Common MFP Tracking Mistakes
Apps like MyFitnesspal are great for tracking your food intake and helps you learn what nutrients are in food so, eventually, you can eat without having to track every gram that goes in the hole under your nose. However, like anything, it is not 100% accurate as there are thousands of entries, some with macros and some with just a calorie number. So take some time to learn how to navigate MFP, or the app you have chosen, and spend some time scanning the most common foods you eat to ensure you’re tracking them accurately.
Follow these tips and be cautious of the common tracking mistakes to ensure you are as accurate as possible with tracking. The more you know, the better you can do!
Top 4 Tracking Tips
Tip 1 – SCAN SCAN SCAN
If you’re eating mostly clean, unprocessed foods (as we recommend) you won’t have much to scan. However, you can scan your supplements and most packaged meat will have a label you can scan which makes it easier! BUT – it is important to double check the macros when you scan it in, it doesn’t always match!
Tip 2 – VERIFY THE FOOD
If you don’t have a label to scan, search for the food and pick the verified foods (ones with the green checkmark), compare a few for calories AND macros. Pick the one that seems legit.
Tip 3 – TRACK HOW IT’S WEIGHED
Search your food for how you weigh it. For example, if you are weighing your food prior to cooking, then track it raw. Search for ‘chicken breast, raw.’
If you weigh it after it is cooked, search for ‘chicken breast, cooked.’ Additionally, if you are cooking it plain or in oil, search for that way.
Here’s the comparison:
4 oz chicken breast raw = 26p 1.5f
4 oz chicken breast cooked = 34.7p and 1.3f
Same goes for all food, especially rice and potatoes. Search for white rice, cooked and you should find that 1 cup = ~40 carbs.
Tip 4 – PLAN YOUR DAY
Try to take some time to plug in your meals the night before so you can see what adjustments need to be made or what type of macro tetris you need to play 🙂 This is super easy if you meal prep and know what you will be eating for your main meals! It is hard to hit your macro goals if you track as you go. Additionally, if you eat the same meals frequently, you can make a meal in MFP and quick add that daily. I.e. you eat the same breakfast 3-4x a week, just make it a meal so it’s easier for you to track.
This allows you to stay on track mentally as you know what you’re going to eat, makes it easier to pass on the temptations at work, and keeps you in check as you won’t find yourself in the drive-thru because you’re starving.
7 Common Tracking Mistakes
Mistake 1 – DETAILS MATTER
Don’t pick generic entries for something like a Turkey Burger, do your best to breakdown your food into individual ingredients. So log the brioche bun, 6 oz. of ground turkey, 2 oz. of swiss cheese etc. etc.
Although this might be a bit tedious the first-time round, if it’s a meal you eat out frequently at your favorite brunch spot, you can create a short-cut for it by creating a meal in the app!
Mistake 2 – NIBBLES COUNT
You don’t track sauces or beverages (or bites!) Did you know that 2 tbsp of BBQ sauce has 60 cals, 12g sugar and 15g carbs???… the likelihood of ONLY using 2 tbsp is pretty small so make sure you take time to measure and track these sauces… condiments add up REALLL quick!
You may just think it was just a bite.. or two… but bites of food add up too especially if it’s something calorie dense like nuts or trail mix.
If it goes in your mouth, it goes in your tracker 🙂
Mistake 3 – THE LOWEST CALORIE OPTION
I know it’s tempting to always pick the donut with the least amount of calories, but if you’re consistently doing this then you’re just cheating yourself out of making any progress.
An example of one of my favorite indulgences is a jumbo cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting from Whole Foods. Excuse me while I wipe the drool from the corner of my lips…
On one occasion when I gave into this beauty, I searched the MFP database and found they ranged from 210 calories all the way up to 960! YIKES! That’s one solid cinnamon roll. I decided to go with the one in the middle, even though I should have known better – it is a MONSTER!
Anyway, after consuming the entire thing, I quickly realized that there was NO WAY this bad boy only came to 350 calories. So instead of lying to myself, I regretfully switched my entry to the 960 calorie option and tried not to have a heart attack as I realized I had eaten all of my carbs for the day (about 180g) in one sitting! Luckily it was still morning so I hadn’t eaten anything else and was able to take appropriate action for the rest of the day – ie. eat only chicken and egg whites! #WORTHIT
Mistake 4 – YOU TRACK AFTER THE FACT
This is a big mistake! Tracking on the fly or after the fact is not as accurate since you have already consumed the food and I don’t know about you, but I often struggle to remember if I brushed my hair some days, so the chance of me accurately remembering all the different measurements for each item of food I’ve eaten throughout the day is minimal!
Plus, if you realize the food was wayyy higher in carbs than you anticipated, taking up 3/4 of your daily intake, and leaving you with 20g fat, 10g protein and 3g carbs for dinner… whatcha gonna do with that??
Tip: Plan your food out the night before, or better yet, add your meals in when you meal prep so you can build around those meals!
Mistake 5 – YOU TRACK CALORIES WITHOUT MACROS
Let’s say I want to log sushi. I see an entry for 125 calories for 3 pieces which seems legit, but when I click on it I can see that there’s no macronutrient information. Make sure you check on the macronutrient information! You want to know where the 125 calories come from!
Mistake 6 – YOU TRACK EXERCISE
Your macro intake is set to the overall intake you should have based upon your activity level, body composition information given to your coach, and other lifestyle factors you have provided. SO, you should not track your exercise as it will throw off your intake numbers automatically and tell you to eat more. You do not want the app to be adjusting your macros for you .Changes to your macros should be done with the help of a coach and should be based on consistent data.
Mistake 7 – YOU DON’T TRACK ALCOHOL (PROPERLY)T
Building solid nutrition habits can be pretty smooth sailing, until we are faced with temptation and want to feel normal in social environments, which is bound to happen! So, let’s talk about how you can enjoy a margarita, glass of bubbly or and a good glass of vino without totally derailing.
Alcohol, otherwise referred to as the ‘fourth macro’ adds up calories quickly so it is important to know how to track your night out. As mentioned previously, we track alcohol as 7 calories per gram.
The good news is you can include a glass or two of your favorite beverages on occasion without ruining your progress. However, on the flip side, alcohol calories add up quick!!! Many people refer to alcohol as empty calories, because there is no nutritional value in booze, but the calories still count!
It is important to know that our body doesn’t metabolize food and break it down as it would normally when alcohol is present because your body is focused on processing and eliminating toxins from the alcohol before metabolizing food. Therefore, we recommend keeping your food quality high when you are drinking and making a plan ahead of time. Most people can relate to a fun night out, having one too many, and then finding yourself ordering Dominos because pizza has never sounded better! 🙂
What happens on the scale after a night out? It is pretty easy to predict that the scale will reflect a slight loss the day after a fun night out, mainly due to dehydration. However, the days following largely depends on the drink of choice, how much you drank, and what food was consumed. The scale will likely go up for a few days following and then normalize 3-4 days after. So rather than freaking out, try to plan ahead for events, celebrations and parties so we can have fun and be successful!
How do you plan for an event?
- Get a good workout in the morning of
- Stick with protein and veggies at your main meals during the day
- Set a limit on your drinks BEFORE you go out!
- Choose high-quality drinks, skip the heavy beer and sugary mixed drinks
- Bring your own mixers – stick with 0 calories options such as club soda, sparkling water, lemon/lime and stevia
- Better yet – bring something non alcoholic to sip on! Kombucha tea, flavored water, club soda and lime, etc