One of the first thing I will do with clients is get them to track their food intake for at least for a couple of weeks to see what sort of habits and trends they follow.
The app I use is My Fitness Pal, its free and easy to use. But this does not mean I feel its absolutely necessary to track calories for results.
Do Calories Matter?
Before we dive into tracking calories/macros. Lets answer the most basic question “do calories matter?” The cold hard truth is that they do matter. If you are in a calorie surplus this will lead to weight gain, if your in a calorie deficit this will lead to weight loss simple as that!
It really annoys me when paleo advocates say “you can eat as much as you want of this and not put on weight” So your telling me if you eat 5,000 kcal of nuts you wont put on weight? Ridiculous!
But again it all comes down to context.
Pros of Calorie Tracking
- How much you are Actually consuming – from personal experience its great for this as it let you know what food groups you maybe over eating or under eating
- Increase Nutrition Knowledge – Just by tracking food this can lead to better food choices and reduce over eating.
- Provides something to stick to – Gives people a goal to aim for. The more consistent you are with nutrition the better the results.
- Improve Body Composition – I believe that to improve body composition, tracking calories and macros is a must!
Cons of Calorie Tracking
- Unnecessary and hassle for people – Tracking calories is annoying and especially if you don’t have control of the food. For example when your on a night out.
- People become obsessed – Some people can let it take over their lives and they are weighing food and munching down a 1000 kcal at midnight to hit their goals.
- Can be used as an excuse to eat rubbish – Especially IIFYM people will tell themselves they can eat whatever they want as long as they are hitting their daily target.
- Loss of Focus on Food Quality – Some people will become solely focussed on the number. Still need to include fruit and vegetables.
Again not all these points will apply to everyone. If you are a family person who’s just focussed on health and well being, then just eat well exercise and be happy! Counting calories is going to be to0 much hassle!! But if you are a lean individual who is looking to get your body fat % into single digits and your sole focus is body composition. Then counting calories and keeping an eye on macros is essential!
From personal experience I have made huge gains in 6 weeks by consistently tracking my calories and macros.
But again just because its works for me doesn’t mean it will work for yourselves. CONTEXT IS KING!
Joe from SJ Fitness