Nutrition Journaling 101

Sometimes we feel as though we exercise rigorously and eat right, but we’re still not reaching our goals. If you’re coming to class regularly and completing all your workouts with maximum effort, then exercise is probably isn’t the reason you’re not seeing results. It’s honestly probably your diet. Whether it’s not eating enough, over eating or just eating the wrong things, you’re diet is probably the culprit. One way to find out for sure is to maintain a nutrition journal.

Why are nutrition journals useful?

A nutrition journal will help you and your coaches locate problems and create a plan to tackle them. It’ll also hold you accountable to yourself. It’s one thing to eat a whole pizza, while enjoying a netflix binge, but it’s another thing to write down that you ate a whole pizza.

Who should keep a nutrition journal?

Everyone. We recommend nutrition journaling, even if you are not following a diet program. Get an idea what you’re putting in your body and when. This can tell you how your meals are affecting your performance at the gym and life generally. This is the knowledge you need to make lifestyle changes.

How can you keep a nutrition journal?

  1. Wodify Nutrition Journal: Your CrossFit Aesthetics membership gives you access to Wodify. Click here to find out how to use this feature.
    • Benefits: Wodify allows you to not only track nutrition, but also your weightlifting and metcon performance. Additionally, you can give access to your Coaches, so they can track your progress and provide feedback. Wodify is a great all around solution for tracking your health and fitness journey.
    • Downside: Wodify does not provide nutritional information about what you ate. It’s only a recording mechanism. Additionally, typing out your foods is not as beneficial as writing it by hand.
  2. MyFitnessPal: This free app allows you to track your foods and get nutrition information instantly.
    • Benefits: My Fitness Pal provides you with nutritional information for pretty much everything you can imagine. It even has the nutritional breakdown for foods from restaurants, so recording your meals is a breeze. You’ll see exactly how many calories you consumed when you ate that Domino’s Pizza.
    • Downside: It’s ease of use, takes some of the accountability out of journaling. Sometimes just clicking a few buttons takes away the mental awareness of what you’re doing. Actually writing things down (or even typing it out with Wodify) is more engaging and you get more out of these kinds of experiences.
  3. Paper journaling: Use any notebook you have laying around or purchase one. All you need is a pen and paper.
    • Benefits: Manually writing provides ultimate engagement, so accountability is maximized. You’ll be able to easily show your journal to your coaches, so you may assess your meals together.
    • Downside: You have to carry the journal with you throughout the day to make sure you accurately record all your meals. Like Wodify, the journal will not give nutritional information.

Our Recommendation: We recommend using a combination of MyFitnessPal and paper journaling when you’re starting out. If you’re not familiar with nutrition, you could be making poor eating decisions without even knowing it. You can either do this proactively or retroactively.

Proactive nutrition journaling: Proactively means that you look up the nutritional values before you decide what to eat.

  • Example: Imagine you go to lunch with your coworkers at Applebee’s, under the proactive method, you’ll look up the nutritional content of the salad you want to order on My Fitness Pal before ordering it and then make the decision to order or not right there. You then record what you decided to eat in your journal.
  • Benefits: The proactive method allows to make good food choices on the spot.
  • Downside: It can be time consuming and taxing to do this every time you eat. This can cause you to lose interest and stop journaling completely. Additionally, if you never take the time to reflect on your nutrition, you may never learn what to look for when making food decisions without the app.  
  • Our recommendation: Designate a time to reflect on meals either daily or weekly.  

Retroactive nutrition journaling (our preferred method): With the retroactive nutrition method, you just enter your foods as you would normally eat them and then at a designated time you look up their nutritional value. Then you use this information to make healthier choices going forward.

  • Example: Under the retroactive method, you order the salad as you would normally and then record it. Then you look up the nutritional value and assess whether next time you should order that particular dish later.
  • Benefit: This method allows you to really dive into your nutrition and really reflect on which foods are actually healthy and why. Eventually, you’ll know what to look for and may not have to continue consulting the app.
  • Downside: On the downside, you may eat foods that you would have avoided all together if you had known about their nutritional content.

Keys to Nutrition Journaling

Here are a few keys to nutrition journaling, you can also consult our sample here.

  1. Record Everything You Eat: From the tequila shots you had with friends, to the remaining food on your kid’s plate and the sauce you tasted to make sure you got it just right, WRITE IT DOWN. Nutrition Journaling is a method of data collection, and regardless of what’s going on in politics, data helps make better decisions.
  2. Record When You Eat: How often you eat and when is important information. It helps you assess what meal times improve or harm your workout performance. It can also help you plan ahead. For instance, if you know you usually eat every 3 hours and you know you’ll be on the road all afternoon, you’ll know to bring a snack or prepped meal. This will keep you from grabbing fast food.
  3. Reflect and Make Sustainable Changes: Be sure to routinely check your data and use it to make changes that you can stick with. Don’t just look at the data and determine that carbs are what’s keeping you from your goals and then eliminate them completely. There are very few of us who can actually go an entire lifetime without eating carbs. So if you eliminate them and then decide to eat a baked potato on date night, your body will not react well to that potato. Instead, try to incorporate better carbs like sweet potatoes, brown rice and quinoa.

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