In truth, YES. But also… No.
Let’s get to the bottom of this confusing, possibly necessary inconvenience in as little words as possible:
–Yes, how many calories you eat matters. Consuming too much is unhealthy (to put it extremely simply); consuming too little is equally as unhealthy (but in a different way).
–No, you don’t necessarily have to count them *IF* your diet is based in whole foods without excessive sugar, processed foods, oils, or alcohol, and you drink enough water.
What you have to accept: Whole foods don’t come in boxes or bags; eating out will almost always give you more calories than you think, more sugar, more gluten, and more taste-amplifiers than you realize. EATING IN and COOKING AT HOME is the BEST, most HEALTHY way to eat your food. (Thankfully, there are companies, like Lyfestyle Meals, that help with meal-prep if you don’t have time to do it yourself.)
Very few people actually enjoy the process of calorie counting. What they DO enjoy is achieving goals and proving to themselves that they can be disciplined enough to get there despite society telling them to always indulge. BUT! Calorie counting and Macro counting can become VERY tedious.
HERE’S WHERE TO START on Calorie Counting for weight loss:
- Food Journal. Yep, sucks; sorry. Get over it, and get it done. You cannot make progress without first knowing where you are. You might not have to journal forever, but do it for at least 1-2 weeks to see how many calories you actually eat.
- Determine your recommended daily calorie intake based on maintenance (you can find these on Cronometer and MyFitnessPal and other websites).
- HEALTHY weight loss is ONLY 0.5-2lbs/week. This is achieved by a 250-1000 daily calorie deficit from your maintenance calories (see why you need to know where you are? If you don’t know, you can’t know how to adjust for your goals). Keep in mind, YOU MUST NOT GO BELOW 1200 CALORIES WITHOUT A DOCTOR’S SUPERVISION! This is EXTREMELY unhealthy! And, if you’re working out (which you should be), your body needs calories (and carbs!) to have the energy for those workouts. This process is about achieving optimal health, which for many includes weight loss, but weight loss itself is not and should not be the only goal or priority. You must be able to ENJOY life and LIVE it, not just sit miserably, lethargic, and hungry. **NOTE** We strongly recommend going with a 0.5-1lb weekly weight-loss, not the 1.5-2lbs. Eliminating 250-500 daily calories is challenging enough as it is. So you have a choice: do you want to reach your goals and still enjoy life and the process, or do you want to be miserable and hate it? We vote JOY! Plus, the more you enjoy something, the more apt you are to be CONSISTENT, which is key to success.
- Don’t bother with Macro counting until you are about 10lbs away from your goal or you want to bulk/cut/modifiy your body composition but not necessarily your weight. It is VERY tedious, and usually more involved than basic calorie-counting.
- Last but not least: Focus on WHOLE foods and 100z of water, and calorie restricting almost takes care of itself! Whole foods include meats, beans, grains like rice/quinoa/oatmeal (not wheat/gluten!), VEGETABLES, fruits, and water. Anything that comes in a box or the aisle is likely not a whole food. Some are, most aren’t. Best to steer clear. If you’ve been truly eating whole foods (as pictured above), success is imminent! Your plate should be 50% vegetables, 25% protein, and 25% carbs. Do it this way, and it’s a lot less headache.
- BE PATIENT and PERSISTENT. Success comes from frequency and consistency.
- Hit us up. The above can be very confusing, and we can help. Hopefully this gets you on the right track. If you plateau (progress stalls), a small tweak in your diet and activity can get you restarted.
You CAN achieve your goals. It starts with realizing that you WILL have to change in order to create change. C-FIT can help create your plan and will cheer you on the way and guide you out of the brambles, but it is you, my dear friends, who much work the plan.
You got this. You are not alone.