A huge issue that many people face when trying to lose weight is the effort it takes to track your calories.
Some folks believe it is simply too much or too difficult to begin tracking your daily caloric intake so they just guess.
If you’re one of these people and you’re losing weight and staying consistent then by all means keep doing what you’re doing.
However, if you’re guessing on your caloric intake and you’re not losing weight at a slow steady pace, then I encourage you to just try tracking your calories.
Like most things in life, it might be difficult tracking your calories for the first week, few weeks, or even the first month. But, as you learn what you’re doing and begin to understand the process better, you’ll be sure to start seeing results.
Not only will you begin seeing results, but tracking your calories will become easy for you.
In this article we’re going to break down why you should track your calories and how you should track your calories.
Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Why Should I Track My Calories?
If you’re a beginner to dieting, you will more likely than not struggle trying to figure out what it means to eat in a caloric deficit.
What is a caloric deficit?
A caloric deficit simply means taking in fewer calories than your body naturally uses in a day. By eating fewer calories than your body naturally needs in a day, you will be burning calories!
It’s definitely not rocket science to figure this out.
For example, if my body naturally burns around 2,000 calories in a day and I eat 2,200 calories, is this a calorie deficit?
Nope, your body only burned 2,000 calories, so I would have actually eaten in a caloric surplus of 200 calories.
What about if I eat 1,600 calories a day and my body’s natural rate of burning calories is 2,000 calories?
Then, you FINALLY DID IT! You ate in a caloric deficit and burned 400 extra calories.
Now add this up over a week, you will be burning fat and losing weight at a slow and steady pace! This is exactly what you want when dieting.
Let’s get to the point.
Do you have to track your calories to experience success on a diet?
If you’re experienced enough to make educated guesses on how many calories are in the foods you’re eating, then you don’t have to track them. You’ll know if you’re being accurate based on weight loss or weight gain over time.
However, if you’re new to dieting or one of those people that needs to know for a fact you’re dieting correctly, then track your calories. It’s not hard to do.
By tracking your calories you will be sure that you’re doing all that you can do help improve your physique.
Personally, I still track my calories to this day just to ensure that I’m doing getting close to my caloric goal. Sometimes it can be very tricky to guess exactly how much of a certain food you’re eating.
When I first started tracking my calories, I measured most foods but not all. I assumed that foods like ketchup, taco sauce, cheeses, etc. didn’t have to be tracked. Little did I know, over a weeks time of not tracking certain foods like this, I was not even close to hitting my goals.
Or, if I simply had a few chips multiple times a day and didn’t track it, this really added up over the week and didn’t help me reach my goals. Even if you’re just having half a cookie or a few chips, make it a habit to keep track of this.
By tracking your foods exactly, you will have an incredible amount of success on your weight loss journey. The best part; tracking your foods is NOT hard to do as long as you follow the tips below.
How Do You Track Calories?
Follow these tips to ensure you’re tracking your calories correctly and with ease.
1) Use a Fitness App
My first tip is to download some type of fitness or calorie tracking app on your phone.
The app that I use is myfitness pal.
This is a free app that you can download right from your phones app store.
How will this app help you?
This app will help you meet your caloric goals in a few ways.
First, if you’re unsure how to set the amount of calories you need to eat in a day to lose weight, it has custom features that set your caloric intake for you. Or, you can read my article here to set your macros using a more accurate calculation.
Either way, you can enter a certain number of calories as your daily goal in the app.
Myfitness pal is also helpful because it has a bar code scanner to allow you to scan your foods before you eat them! All you have to do is measure the amount of the food you’re eating, then scan the food package and enter the correct amount that you want to eat!
You will find that this app is extremely helpful as you start to explore its features!
2) Measure Your Food!
I’ve mentioned a few times that it is important to measure your food, but I haven’t explained how yet.
When you pair an app like myfitness pal with the properly measured food, YOU CANNOT FAIL!
To start, I want you to go out and buy a food scale.
Food scales are fairly cheap and you shouldn’t have a hard time finding one on Amazon or in store (Find listings here).
Now, check your food packages and look at how many grams or ounces each serving of food comes out to be.
For example, let’s say 4 oz of chicken is 120 calories.
What do you do?
Directions to using your food scale: Put a plate or bowl on your food scale, zero out the scale (so you don’t accidentally measure the dish) and simply add your food!
It is as simple as this!
Then using your app, scan the food packages bar code and enter 4 oz (if you measured out 4 oz).
I use a food scale for every single thing that enters my stomach.
It seriously is SO EASY!
Some folks become very intimidated when they hear they have to use a food scale but it takes almost no effort at all.
One of the best parts about using an app like myfitness pal, is that after measuring your food accurately and entering your food into the app, it will count down how many calories you have left to eat for each day, and even show your protein, carbs, and fats intake.
