A lot of folks inevitably get into tracking calories when they’ve failed with other approaches in the past.
It’s like a frustration that builds and builds.. eventually, you’ve invested enough time and energy into this without seeing the results that you want – and you decide to buckle down and go after the tried and true method.
If that’s you, FANTASTIC! Congratulations.
Something incredible is coming your way.
But there are a few common pitfalls that many folks make when they start tracking.
1. UTILIZE A CALORIE TRACKING APP
Using a dedicated app can make all the difference.
You’d be surprised how many people pass over this – but you really can’t beat using a fully-loaded database that instantly syncs with a digital diary.
If you’re looking for reliable options, I recommend free apps like MyFitnessPal, Cronometer, and LoseIt.
For a more in-depth experience, check out MacroFactor, which updates your goals as you lose weight.
As a bonus, you can even use my last name, “MARRA,” as an affiliate code to enjoy an extra free week on the trial.
2. FOCUS ON CALORIES FIRST
As tempting as it may be to dive into tracking macros, fiber, sodium, and minerals, it’s crucial to start by focusing on calories.
Tracking calories is a habit in it’s own.
It’s a crucial habit that drives your progress, especially when it comes to weight loss.
Calorie intake takes precedence over all the other little details along the way.
So don’t let it be comprimised by adding too much complexity too soon. Smash your calorie goals daily, and you’ll see yourself begin to lose weight. That will drive your motivation to continue, and the long term is where the magic happens.
Besides, tracking your calories alone to start will enhance your understanding of macros and smarter food choices more than you can imagine.
If you’re REALLY chomping at the bit to get a bit more detailed with it… hit a protein goal as a bonus.
This is what I do with a lot of the guys I work with when they first start out.
1g/lb of body weight is a good place to start.
200 lb guy = 200g protein / day.
If you’re over 250lb, just eat your height (in cm) in grams of protein daily.
Do this for 2-3 weeks, and see what happens!
3. START WITH MAINTENANCE
Patience is key, my friend.
Instead of jumping headfirst into a grueling fat loss phase, start by tracking your calories at maintenance level for 10 to 14 days.
This approach allows you to develop the habit of tracking without the added pressure of calorie restriction. Discovering your real maintenance calories will provide invaluable insights for future decisions regarding deficits and loss rates.
I KNOW – you want to lose fat yesterday.
You’re not the first one to want fast results.
But if you wanted it gone yesterday, you should’ve started 6 weeks ago.
So… just spend a week or two eating at maintenance calories. The structured eating, change of routine, and learning new things will be plenty to tackle all at once already.
Make that work first. Then start making some changes.
BONUS: GET A FOOD SCALE
If you have access to a food scale, I highly recommend using it. You will learn SO MUCH more than simply eye-balling everything right out of the gate. You probably have no idea what 25g of peanut butter looks like.
Reduce the frustration and headache by weighing your foods for a while to start.
Weighing your foods accurately, even during the maintenance phase, will teach you the true meaning of serving sizes. It can be done all at once, ahead of time, to save yourself time too.
Get 5 meal prep containers out. Zero the food scale with the container on it. Add 100g of chicken breast. Next container. 100g. Next. 100g. And so on… You just measured out a weeks worth of lunches in 18 seconds. That’s the economy of scale at work!
Hopefully these tips help you avoid many of the mistakes I made, and see guys making when they first start with this stuff.
Wishing you tremendous success on your calorie tracking journey!