Tracking calories is a tactic that is demonised by many. It is often seen as ‘too obsessive or ‘too much hassle’ and people often look for more simple ways of losing fat and changing their body shape. However, the reality is different from what people initially believe.
Many people have benefitted immensely from monitoring their calorie intake through apps such as MyFitnessPal or simply through writing in a daily journal, even after having suspicions about doing so beforehand. It has become a habit and something people integrate into their everyday life.
So, why is calorie tracking so effective? And how can integrating it into your routine benefit you and your goals?
The most important benefit of tracking calories is accuracy. Whether you use the nutritional information on the back of the packet or through MyFitnessPal, you are able to monitor how many calories you are consuming, which then gives you the most accurate feedback if you are sticking to your calorie intake.
Whilst you can make very good early progress from changing certain habits, such as exercise, food quality, and recover, you are going to get the best results if you accurately track your calorie intake, rather than playing a guessing game. The last thing you want to do is put an immense amount of effort into your training and not see results because you are consuming too many calories without realising.
One of the more underrated benefits of tracking calories is the knowledge it gives you on nutrition. Being aware of the calorie content of the foods you are consuming is one of the best things you can do to stay in shape. You will often be surprised at the nutritional information and calorie content of foods you consider to be ‘healthy’ and this could be the mistake that is preventing you from progressing. More nutritional knowledge allows other benefits to come into play, as explained below.
Allow You To Strategise
Another great benefit of tracking calories is that it allows you to strategise for events that may take your calorie intake overboard. Balancing social life with the tasks required for fat loss is one of the biggest issues people face on their journey, and it often comes from poor planning and preparation. However, by pulling your food back during the day and giving yourself more calories for that event, be it a restaurant meal or a night out, you can enjoy yourself and stay on track.
You can’t achieve this without knowing how many calories you are consuming in the first place, and this comes from calorie tracking. So, have a look at your food diary and strategise by seeing which foods you can pull back to accommodate something larger in the evening. You should aim to keep protein high and pull back on either carbs or fats, particularly if you are not training that day.
Gives You Control
Of all the words when it comes to nutrition and fat loss, control is probably the most important. Getting in shape is not about restricting yourself so much that your life becomes miserable, but at the same time, you must implement habits and disciplines for you to progress. So, it is about balance and control, and once you achieve this, the process becomes much more sustainable.
By improving your nutritional knowledge and being able to strategise for specific events, tracking calories gives that control that is so crucial. It also allows you to include foods that you enjoy having, which therefore reduces the chance of you needing a ‘cheat meal’ or going on a binge because you realise that it comes down to calories in versus calories out.
It Makes The Process Easier
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, tracking calories makes the process much easier. This is because you know exactly how much you are consuming on a daily basis, therefore relaxing your mind and allowing you to focus on the things you can control without second-guessing yourself. Whilst you may be intimidated and confused by the thought of doing this in the first two to three weeks, the reality is that things become a lot more manageable as you go along.
Very likely, you will have identified the foods that work best for you when it comes to your goals, enjoyment and what you are able to digest, and once you identify the calorie content, you will know this off by heart due to the number of times you consume these foods. This means that you will not have to continually journal your calorie intake for the day, which can make the process less tedious.
So, if you are concerned about the thought of tracking calories, the numerous ways that it benefits you and your journey should be able to ease your fears. These include accuracy, improved nutritional knowledge, allowing you to strategise, giving you control, and making the process easier. Getting in shape is all about finding and executing a plan that is effective and sustainable, and calorie tracking can help you to do that. Give it a try and reap the benefits from it.
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