Layne Norton, Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences, once wrote: 

In my opinion, tracking your food intake is probably the best thing you can do for your nutrition knowledge. You’ll never learn more about nutrition than you do simply by tracking and understanding what’s in your food .Layne Norton on calorie counting.

For chrissakes, that sounds cool. And I share the same opinion. But what if…

You tried counting calories and it was too complicated, stressful, and time-consuming? What if you felt like giving yourself brain surgery with a jackhammer would be more enjoyable than counting calories?

That’s because you did it wrong.

The traditional way to tracking calories and macros is to hit specific daily targets. Like so: 

The traditional way to count calories

The problem with this approach is that it can create a perfectionist mindset—if you don’t hit those targets to the tee, you feel like you’ve failed. Which then can lead to eating more food than some Cambodian villagers eat in a lifetime. ‘Cuz, you know, what the hell, you’ve already ruined your diet for the day anyway.

So let’s simplify calorie and macro tracking so that you could have an easier time losing weight:

Further Reading: Should You Count These Motherfucking Calories Or Nah

1. Stop Tracking All Three Macronutrients


Stop tracking carbohydrates and fats. Instead, focus on calories and protein only.

Yes, I’m fully aware that some ​​undereducated keto shitkicker zealot may have told you something along these lines: 

As Bill Bryson would say, I assume he was descended from the apes like all the rest of us, but clearly, in his case, it had been a fairly gentle slope because…

If you look at properly carried out studies—calories equated between low carb and high carb groups—you’d see no significant difference in weight loss. That’s exactly what this meta-analysis found: 

*Meta-analysis is an unbiased review of a number of independent studies of the same topic to determine overall trends and averages.

Meta-analysis of varying carb to fat ratios for weight loss

As long as you don’t intentionally go crazy low in carb and/or fat intake, they will take care of themselves. You’re going to lose weight just fine (unless you have a medical reason to monitor carb or fat intake).

So from now on, you’re going to track calories (because no diet has been shown to induce weight loss unless it makes you burn more calories than you consume) and protein (because it preserves lean muscle tissue while in a calorie deficit).

Further Reading: What’s the Best Macro Ratio for Fat Loss?

2. Stop Setting Exact Calorie And Protein Targets


As I said before, having a fixed calorie and protein targets can lead to a perfectionist mindset. We don’t want that. Perfection screws up consistency. So instead of this: 

The traditional way to count calories and macros

You’ll set flexible calorie and protein ranges: 

The better way to count calories and macros
The numbers are just examples

As Carter Good once said: 

Eliminating the need to be perfect (with your calorie and macros) leads to less guilt, and less guilt leads to more confidence, and more confidence leads to more consistency. Carter Good on calorie counting:

You don’t have to eat the same number of calories every day. Multiply your goal body weight in pounds by 11 if you get less than 8,000 steps a day. By 12 if you get more. (If you have more than 50 pounds to lose, use 50-pound increments.)

Then stay within 100 calories of the number you get. That’s your calorie deficit range. 

And when it comes to protein, multiply your goal body weight in pounds by 0.73-1 (that’s if you strength train). That’s your protein range. 

So…

This is how you used to count calories: 

The traditional way to track calories and macros

And this is how you’re going to do it from now on:

The new way to track calories and macros

Doesn’t that look better, less time-consuming, and less stressful? Do I hear a chorus of “Shit, yea’s” out there?

So, em, take care, till we talk again. May the forces of fat cells become confused on the way to your hips. 


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Originally published by me on Medium on August 25, 2021

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