In this article you‘ll learn does calorie counting works for weight loss. If so, how to do it PROPERLY for the most effective fat loss outcome
You know what? Screw that! Forget what you just read. I’ll just say how it is:
Calorie counting isn’t necessary to lose weight but… Yes, there’s a big hairy “BUT” lurking around the corner. It might be THE MOST effective way to drop that flab off your belly CONSISTENTLY.
Now let’s head back to that wishy-washy intro.
Welcome back my virtual reader friend (or welcome if you‘re fresh meat here). Let‘s be honest here, dieting to lose weight isn‘t just sunshine, unicorns, and rainbows.
Especially when you jump on yet another FAD diet (by now, you should know what I think about them…) that‘s destined to fail in the LONG RUN.
I’ll go out on a limb and guess that you might have already tried every FAD diet there is… You might have got some luck with it in the first 4-8 weeks. But then, inevitable happened – you stalled, you plateaued.
This happens every single time. E.V.E.R.Y. That’s where calorie counting comes in.
“Hey, Bro! Calories DON’T Matter!”
Image Source: imgflip
If you haven’t heard someone saying this, then when you do, here’s what you should do:
Smile, nod your head and walk backwards (SLOWLY!).
Calories DO matter! Calories Do exist!
Don’t believe me? Here’s what Steve Hall thinks about it.
“Should I count calories or just eat healthy?” – you ask Mike for advice.
Forget about Mike – “Mike” is the guy at your gym who says that calories don’t matter and that you simply need to eat healthy to lose weight.
Mike doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Ignore Mike.
As I said in 11 reasons you’re not losing weight article, no matter how healthy and organic you eat, calories are what matters at the end of the day (source).
I’m a big believer in calorie counting. I do think it’s the best thing you can do to speed up your fat loss journey. Learning how to track calories, macronutrients and portion sizes is the way to go for MOST people.
That being said, here’s when you might be better off without counting calories.
Why/When You Shouldn’t Count Calories
Counting calories can become an issue when you start doing it obsessively.
Believe me, I know this. I’ve been there…
When people try to get to the single body fat digits, they tend to get obsessed with hitting daily calorie target 100% to the tee.
Many times, for those people, food becomes just a numbers game. They lose touch with a good relationship with food.
“It’s all about hitting that 1872 calories, DUDE!”
Even worse, people go to extremes like eating complete junk. They justify it with the need to hit their calorie intake.
I’m talking about If It Fits Your Macros (I.I.F.Y.M.) eating technique. In short, it says that you can put down the hatch anything you like as long as you hit calorie and macros targets.
NOOO! Even if you count calories, you should still focus on eating whole foods most of the time.
Besides obsessiveness over numbers, here are some more cases when calorie counting isn’t necessary:
- You can already eyeball portion sizes CORRECTLY
- You have no problems to stop eating when you feel full
- You have up to 15 pounds to lose
- You’re not in a rush and fine with slower weight loss
If any of these cases don’t apply to you and you have little to no nutritional knowledge, you should consider counting calories.
Why You Should Count Calories
1. Calorie Counting Is The Quickest Way To Lose Weight
As I already mentioned, calorie counting is the quickest way to lose weight CONSISTENTLY. Tracking calories simply leaves no room for errors which would stall progress.
Calorie counting is like using a GPS…
Say you got a new job located in a place you’ve never been to.
Could you get there without using a GPS? Probably – but it’s going to take a lot longer, and you’ll likely end up making multiple wrong turns along the way.
But if you use a GPS, you’ll be able to get there on your first try because you can trust the GPS will get you there. Over time, you’ll be more familiar with the route, and you won’t need to rely as much on using the GPS.
The same is true for tracking your food and calorie intake.
2. You’ll Know What To Do In Case Of Plateau
Most people can lose some weight on any diet. Whether it’s keto, Atkins, low-carb, zone…
It’s all easy peasy in the first ~1-2 months.
The weight is going down. You’re happy. You smile like a Mongoloid because the diet seems to work to perfection (despite a couple of cravings…).
But then – PLATEAU!
Here’s where it gets tricky. It’s no walk in the park anymore…
This always happens when you follow one or the other diet and you’ve got no idea what to do next.
You can’t eat even healthier and you can’t cut more carbs because you already eat up to 50g of carbs a day…
What the HECK should you do???
This never happens when you track calorie intake.
Over time, you’ll lose weight, your metabolism will slow down and your weight loss will slow down.
But unlike with FAD diets, you’ll know exactly what to do – you simply drop calorie intake by ~200. You kick start weight loss and smile like a Mongoloid until the next time when weight loss slows down again.
3. Calorie Counting Isn’t Based On Restriction & Elimination
When the average Joe or Jane wants to lose weight, what’s one of the first things they do? They eliminate or restrict foods. Even if they love it. This never ends well… (source).
