Calorie counting gets a bad rap. I definitely don't think calorie or macro counting is sustainable or mentally healthy to do forever. However, it IS going to be the most accurate and effective way to lose bodyfat because you can ensure you're in a calorie deficit. I do track my calories and macros when I'm trying to cut fat, and use the flexible "if it fits your macros" approach for my clients who want to shed fat. This approach also helps you fit in treats and not feel too restricted.
HOWEVER, macro/calorie tracking is not for everyone and there are ways to lose fat without doing it.
SO - WHEN SHOULD YOU SHOULD CONSIDER TRACKING YOUR CALORIES / MACROS?
1. IF you’re struggling to lose weight even though you feel like you’re eating “healthy” all the time: If you're not losing weight you are eating more calories than you need to be for fat loss. Tracking for a week or so can help you understand how much you’re actually eating. You might be surprised at what you find!
2. IF you don’t know how much you “should” eat: Honestly, most of us don’t know how many calories we “should” eat in order to maintain our weight. We intuitively eat more that, slowly making us gain weight over time. Our bodies are programmed to do this! Tracking for even just a week or so can help you get an understanding of how much you’re eating now and what it feels like to eat around your maintenance levels. THEN, you will be able to actually eat intuitively once you know what that feels like.
(PS - If you don't know how many calories you "should" eat, definitely watch this YouTube video I just made answering this question).
3. IF you want to lose only fat, and keep your muscle (aka get more toned): You will need to make sure you’re eating enough protein to do this. If you don’t know what "enough” protein means or feels like for you and your body, counting your intake at least for a little bit can help you understand that.
4. IF your body signals are out of whack + you have random cravings all the time: If you have random cravings for cheese at 2am, your body might not be getting the right amount of food or nutrients. Tracking your food even just for a week can educate you a lot about portion sizing and the right amount of food for your body which can prevent cravings
5. If you eat out a lot and want to know how to “fit things in” without getting fat: If you’re traveling a lot, on the go, and don’t have a predictable diet, tracking your macros can hep you make sure you’re still in a calorie deficit + shedding fat with whatever you’re eating.
REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT track your macros:
1. IF you’re just starting this whole “healthy eating” journey: If you’re at point A right now, start small. Replace the chips, cookies, candy, with veggies, fruit, water. Once you’re in a habit of making healthier choices most of the time, then you can try tracking macros to take things to the next level.
2. You’ve done it before and are able to eyeball portion sizes easily, and eat intuitively: If you’ve tried it before, and feel like now you have a good handle on portion sizes/ how to eat intuitively for your body there’s absolutely no reason to track your macros forever. Calorie tracking can help educate you and get you started / accelerate fat loss, but it’s definitely not sustainable to do it forever.
3. You’ve struggled from eating disorders: Macro tracking may trigger neuroticism / obsessing over numbers all the time, which can be triggering if you’ve had an eating disorder before. I personally struggled from several eating disorders in my life time (anorexia , bulimia) so stayed away from tracking macros for a while. However, now I have a MUCH better relationship with food I am able to see macro tracking as a helpful tool without stress and obsession.
I use MyFitnessPal to track my macros. If you’ve never done it before I have found that you can learn a ton just from tracking your intake even just for one week.
You can get your estimated calories/ macros from an online calculator such as IIFYM. However NO CALCULATOR is going to be 100% accurate because all our bodies are different. With my clients we have a 2 week trial period on your estimated macros to see how your body reacts and we adjust up or down based on that to make sure you shed fat while keeping muscle, to get you looking sexy + toned.
Want to SHED FAT + TONE UP before summer WITHOUT your life being too restrictive? Apply for 1:1 nutrition coaching with me now.