Write it down. Log it. Keep track of what you eat. These are phrases you hear all the time. I admit to saying them once or twice myself. Why do you hear them so often when it comes to weight loss? Because it’s a proven technique for weight loss backed by research studies and real-life results. There’s a variation on this technique that is equally effective and gives you the added benefit of knowing what you are going to eat before you even sit down. It’s pre-logging your meals. Here’s why you should consider it and how to do it effectively.
I like the concept of pre-logging your meals because it takes the guesswork out of what’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks for the day. When I guessed what I was going to have, I often ate too much. Why? Because I made it up on the spur of the moment, and it often wasn’t the healthiest or lowest calorie choice I could make. I ended up overeating more often than I should have because of last-minute choices.
That’s a recipe for disaster right there.
Pre-logging your meals might feel like a pain or an unnecessary extra step, but it is neither. In fact, it takes a lot of the stress out of weight loss. Why? Because knowing what you are going to eat for the day when you get up in the morning is one less decision you have to make.
Here’s how to get started with logging your meals before you actually eat them.
First, decide whether you are going to pre-log your meals day by day or a week at a time. Initially, I recommend a daily approach. Each night before you go to bed, think through your upcoming day and decide what you will eat.
Second, write down your meals for the next day using your favorite method. It could be an old-fashioned notebook or an app on your phone. Calculate the calories and make tweaks so your calories line up with your personal goals.
Third, check your pre-logged meal planner app or notebook before you eat the next day. If you wrote down that you were going to have an egg white omelet for breakfast with some chopped vegetables, have that for breakfast. Repeat throughout the day.
At the end of the day, if you followed your pre-logged plan, you will have eaten just what you decided you would and no more or no less.
Here are some questions you may have about working with a pre-logged meal plan.
1. What if you are going out to eat?
In many cases, you know the day before if you are going out with friends or eating out for a work meeting. In the rare cases where eating out is truly unexpected, choose an entrée on the menu that closely matches the number of calories you initially intended to eat.
2. What if you eat something not on your pre-logged plan?
This is real life right here. Of course, you won’t always be able to follow your plan perfectly. If you add an extra snack, have two pieces of toast instead of one, or indulge in a dessert, add those calories to your food diary. No harm done.
3. How long should you pre-log your meals?
I say do it as long as it is working for you. As with many things in weight loss, what works for one person may or may not work for another. Give pre-logging your meals a try for a week and see what happens.
If you find it easier to stick to your allotted calories and eat a balanced diet when pre-logging, then do it for another week. The purpose of pre-logging your meals is to make your life easier and your weight loss permanent by establishing new habits.