One of the first things I do with new clients, particularly those who want to lose weight, is teach them how to start tracking calories. At first this may seem like a daunting task, but with today’s technology and the fact that every food we buy from the supermarket has its nutritional values detailed, it’s actually really easy.
What Are Calories?
A calorie is a unit of energy and the amount you consume and burn will determine whether you lose, maintain or gain weight. One gram of fat contains nine calories, while a gram of either a carbohydrate or protein contains four calories. Alcohol contains seven calories per gram. While counting your total calories can be a relatively simple task, it becomes a little trickier when trying to get your macronutrient (carbs, fats & protein) numbers on point. This is something that gets easier with practice.
Why Should I Track My Intake
If your goal is to change your body composition in some way, either by building muscle or burning fat, it is essential to know how many calories you need to be consuming to achieve that or it may never happen. You will also need to try and get the correct amount of each macronutrient (carbs, fats & proteins).
How Many Calories Should I Be Consuming
The number of calories you should be taking in depends on what you are trying to achieve. For example, if you are trying to lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit, so if you require 2500 calories to maintain your current weight you will need to consume less than this consistently in order to lose weight.
These calculators are a good place to start but it’s only by accurately tracking your calories and doing regular weigh ins that you’ll be able to get it spot on.
How Do You Count Calories
The most convenient way to track your calories is by using the app MyFitnessPal, there are some similar apps but from my experience this one is the best. Tracking does require you to scan barcodes, weigh out your foods and occasionally estimate, which you’ll be able to do when you gain some experience.
MyFitnessPal will save your foods so you won’t need to scan them every time and it will also keep you on track with reminders. It also lets you set your macronutrients so you can see which foods work and which do not!
What If I Am Eating Out
Occasionally you will have to estimate your calories. This is your only choice when you are eating out somewhere that doesn’t put the calories on the menu. If you’re new to counting calories this will probably be an impossible task, but once you have gained some experience counting and weighing foods you’ll be able to estimate with decent accuracy, although it’s never going to be perfect.
It is for this reason that I recommend my clients eat at places that have the calories on the menu as much as possible, and there are a few places in Northampton where you can do this, off the top of my head they are
Eating out does normally mean more fats, more sodium and less of the good stuff so I do recommend making your own meals at home at much as possible. It is a lot healthier and normally works out a lot cheaper too.