The headline alone already evokes a reluctant feeling doesn’t it? Tracking everything you eat and drink, counting every calorie, carrying your food scale to the restaurant? That sounds for most of us way over the top. You will quit before you even start. Nobody wants to dissect their food and measure it like a mad scientist. Isn’t food something to enjoy and not to worry about? Yes it is, so why do we still recommend it?
A numbers game
Fact is weight loss, weight gain or weight maintenance is a numbers game. And even though in reality its more complex than that, the energy balance equation (cal in – cal out) works quite accurate when it comes to controlling your weight.
This principle (of energy balance) is easy to understand, yet it might not be misleading if you are not aware or at least have an idea of how many calories during the day you are actually taking in.
The option to calorie tracking is "intuitive eating". This means you are not paying so much attention to objective numbers but more listening to your internal, subjective signals and adhere to behaviours that support your goal (often calorie restriction). This can work really well for some people, and there are definitely cases when this approach is a better choice and option. Like most things; it depends on the person and on the situation. But one thing is for certain, the best way to take away subjectivity from calorie intake is to track what you eat and drink. And this can be very effective to increase awareness and action - two of the most important factors of achieving a goal (along with accountability).
Are you looking to lose some body fat? Watch the 1-minute video below for a great summary of "How to eat for fat-loss"
Food tracking app
MyFitnessPal is the biggest app to count your calories. Due to its mighty library, the app recognizes thousands of specific dishes from all over the world and gives you an immediate estimate of calories as well as macro and micro nutrient content.
You will be surprised what numbers you will get when you track your food for one day. Numbers don’t lie. Here you have reality showing you if you are really on track achieving your weight goals.
The soft-tracking approach
Now, here is the thing: You do not have to track everything you eat 24/7, 7 days a week. We tend to have an all-or-nothing-mentality even when it comes to tracking calories, which can quickly lead to becoming slaves of our own process.
For an equation to work, you need to know its variables. Do they need to be 100 percent accurate and do I need those numbers every day to be successful in my diet? Probably not. Starting with tracking one day already gives a much better idea on where you at. From there, you can make better decisions.
This approach of tracking calories is also called "soft tracking". You can read more about this here.
First of all; know yourself. I you know from the start that tracking your calories won't be good for you - don't do it. It's not worth it.
But with this said - as long as you know that you can remain a healthy relationship towards calories and food - if you are currently not seeing results and if your goal is to eat better, lose some body fat or simply to understand your energy intake and needs better; we strongly suggest that you track your calories.
Even if it's just for a few days, some days or even some meals per week. You don't have to become a slave to the food scale and eat out of tupperware for the rest of your life. For most people, all that's needed for calorie tracking to be effective is often a simple reality-check, and this can put you on the right path towards your goal.
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Welcome to HAUS No3
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About the author
Lothar Markert is a German native, his mom is Korean, a former national team Taekwondo athlete and he has lived in Bangkok since 2017. He is currently the Operations Manager at HAUS No3 and the eminent host of the widely popular public speaking event HAUS Talks.
You can learn more about Lothar here.