I talk a lot about taking a non calorie counting approach to achieving your ideal body. I do believe knowing HOW to eat without relying on calorie counting is an essential part of solid nutrition.
However, calorie counting is not a bad thing. When used right it can be a useful tool in your journey.
There are a lot of different ways to use it – short term, long term, on occasions, for specific meals, for specific foods where portions are hard to eyeball, etc.
But I’d like to talk about how you should initially use it, because most people start off using it in a way that isn’t very effective.
The best process is…
Consistency ➡️ Quantify ➡️ Adjust
Going in that order is going to best enable you to utilize calorie counting. But most people start at the adjust stage.
They start off trying to figure out how many calories to eat based on a calorie calculator and then they just go.
Can that work? Yes. But usually that results in erratic eating and eventually resorting back to old eating habits.
So do this instead…
Get consistent with your eating first before ever counting a calorie. Form the basis of your eating framework. Because without consistency there is no success.
That means get to a point where your meals are satiating, satisfying, and mostly whole foods. Ensure your day to day eating is consistent. Weekends should look similar to your weekdays and there shouldn’t be a drastic difference in your food intake each day.
If there is then those struggles need to be worked on first, as restricting calories in that dysfunctional environment will just make the problems worse.
Once you have that consistency framework in place it’s time to quantify your consistency. In other words, you count how many calories you’re already eating when you’re being consistent.
You aren’t budgeting or restricting anything at this point. You’re just seeing how much you eat naturally when you’re consistent.
Now you know how much you’re eating when your eating is sustainable, and you can begin the adjustment process.
What is your weight/body doing at this calorie intake? Depending on your goals of losing weight, maintaining, or gaining, you can adjust your calories lower, higher, or keep them the same.
This entire process should take no more than 2 weeks assuming consistency is achieved – a very short period for getting the right start in your journey.