear plan, please don’t wait to reach out! The longer you put off creating a concrete plan, the longer you push off achieving your goals and setting your body up in an optimal place! If you want to have that Summer body, NOW is the time to start! Not only for this year, but even more so for NEXT year! Periodization is setting you up for the long game- no more crash, fad diets! 

Do you want to perform your best for next year’s Crossfit Open? NOW is the time to start periodizing, getting your body in a healthy, optimal place to perform at it’s best! Same goes for any other physical ventures you may have- marathons, sparatan races, mountain climbing, etc. Whatever it is, don’t start thinking about your nutrition before it’s too late, the longer you give your body to prep and prepare, the easier the process will be! 

Here’s to a having a game plan and crushing it!!

Katy

P.S. – Dont forget our Facebook live @7pm pst. tonight 3/26!

My Fitness Pal: Breakdown and a Peek into my Daily Food Log

Planning for the week ahead I was trying to think of something practical I could write about that everyone could use. I get a lot of questions on the best way to log and track foods, so I thought i’d do my best to break it down here and hopefully clear any questions up! Feel free to comment below with any questions or with anything tricks you may have found make things easier!

We encourage our clients to use My Fitness Pal App to track their food. There are other apps out there that work just fine but we have found MFP to have the largest data base of food and have the best accuracy when it comes to nutrition facts. Keep in mind no app is perfect, so always double check your entries! 

When initially signing up for MFP, we recommend downloading the premium version. This is $10/mnth or $50/year. This will allow you to set your macronutrient goals specifically down to the gram, if you don’t have premium it will only let you set it by percentages, which can end up setting your numbers off. Premium version also allows you to set different sets of numbers on different days, which is great for those of you who have several sets of numbers. This keeps you on track and leaves less room for error.

When setting your numbers you will want to go to GOALS=> CALORIE AND MACRONUTRIENT GOALS=>Set your Default Goal (I usually use workout day numbers for this for those of you with more then one set of numbers!)

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Once you have your personal Macros set, you can start tracking your food and easily know how many macros you have used up and how many you have left.  If you go to DIARY=>Scroll to the bottom to NUTRITION=> you can check your macros there to make sure you stay on track. Make sure you are looking under “Nutrients” so you can see you progress in grams, not by percentages. 

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Adding your food in at each meal, you will need to pick the best selection in MFP or if there is a barcode to scan, you can scan in the package. Any food in MFP that is Green Checked is the best option. These are certified and the nutrition facts are usually the most reliable.

After you select your food, you must adjust the serving size accordingly.  For example: You can select Egg Whites where 1 serving=46grams. If you want 3 servings you can adjust serving size to 3. This can be done with ounces, grams, Tbs, etc. You can always adjust serving size or number of servings to make it fit what you need.

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Once you log a food once, it will be saved into your frequent Foods and easy to access for the next time! The more you log the quicker and easier it will be over time!

This is an example of my day completed and how close we want you to hit your numbers! It can be done and the sooner you create the habit of hitting those targets on point, the sooner you will see progress. It can seem daunting at first to weigh out all your food and hit your numbers that precisely, but once you do it consistently it will become second nature!

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I’m currently on a bulk, so I am aware my sugar is high!! My numbers look like this DAILY. Always within a gram or two of my targets! When first starting to track, I always planned my day the night before, now I usually go through my day and just log as I go because it is easy for me to do now. If I ever want a special treat, I plan ahead for it and make sure I fit it in! 

I hope you all find this helpful! Follow me on My Fitness Pal, username katyann53186. I will be going over how to create a recipe in a future blog!!

Have an awesome week, stay on track and always feel free to email Mallory or I with any further questions at personal emails or info.flexfuellife@gmail.com

Katy