If you track all of the food that you eat and hit your caloric deficit, you will see results.
How Do You Know If It’s Working?
If you’ve successfully set up a caloric deficit for yourself, if you’re measuring out your food on a food scale, and if you’re tracking your calories using a fitness app, you should be experiencing success.
How do you know if its working?
How do you know if you’re eating the right amount of a calories and losing fat?
First but not most important, is to weigh yourself on a scale.
In order to weigh yourself properly, make sure to weigh yourself multiple times a week at the same time of day, without consuming liquids or foods, and without a bulk of clothing on.
Naturally, your weight will fluctuate day to day but by taking the average of how much you weighed throughout the week, you should have a good idea of how much you weight.
**Things to consider**
However, do consider that just because your weight went up on the scale does not mean that you gained fat. Muscle weights more than fat and you could have either put on muscle weight, drank a lot of water the day before, or even consumed a lot of sodium the day before.
Each of these could account for a spike in weight so don’t take it too hard!
2) Measure Yourself!
Secondly, you can track your progress by measuring yourself!
This might be one of the most accurate ways of tracking fat loss and all you need is measuring tape.
By measuring yourself, I mean using the measuring tape to measure the circumference of your belly at your belly button and at 1 inch above your belly button. By taking accurate measurements at least once a week you will be able to track your progress quite effectively over time.
You can use your fitness app to enter your measurement information so you can keep track! You can also do this with your weight!
Not only can you measure your belly for fat loss, but you can measure your chest, biceps, thighs and more to track muscle growth or decline.
Lastly, taking photos of yourself regularly is a great way to track your progress.
Not every one will be able to notice slight changes in your appearance over time but you know your body better than anyone else!
Take photos regularly and focus on the changes that you see. Hopefully they will be positive results and you’ll see fat loss where you need it!
Photos can also be tracked in your fitness app as to measure progress over time.
If you’re not yet experiencing any results and you’ve been hitting your caloric goals for 2-4 weeks, maybe it’s time to rethink your approach.
Perhaps you’re not tracking all of your foods, perhaps you didn’t set your caloric deficit properly.
If you’re not having any results, I recommend reaching out to me or a friend so you can talk through your strategy.
Get After It!
Why should I track calories?
There is no simple answer.
In fact, not every one needs to track their calories. If you’re experienced in fitness and nutrition and you’re having great results, it might not be necessary at all.
However, for beginners, I highly recommend tracking your calories to ensure results.
By now, you should have the proper knowledge to get started on your goal to fat loss.
Let’s recap on how to get started.
1) Download a fitness app and track your caloric intake
2) Buy a food scale and measure your foods accurately
3) Track your results
The keys to burning fat and reaching your physique goals are paired with using this information correctly and getting proper exercise!
Do you track your calories?
Is it working? Are you seeing results?
Comment below and let us know!
Thanks for reading,
Founder of https://myshakercup.com
I also believe in tracking body calories but truthfully the effort it takes to track your calories might be time consuming and technical. Therefore, one need to know the right way. Some folks believe it is simply too much or too difficult to begin tracking your daily caloric intake so they just guess. I once tried doing it but it turned out that I lose interest in it. But your post has revealed the best way to do it. Thanks
I'm not sure why so many people find it difficult because you're right it's not that hard! It helps you stay true to yourself and hold yourself accountable in reaching your goals.
Thank you for taking the time to comment.
I love my fitness pal. Have used it several times in the past. I'll be honest with you, having to weigh foods, not for me. I wish it could because I do need to lose weight.
About 2 months ago I just started eating smaller portions during my meal time. In time my tummy did shrink, and I have seen a weight reduction. I understand each person is different. And counting my calories, that I can do.
It was a very interesting article. Even checked out you macros article. I think it's time to download myfitnesspal app again. You can use it with your Fitbit app as well! It helped me to see that I'm hitting goals or not. I agree with you, an excellent app!Laura
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences!
You're a great example of someone who has had success in simply eating smaller portions and seeing results. This can be a great way to approach weight loss!
However, yes you are correct, counting your calories is very effective.
It's good to hear that you also have heard of and used myfitnesspal because it truly is an effective tool.
Thanks again for reaching out,
In my opinion, I think one should always track their calories even if you are seeing results on your dieting. Keeping track of your calories intake would always keep you in check as you would know exactly what to avoid so your dieting can proceed smoothly.
I do make use of a calories calculator. I can't remember the name but it is what I use in keeping track of the number of calories I take and it has been effective so far. I am able to better monitor my food intake which has helped me from putting a lot of junk food into my body.
I would absolutely agree with you.
Even if you are seeing results it is important to track your calories so you keep yourself in check. This is definitely a good life skill to have in order to live a healthy life.
Thanks for reaching out,