The influence that our nutrition and diet play on athletic performance aren’t always as apparent as they should be, but it’s there, either pushing you along with more energy, faster recovery, and a stronger immune system, or it’s dragging you down, leaving you feeling haggard, tired, and sluggish.

In our battle to conquer our nutrition the easy way out is supplements. With pre-workouts, post-workouts, intra-workouts, and every sort of pill and powder imaginable designed to help cure all of our nutritional woes we hit them hard.

But in reality, eating clean will do more for you than all of the nutritional supplements in the world. And the first step in cleaning up your nutrition is starting a food journal.

Here’s why.

1. You’ll connect nutrition to performance. We all know that we should be eating well. That we can be eating better. But how many of us actually stick to these lofty ambitions consistently? Part of the reason we are undisciplined in our approach is that we don’t truly connect our nutrition and performance. Writing out your meals in a food diary, as well as your subsequent workout routines, will leave you with a clear A-B connection between what you eat, and how well (or not) your workouts go.

2. You’ll get a healthy dose of accountability with your nutrition. For far too many of us we eat what we feel like, and not according to what we need in order to perform like champions in the gym, in the weight room, or in the pool. Instead, we eat according to our cravings, which you know, and I know, are not to be trusted. Having to write out your meals in a food journal means you get honest about what you are shoveling into your mouth on the regular. You might be surprised to see that you are not eating nearly as well as you thought, or that you aren’t drinking enough water (as athletes are rarely properly hydrated), or that you aren’t even hitting your daily allotment of supplements. Writing out your nutrition will force you to come to terms with what you are actually eating, which is essential if you want to maximize nutrition for performance.

3. You’ll stick to the plan for longer. Whether your goal is to lose some weight, gain some weight, or maintain, regularly using a food journal will help keep you on track. Research performed by Kaiser Permanente found that those who kept track of their nutrition lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t use a log. Self-monitoring has been shown over and over again to boost adherence, so spend a few extra minutes a day writing out your meals, and you’ll find yourself more consistent with your nutrition, and your performance on the field.

The Food Journal: Your Secret Weapon for Athletic Success

It’s funny how often I hear from athletes, young and old, who feel like they are doing all that they can in order to be successful in the water. They stretch religiously. Hit the foam roller after all their hard workouts. Even write out their workouts in a training journal. But when asked to show how well they truly eat, I tend to get sheepish smiles.

The food journal is cheap, takes a minimal amount of effort, and will produce a disproportionate amount of benefit on your performance for the time required to keep one.

 

Start by sitting down with a pen and paper after your next meal and food journal your way to better workouts, a healthier lifestyle (heard that’s always good to have!), and more energy.