Calorie counting, is it a necessity? Or can you just 'eat clean' and hope for the best? Well the answer is Yes and No.
You need to have some sort of idea about how many calories you're consuming on average per day. Most people have no idea how many calories they're consuming on a daily basis. The problem with this is that despite what you may think you may be eating too much, halting your fat loss progress. Or, you may be eating too little, which will damage your metabolism and force your body into starvation mode where it will hold on to it's fat supply.
Calories in vs calories out is the main driver for fat loss and fat gain so we need to have a good knowledge on the calories and portions we're dealing with on a daily basis. So the best advice I can offer you is too start a food diary for 1-2 weeks, I use an app called 'MyFitnessPal' which is a free easy to use app containing every food you can imagine on there to track your calories. If you don't want to use this app you can just write your food down manually. After 1-2 weeks you will be able to get an accurate account of how many calories your consuming and how much of each food group (carbohydrates, fat and protein) you're consuming. You can then analyse and make the changes you need to make. Maybe you need to eat more, or perhaps less, or maybe you need to eat more protein, it depends entirely on your goals. Once you've realised what changes you need to make, you can start to implement them. Track your calories for a further 1-2 weeks. After this period your eating patterns will start to become second nature to you and everything will start to remain consistent. It's at this point you can start tapering off your use of calorie counting, if you want. Some people don't mind counting the calories in the long run, others find it a chore and don't like obsessing over it. It's up to you, but at this point you can afford to stop counting as you would have implemented the changes needed and you will have a good account of what you should be eating and how much, it will have become an ingrained habit.
To conclude, it is important to calorie count, even if it is for a short while. Don't make the mistake of thinking 'well I'll just eat clean and that should work'. This is basically leaving your results down to chance because you could be eating too much or too little, you won't know. For example I've seen people follow the 'Paleo' diet where you don't eat carbohydrates and gain body fat as they perceived this to be a green light to eat as much as they want. Granted, it is far more difficult to over eat on chicken, sweet potato and vegetables as opposed to pizza, but the principle remains. It is possible. I’m not advocating that you always count calories, but once you’ve got a good understanding for your portion sizes, can eye ball food intake well, and have sufficient education – then you can push the weighing scales aside. I can bet that if you weigh 200g of chicken breast 7 days in a row, on the right day, you’ll know what 200g of chicken breast looks like without having to use the scales.
So there you have it, your results hang on you putting in some discipline, preparation and planning to give yourself a good understanding of what you're consuming.
PLANNING. PREPARATION. DISCIPLINE. The three key principles to success.
Until next week. Jamie