We all know that a calorie deficit is needed to lose weight, but is it a good idea to track your calories? I am currently not tracking my calories, but I did track vigorously for more than 6 months in the past, and in my case, it wasn’t the healthiest experience. I became obsessed, foods became numbers, and I tracked every morsel of food that went into my mouth. Before tracking, I would suggest ensuring that you have built a wholesome relationship with food. The best advice I was given is that ‘food is a fuel’, it isn’t the enemy so stop being afraid of it, instead use it to achieve your goal.
Do NOT track calories if you have/had an eating disorder or if you have an inclination towards it.
KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER
- It’s often hard to discern your exact caloric needs, which can affect tracking and your goals.
- Lower calories does not always mean weight/fat loss, undereating inhibits your goals.
- Studies show that it isn’t beneficial for women to decrease their calories below 1400.
- Calorie Trackers are often inaccurate.
- Even ‘healthy’ calories can lead to weight gain, if in a surplus.
- Everyone’s caloric needs are different!!
- Your body needs energy to burn energy.
- Instead of focusing on how many calories you burn in a workout, focus on how it makes you feel or you will never enjoy it.
- When tracking it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re eating less, which will also dampen your goal.
When Should I Track?
I believe that you can meet your goals without tracking, I started making progress and building muscle when I stopped worrying about the calories. However, it does matter where the calories are coming from. If you are just starting on your weight loss journey, I wouldn’t advise you to track but to replace processed, unhealthy foods with whole foods. If you are well advanced in your progress and you’ve hit a plateau then it might be beneficial to see where you are in your caloric intake.
If you must track, I’d suggest:
- Tracking simply once a week to see if you are still on course with your caloric needs.
- Avoid tracking throughout the day, instead do it at the end of the day.
- Don’t have cheat days, instead eat in moderation or follow the 80/20 rule, whereby 80% of your nutrition consists of healthy whole foods and 20% consists foods you love.
My perspective on losing weight or fat has shifted throughout the years. I’ve definitely made mistakes but they have led me to where I am right now. The biggest shift has been my mental health and overall happiness. I used to view my workouts with the idea of how many calories I would burn, but now I do it to gain strength. I no longer fear or ban foods, but sometimes we need help to view things that way. I had someone that triggered that shift for me and I hope I can help you in the same way. Thank you for reading, please like and leave a comment, xoxo.