Eliminating foods you love from a diet always results in cravings, binge eating, and ruined relationship with food. That‘s why 69% of FAD diets fail. They aren‘t built for long-term success (source).
“Yo, Egis, calorie counting is based on restriction too. You restrict calories after all…“
I see your point, my virtual friend but every diet in the universe restricts calories.
Now, read this:
When you track calories, you can still eat ANYTHING you like. Carbs. Sugar. Chocolate. Oreos. Cheesecake. You name it! Just make sure to hit your daily calorie, protein, and fiber intake. When that‘s taken care of, eat whatever you wish.
This will never end with your face buried in a pie, a box of Oreos, or both.
4. Calorie Counting Improves Your Social Life
“Are you MAD, Egis?“
“Are you out of your mind?“
Hear me out.
Weighing and logging food teach you a better understanding of portion sizes. Most people overestimate their food intake by 47%! (source)
When you weigh food every single day, you learn how four ounces of nuts or beef looks like. Next time you‘re dining out, you‘ll make smarter decisions without ruining everything you‘ve worked for the whole week.
That‘s exactly what happens on, say low-carb, diet. You see this glorious cheesecake dessert (yummy!). Everyone around you enjoys it. But not you.
Until you give in…
Just for a teeny tiny piece. But then you think to yourself:
Oh, well…I already f*cked up today‘s diet. I might as well enjoy it“.
Next thing you know, you feast on every dessert you can get your hungry fingers on. The whole week‘s diet goes down the drain…
5. Calorie Counting Knowledge Stays For Life
If you haven‘t hang yourself from pure boredom yet, then here‘s the best part about calorie tracking:
Once you nail it, you won‘t need anyone‘s help to lose weight if you gain some.
Imagine yourself losing 30 pounds and then going to Hawai for a fancy-schmancy holiday. Cocktails, sweets, slothing around the beach make you gain 5 pounds.
You get back home. Sad. But not devastated.
Now instead of looking for the “latest“ diet to jump on, you open your food tracking app. You start tracking those suckers again the next day.
You already know what to do. 3 weeks and those unwanted 5 pounds vanish.
This stays FOR LIFE!
How To Get Started With Calorie Tracking
Here‘s what I think:
If I can lose that jelly jiggle of my belly eating foods I love, and the cost is an extra 10 minutes a day weighing out portions and dialing it into a food tracking app, so be it.
I‘m up for it!
If you’re like me and would rather stick hot needles in your eyes than eliminate foods you love, here‘s how to count calories in food.
Step Numero Uno – Find Your Calorie Intake
First, you need to find a calorie intake that‘s necessary to lose weight consistently.
There are gazillion and one calorie calculators out there but I find it to be highly incorrect.
Here‘s a better way that I use:
Multiply your GOAL body weight (in pounds) by:
- 11 – Mostly Sedentary (you sloth around most of the day)
- 12 – Somewhat Active (you spend a good chunk of your day standing or walking but it isn‘t physically demanding)
- 13 – Very Active (you‘re up on your feet most of the day and your job is physically demanding (construction worker))
In my case it would be 2,574 calories (198*13 = 2,574).
IMPORTANT: If you have more than 50 pounds to lose, set your GOAL body weight in 50-pound increments otherwise you‘ll have too few calories to fight cravings and hunger.
For instance, if you weigh 275 pounds and want to lose 100 pounds, start with a goal weight of 225 pounds.
If you are a weird geek like me, here’s an article by Revive Stronger about setting a calorie deficit.
Step Numero Dos – Get A Food Tracking App
Image Source: womansday
Honestly, I downloaded and deleted MyFitnessPal app ~3 times till my girlfriend showed a proper way to use it. Now I feel like Neo in the Matrix…
It’s so simple that it makes me wanna cry!
It literally takes 5-10 minutes a day to weigh and log everything when it clicks.
P.S. If you find that your weight isn’t moving down and start wondering why counting calories doesn’t work, you’re probably doing it wrong. You aren’t logging everything you eat.
If you find yourself falling off the wagon when on a FAD diet, and craving for ice cream in the late hours of the night, calorie tracking might be for you.
Just don’t get into a trap where all you care about is NUMBERS. It’s food! You still want to eat healthy foods most of the time.
If you’re like most people, then you might have a laundry of questions in regards to calories, macros and the right way to lose FAT.
That’s where my online coaching comes in. I’ll teach you everything you need to lose weight successfully, and most importantly, to keep it off for LIFE.
If you think you have crappy genetics, I tell you: SCREW YOU! You’ve no idea how many times I heard this. And yet, my clients managed to transform their lives with a couple of our simple strategies!
Certificate in strength and conditioning, 2014. Lithuanian Sports University, Lithuania
Athletic Training, 2013. Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Certificate IV in fitness, 2017. The Eagle Academy, Australia