So you might be here because you are looking to lose weight and calorie counting is a helpful way to make this a possibility.
You may or not be already eating healthy and well but despite all the best intentions it still just isn’t working out for you.
That scale just isn’t budging and the progress you dreamed about isn’t happening.
But maybe you are just missing out one key process to ensure you are losing weight, you know creating that calorie deficit. Now don’t let the jargon scare you off, this is quite simply being in a state of burning more calories than we consume.
So why not try calorie counting? Maybe you already are but let us go over some several key concepts to ensure that you do it effectively and efficiently, yeah?!
Because it so so easy to screw up and hey look, there is an incredibly crafted video to walk you through it step by step.
Step 1 – Set Your Goals
So the first step is to figure out how many calories you need to lose weight, you can do that by clicking here.
Or alternatively, use the infographic below to quickly figure it out.
And if the maths puts you off from either the article or the infographic then go here to have it all worked out for you.
…..before we move on, lets set some realistic targets of only losing 0.5 – 1.5 % of your bodyweight per week, this is a GREAT rate of progress.
This may only be a 0.75lb – 2.25lb loss per week and this really does depend on the extent of how big your calorie deficit is.
So now you’ve set your customised goals and if you already have experience with MyFitnessPal then they usually do this for you when you set up a new account.
Now the is key to completely avoid whatever it churns out for you and instead listen to your trusty expert Sean Armstrong.
Put it simply, their guidelines are rubbish as they tend to advocate low protein diets, more moderate to high protein diets have been shown to be a super component of a successful weight loss and weight maintenance program.
Step 2 – Set Up How Many Meals
So one of the next things we can do is set up how many meals we have per day to log stuff into.
Now I’d recommend anywhere from 2-4 meals per day for most.
Why? Because anymore than that will likely leave you with the smallest meals ever that will do nothing to control your hunger and appetite and for me personally, I like less frequent but bigger meals so I can live my life and be satisfied at meal time.
And before you sit and question this thought, what matters most to losing weight and fat is how much you eat over the day, the week, the month (in calories). Seriously.
It isn’t the fact that you don’t eat 6 small meals per day to boost your metabolism, that doesn’t happen or it certainly doesn’t work like that.
Step 3 – Tracking Food Accurately
I am terrible for this so don’t be like me. It is an easy thing to do and research has shown that people can missreport their food intake by nearly 50%, so that 1300 calories you claim to be consuming may actually be more like 1950 calories. OUCH!
And before you think nope not me, well even nutritionists have been shown to misreport their food intake by 20%. Even ‘professionals’ aren’t the best at doing this.
So how do we do a better job at tracking our food intake?
1. Weigh food raw.
2. If you make Chicken Curry, don’t search for ‘Chicken Curry’ in MyFitnessPal, input the seperate ingredients. Not all ‘Chicken Curry’ is identical and can be vastly different.
3. Don’t forget oils, butters, milk and drinks (this includes alcholol).
4. Try and use verified entries with the green tick, or search for ‘USDA [insert food]’
5. If you use a certain brand then search for that as between brands and labels there can be differences between nutritional values.
Step 4 – Use The Barcode Scanner
One of the great things about MyFitnessPal is that it has a barcode scanner, so if you are out and about (or at home if that is your thing of course) you can use your phone camera to scan the barcode of food products for quick and easy tracking.
Again though if you are going to use make sure the serving size that you are entering is an accurate representation of what you consume.
Step 5 – Tracking Foods Without A Label
So some foods won’t have a label like fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only that but when we eat out, nutritional information may not exist.
Fortunately for us many chain restaurants have their nutritional information on their website and on MyFitnessPal (I will show you what to do if not though).
Anyway for the foods that don’t have a label, go back to Step 3 of tracking accurately.
Search for ‘USDA [insert food]’ and hey presto, you will have an accurate representation of that food.
Although I will say this….frozen fruits and vegetables are cheaper, last longer and do have barcodes on them (get some to make the whole dieting process ‘easier’).
Step 6 – How To Track When Eating Out
So as mentioned before many chain restaurants will have their nutritional information available to you on their and/or MyFitnessPal.
But unfortunately this is not the case for non-restaurant chains, so how do we navigate around that?
Well we do our best to guesstimate….
1. Track each individual ingredient and guess the size.
2. Do not just search for Ceaser Salad because you will end up with entries from 119 calories all the way up to 830 calories.
3. I’d probably add a tablespoon of oil because restaurants love cooking or adding oil!
What you have in front of you will not be a representation of other cesear salads.
And listen you won’t be bang on the money and even if you are by 20%, that wouldn’t mess up your diet for the week.
As an example, if you tracked 1000kcal and it was really 1200kcal then an extra 200kcal for the week wouldn’t sap your progress.
Just aim to be good enough, not perfect.
Step 7 – Copy Meals From Another Day
Most of us eat similarly day to day (well I do) and I suppose this is heightend if we do some food prep.
One of the great things about MyFitnessPal is that it is already quick and easy to use but it gets even quicker, you have multiple options to make this so.
As you can see I have the option to swipe right to copy what I had for breakfast the day previously into todays food diary.
Or alternatively we can ‘Copy From Date’, this allows us to select a date and select the meal we had on a particular day to then be logged for today.
And lastly when we go to ‘Add Food’ we have a ‘Recent’ and ‘Frequent’ column for each individual meal, making our regular and most recent choices right there to log.
Step 8 – Using URLs For A Recipe
So some of you might be thinking ‘what the hell is an URL?!’, well my friend it is just a web address.
And fortunately for us it can be quite handy to enter recipes we are wanting to use into our MyFitnessPal.
Using this means that when we see a recipe on a webpage we like, we can enter the URL into the ‘Recipe name or URL’ box.
So now we don’t have to enter the ingredients manually.
Warning: Sometimes this can go funky and MyFitnessPal puts in some inaccurate entries like using cooked weights of food rather than raw, which can severely mess up the accuracy when it comes to tracking.
Listen up folks whilst I wrap this up, tracking your food intake is one of the best ways to getting results.
Because it gives you awareness on just how much you are really eating. Just eating ‘healthy’ does not immediately mean you will be successful with weight loss or get the results you are after.
And if you think this is time consuming, it really isn’t. Tracking your food intake should only take up 5 minutes of your time per day (IF THAT!), this is only 0.3% of your day.
If you complain about not getting the results you want but aren’t willing to put in such little time and effort then we have bigger fish to fry.
I’m not saying calorie counting is perfect or is the only way to do it but my god it is a helpful tool for the majority of people if used correctly.
And listen, don’t be the person who only tracks when everything is perfect. Just be good enough every single day and be honest with yourself.
Because it will show you where you are going wrong and where to make improvements and it means you can’t kid yourself later down the line when everything looks hunky dorey (because you’ve forgotten) yet you haven’t seen the progress you expected.
And finally, if you are going out for food or drinks, plan ahead, save some calories by limiting carbohydrate and fat based foods (chicken, egg whites and vegetables for the win).
If you cock up, just minimise the damage and get right back on track the following day.
If you do this right, you will see the rewards.
Any comments, just pop them below 😊