Want better, more consistent results along your fitness journey? Then tracking your caloric intake is the way to go!
In a blog post entitled, “Calories In Vs. Calories Out”, I detailed calorie basics and how they affect your body. Check it out before reading this post!
I mentioned in an earlier post that I eat the same meals, at the same times, Monday-Friday. All calories have been calculated before I shovel it down in 2.5 seconds or less!
Tracking calories has done two things for me:
- I’ve become self-aware of how my body reacts to certain types and proportions of foods.
- If results aren’t showing, then I either adjusted my nutrition plan (usually the case) or workout routine.
In this week’s post, I’ll go over several tips that’ll make tracking calories easy peasy!
Before You Begin
There’s really no point of tracking calories if you have no idea what your maintenance caloric intake is. Well what the hell is that?
Your maintenance caloric intake is the number of daily calories needed to keep you at your current body weight!
There are plenty of online tools and phone apps that have free Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) calculators. For this post, I’ll use the calculator on myTDEE.com as an example. It’s extremely easy and straight forward to use!
First, enter your gender, age, height, weight, exercise amount as seen below (F.Y.I. if you have a desk job or sit majority of the day, go ahead and put “sedentary” as your exercise amount):
Press “Calculate TDEE” and it’ll spit out your BMR (calories needed to maintain your current weight if you do not move all day; A.K.A not useful) and your TDEE. My TDEE is 2293 calories! This is the number of calories needed to maintain my current weight of 175 lbs. If you want to gain or lose weight, just increase or decrease your caloric intake around your TDEE (pending everything else in your life remains the same)!
Now that we have our baseline maintenance caloric intake (your TDEE value), let’s look at tools for tracking calories!
Tools For Tracking Calories
Modern technology has made tracking calories much more feasible. Before the rise of computers and cellphones, one would have to weigh all their food, convert to calories, and then record information in a notebook to track and carry around all day. Sounds like a whole lot of work!
Nowadays, all tracking, weighing, simple math, and organization can be done in your smart phones! All you have to do is submit the food you’ve eaten and the serving size of your meals throughout your day into a phone app.
For example, I’ll use MyFitnessPal (definitely one of the most popular apps used to monitor food consumption). I’ll show how using this app is done! Below is my everyday breakfast and how it looks when tracked in MyFitnessPal:
Most foods’ caloric quantity, whether from restaurants, grocery stores, raw, or cooked, are available in MyFitnessPal! Do this for all meals and use your maintenance calorie intake value to obtain the results you want!
If you want to get more in-depth and precise with MyFitnessPal, you can enter how many calories you want to consume daily, and it’ll let you know how many calories remain for that day! Also, this app breaks down calories into a macro-nutrient overview if desired (i.e. fats, carbohydrates, and protein)! Super easy and efficient!
Essential Quick Tips
People don’t seem to realize how many liquid calories they consume. The downfall of tracking liquid calories is that it’s very tedious and time-consuming since most people are constantly drinking something containing calories. For example, one soda or Gatorade bottle contains between 150-200 calories per serving!!! This adds up quickly. Use your calories on nutritious, volume packed foods instead of liquid calories!
Tip #1: Drink water or low-calorie drinks to avoid having to track liquid calories.
It’s funny watching people order a perfectly normal, healthy green salad, then douse the entire thing in two pounds of ranch dressing. Honestly, you might as well have a Big Mac. Avoid high fat and sugar laden condiments like ranch, ketchup, or mayonnaise! Just like liquid calories, tracking calories from condiments or sauces causes more headache. My go-to condiments are low-calorie hot sauces, soy sauces, siracha sauces (not mayo siracha), and sugar-free organic ketchup!
Tip #2: Use low-calorie condiments/sauces to avoid tracking these calories.
Most people should eat plenty of green vegetables in their daily meals for overall health. The greatest benefit of green veggies is that they pack plenty of micro-nutrients without being high in calories! Green veggies are low in calories (i.e. you can ignore tracking them)! For example, 1 cup of green beans is only 31 calories and 1 serving of broccoli is 50 calories. Five cups of green beans or three servings of broccoli equals our one soda or Gatorade bottle from above!!!!!
Tip #3: Ignore green vegetables when tracking calories.
Seems like a lot of work doesn’t it? Put in the work, and you’ll get the results you want!
Once you consistently monitor your daily caloric intake for quite a while, it becomes routine in your day-to-day life! Also, you’ll learn a few things along the way! You will become familiar with how you body works and understand how food effects it. You also become very aware of portion sizing and what is and isn’t healthy.
Hope you enjoyed this week’s post! For any questions about this topic, feel free to reach out to me via firstname.lastname@example.org or any of my social media platforms. Don’t forget to like, comment, share, or subscribe!
“Eat right, exercise, and you’ll get there.”
Book of the Month: “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl