When training people and offering nutritional advice they can normally be split into two camps. Those that want to track calories and those that don’t!
For both camps I educate on which foods to eat, which to reduce, portion control, lists of good food options that are nutrient dense to choose from, lifestyle changes to help them perform as optimally as possible as well as structuring the right training programme to compliment all these aspects.
A lot of the time ‘mindful eating’ and not tracking calories fails. This is due to the person not understanding portion control well enough, not prepared to be accountable for what they eat, excuses range from not having the time to add the food to MyFitnessPal (even though there is always time to check social media!) to a genuine dislike of using an App to record data.
A few rules to go by (Via @Cartergood) if not tracking Calories:
- Its ok to have an ‘unhealthy’ meal just try not to miss a healthy meal twice
- Limit yourself to one plate of food if you are at a party or buffet
- When in doubt eat lean protein and veggies
- Stick to 3-4 bigger meals, and if you do snack, opt for fruit or protein
I totally understand if people do not want to track calories to start off with, but if results are not forthcoming its time to focus in and start tracking, at least for 2-3 weeks to see just how much or little one is consuming.
Those that do track generally use MyFitnessPal , there are others out there that will work out your calories and they will mostly all come back with different figures. Therefore it is only a guide, you need to be the detective, take ownership and find out roughly where your maintenance calories are.
After this it doesn’t need to be difficult, setting a deficit if you want to lose weight and using those calories as your target, after that set your protein, this can be anywhere from 1.5-2g/kg/day. Then you have the remainder of calories from Carbs or Fat, for me personally I ask what the client prefers and set that one higher, it doesn’t really matter as long as Protein is met and you are still in a calorie deficit. I also wouldn’t lose any sleep if you are 10-20g either side of your targets as long as Calories are in check.
Once you get all this in check and understand the fundamentals more then you can stop counting calories, lets be honest nobody wants to be inputting into MyFitnessPal for the rest of their lives, It is just a tool to help with your awareness of energy in/energy out, macronutrients and nutritional info of food.
In a Nutshell
- Hit Calories first (below maintenance)
- then Protein
- with the remainder coming from 80 % whole, nutrient dense foods
- Lift Weights!