So, I don’t usually do this, but my girlfriend recently got the FitBit App for her iPhone. Seemed pretty cool. You put in your weight goals and such, and you can log your food to check the amount of calories you take in every day compared to how much you need to hit your goals in a timely manner.
Here’s my problem with this, and it’s not just FitBit, there are undoubtedly hundreds of similar technologies out there that do the same thing and then some.
Calorie Counting: For the big picture, calorie counting is a joke. For weight loss, having a general idea of how many calories to take in is essential, but the way these calculators are marketed is misleading and potentially hazardous due to a few reasons;
A. When you want to lose weight, mainly fat, there is a systemized way to go about it. Most women plug in their weight now and their desired weight and get some ridiculous recommendation like going from 2500 calories to 1200 calories overnight. Not only is this unrealistic, but that large of a drop in calories that soon will put your body into a metabolic stress, where it will pull from certain energy sources that should be used for hormonal function, tissue repair, and similar health benefits.
B. It’s just not realistic to spend your day counting calories, pure and simple. Have you ever seen a body builder getting ready for a competition or a health nut struggling to assess what foods they can have out at dinner? They’re absolutely miserable! And counting calories just puts added stress on the body. We get enough stress in our lives, don’t let the early days of math issues come back to haunt you.
C. Sometimes your plateaus have nothing to do with calories. It’s not uncommon to hit a weight loss plateau, but calories aren’t necessarily the cause. Often, it is more due to certain overloads of particular food groups, intake of things that cause us metabolic stress like GMO’s, processed foods, preservatives, hormones, etc., and nutrient deficiencies in our diet (lack of certain vitamins and minerals to promote proper metabolic and hormonal health).
D. Calorie counting is not fairly accurate! According to Precision Nutrition, one of the leading counsels for weight management, calorie counting can be off by as much as 25% due to improper measuring and/or labeling. I’m sorry, but my diet usually consists of 4000 calories, and if I’m plus or minus 1000 calories at the end of the day, that’s going to make or break my fitness goals.
Here is a realistic and manageable way to look at your caloric intake to ensure you lose weight from predominantly fat stores in your body.
1. Track: Track your food intake for 3 days (2 week days and 1 weekend) on a free App or computer based system but pay no attention to the recommendation for calories!
2. Assess: Take a look at how many calories you consume, and cut that amount by no more than 10% every two weeks. For instance, if you find you take in 2000 calories, try cutting your intake to 1800 calories (2000-200(10%)=1800). This will allow enough time for your body to adjust.
3. Add, then Subtract: Instead of looking directly at the calories, try adding these supplements to your diet that have shown to have a immense impact of your health and physique.
Studies show that most people are deficient in some of these areas if not all of them.
4. Hand, Palm, Fist, and Thumb: Instead of trying to count the calories or stressing out about how much you need, use your hand to assess!
- 1 Hand (not fingers): Size of animal Protein to be eaten with each meal
- 1-2 Cupped Palm: Amount of carbs to be eaten with each meal. Split between fruits and grains. If you’re naturally thinner, eat less. Naturally larger, eat more.
- 1-2 Fists: Serving size of vegetables to eat with each meal. Aim for colorful, leafy, and crunchy.
- 1-3 Thumb: Amount of nutrient dense fats to take with each meal (i.e. olive oil, almonds, etc.) If you’re naturally thinner, eat less. Naturally larger, eat more.
- 2 Hand
- 1-3 Cupped Palm (same rules apply)
- 2 Fists
- 1-3 Thumb (same rules apply)