Are you someone that would like to lose weight, but the idea of tracking your calories and macronutrients on apps like MyFitnessPal just puts you off and you don’t bother?
Being a sports nutritionist and having worked with both sides to tracking calories and macronutrients i.e. working with athletes who need to track calories to ensure that they are fuelling their bodies sufficiently in order to perform at their maximum capacity and recovery rapidly to keep up with their training schedule, all the way through to those that are wanting to lose weight(fat).
I personally understand the pros and cons to tracking calories and macronutrients (mainly the cons). I understand it is time consuming, restricting and a burden. HOWEVER, I also do believe that if you have never tracked calories before and have no idea of portion sizes then starting off your journey with 2-3 weeks of tracking and weight out certain foods that you might be shocked at the portion sizes, might be beneficial in creating a visual image that will help you not over consume and go off track from your goal and all your hard work. A lot of people at the beginning of their weight loss journey are so motivated and hit the gym and smash all their workouts but fail to see results, even if they are eating healthy (!!) and it is usually down to portion control.
Here’s an example:
As you can see by having 1 tbsp of peanut butter in your smoothies or on your breakfast could be a
lmost doubling your calories. Same with the portion of salmon you eat! You therefore over the day/week are going over your calories with foods that you thought were helping you towards your goals! This is where tracking might be useful for a couple of weeks to learn how to eyeball portion sizes and help you understand what is the actual serving size vs one that is way over.
Things like; breakfast cereal, oats, sauces/condiments and more are examples of things that will surprise you with their portion sizes.
That being said, you are able to see great improvements with your physique and fitness levels through non-tracking methods.
The basis of weight loss is simple, calories in have to be less than calories out. However, everyone that has tried this knows it’s not as simple to implement. The truth is that even careful calorie calculations don't always yield uniform results. How your body burns calories depends on a number of factors, including the type of food you eat, your body's metabolism, and even the type of organisms living in your gut. You can eat the ex
act same number of calories as someone else, yet have very different outcomes when it comes to your weight.
Here are some tips to losing weight without counting calories
1. Focus on whole food. This will help lower the number of calories consumed when you stick to whole foods such as, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, seafood, w
hole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds, as opposed to ultra-processed foods can help to organically reduce calorie intak
e without actually counting calories. Whole food are a lot more nutrient-dense and satiating than processed food which will reduce the ability to consume a large amount of food at each meal. Processed foods are made with added sugar, oils and chemicals which are sometimes classes as ‘empty calories’ as they leave you hungry 20-30 minutes later and therefore results in grazing and snacking a lot more!
2. Watch out for liquid calories! Especially if you are a coffee lover like me. One flat white is 200 calories, with 3 being 600 calories and equal to meal. Other things high in calories is alcohol, sports drinks and even those ‘healthier’ choices such as smoothies, juices or kombuchas. The carbohydrates (sugars) within these drinks will not provide you with the same fullness feeling as those in whole foods therefore you should acknowledge this and limit the number of calories you are consuming and focus on calorie-free.
3. Build you meal around protein. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient vs carbohydrates and fats. Consuming protein helps increase fullness, reduce hunger levels, support metabolic health, promote weight loss and help you reach your goals through muscle
growth. A lot of people do not consume enough protein and therefore by making it a mental challenge of building your plate around this macronutrient you are one step closer to ensuring your daily target is met!
4. Use high-volume foods: Linking to the focus of whole foods. Utilising fruit and vegetables in your diet alongside protein will help increase fullness. This will allow your brain to visually see large portion sies within the impact of high calories.
5. Be mindful of portion sizes: Food quantity still matters even if its high quality and whole. Be mindful that those healthier options (salads, smoothies, protein bars etc) might be hindering your goals IF you get them from the wrong place. Some salads can add up to 1000calories with dressing and so make sure that you are just making smart choices. Using your hand as a guide, a portion of protein = 1 palm, a portion of carbohydrates = 1 cupped hand, a portion of vegetables = 1 fist, and a portion of fat = 1 thumb. The reason this method is useful is that your hand size is proportionate to you; a 5’2 female
and 6’0 male will have different size hands yet proportionate to their body, making it a simple yet effective way to determine your personal portion size. Not to mention, the size of your hand never changes and it’s highly convenient because it travels with you wherever you go!