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Ingredient Articles

Food Tracking Apps: Good or Bad?

by Joseph Packo

 

These days our smart phones are capable of so many beneficial features when it comes to helping us work on our healthy lifestyles. There are a plethora of applications that help us learn how to be healthier everyday, whether tracking our exercise routines, sleep habits, or the foods we consume. When food tracking apps started showing up several years ago, many people began their journey to lose weight by tracking what they ate. Soon thereafter, "macros" were introduced to these apps, but since then, more and more confusion has ensued.

If you haven't heard of them before, "macros" are macronutrients - the grams of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins contained in foods you eat. Some apps allow you to set a count on each individual macro depending on needs... but how do you know what your individual needs are on a daily basis - let alone when trying to lose weight quickly and efficiently?

Some of the questions that come up when dieters try to use these apps while on a weight loss program:

  • Am I eating enough food?
  • Am I eating too much food?
  • What should my macronutrient counts look like each day?
  • How many calories should I eat to lose weight?


At ITG we coach many dieters every day, so we notice a few things when it comes to:

  1. Those who do not use any type of food diary.
  2. Those who use some food tracking apps adjust the macronutrients they eat each day depending on what the scale tells them.
  3. Dieters who use ITG's easy-to-use Food Diary (on the web or paper format) and share this information weekly with their coach.

Read more about each category:

  1. Those who do not use any type of diary are almost always the least successful on the ITG Diet Plan. They end up stalling, getting frustrated, and quit the program early. Attaining goal weight takes much longer than expected with many setbacks along the way. Those who do not use a food diary at all are simply not holding themselves accountable to the program, the way it was designed to work. By not tracking what you eat each day, you won't remember in a week that you had a couple bites of this or that, off-program. You won't understand why your weight stayed the same, even though you thought you followed it properly for the past 7 days. Did you take your daily required supplements? Did you eat all of your vegetables? (most of them does not count!) Without a food diary, you and your coach cannot gain any insight into what adjustments will need to be made for the upcoming week. Remember, your coach is your lifeline to success, and without a proper Food Diary, your coach can't give you any helpful advice.
  2. Today's food tracking apps consist of so many moving parts that they tend to become tedious. Sometimes you may even notice quite a bit of misinformation that will be detrimental to your success on the ITG Diet Plan. A major problem with these apps is they rely on information posted by other users with a large degree of user error. For instance, when we tried to log a simple dinner of baked chicken and broccoli in a popular app, there were too many chicken and broccoli choices available. Each of those entries had differing nutritional information. We weren't sure which ones to select! This threw off our "macros" - which leads to our next issue, adjusting macronutrients. This means that you reduce or increase grams of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats you eat depending on what the scale tells you every day. When users don't see their weight drop, they figure that reducing or increasing certain "macros" will help them be more successful next time they get on the scale. Users can also input their target number of calories they want to reach each day. When dieters fall short of daily calorie counts or macros, they tend to add other foods or drinks that are off-program to make up the difference, or eat more than they should on top of what the program calls for. This in turn slows progress, causes stress, and makes the user feel defeated. Users of these apps tend to give up too easily because they don't see the quick results they expected after spending a great deal of time and thought simply tracking numbers.
  3. ITG's Food Diary in paper booklet format as well as our online Food Diary helps you achieve the best results along with coaching. There are no macros. No calories. No adjustments needed. What we as coaches need to know to best help you on your journey is: What are you eating and drinking each day, and are they on the list of approved foods and beverages? The biggest learning opportunities come from the mistakes we make, and the Food Diary accomplishes this task. By filling out the ITG Food Diary, your coach has all the important pieces of information needed to give you feedback, advice, and help you with any stalling in your progress that you might experience (completely normal at times!) If your coach notices you are hitting a bit of a roadblock, they can help you make the dietary changes necessary to jump start your progress and get you back on track. Bring your ITG Food Diary to every appointment (no exceptions!) or make sure your online Food Diary is completed for your Weekly Check-in online.

One of the even greater benefits of tracking your food the simple way with ITG's Food Diary is that you will gain knowledge of portion control. Throughout Step 1 you will be creating great new habits of tracking your food. When you enter Step 2 and add portions of the previously eliminated food groups, your will be more aware of what you consume so you don't eat more in a day than you should (which is how you gained weight in the first place!) Finally, in Step 3, you will continue to be aware of the foods you consume and will have greater knowledge of how to fit new and different foods into your everyday meal planning, and which category the foods fall into (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates).

ITG Coaches firmly support using the ITG Food Diary to help their dieters be successful as possible. Without it, we can't give you the best advice. We want to be able to guide you in your journey, but more importantly teach you how you can maintain your new weight for years to come, so make sure you are prepared for your check-in - with your diary in hand!

For an extra Food Diary, please let ITG or your personal ITG Coach know at any time. We will provide you with a new copy while you are on the program. If you are an online dieter, we are here to answer your questions about filling out the online Food Diary. We are excited to announce that we are currently working on our own easy-to-use ITG Food Diary App that will integrate seamlessly with the ITG website and Weekly Check-ins, so stay tuned for further announcements coming soon!

Remember - When it comes to the 3-Step ITG Diet Plan, remember these three things: 1/3 of your success is sticking to the correct foods and beverages. 1/3 is utilizing advice given by your coach. And finally, 1/3 is keeping track with your Food Diary to help you make those dietary changes you can stick to, for life!

 

Joseph is Operations Director at ITG Diet Corporate Headquarters in Saint Petersburg, Florida.

 

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