When I want to lose weight I count calories.
I’m currently dieting using an app called ‘MyFitnessPal’. I’m reliably informed I’ve logged my food for over 100 days in a row (yay me!).
My last entry (9pm Sunday night) comprised of:
- 1 x Scoop Vanilla Whey Protein
- 200ml Semi-skimmed milk
- 1 x Oreo cookie
It was delicious!
You could say I’m a fan of counting calories. I find it simple, quantifiable and allows me to achieve my goals.
In other words…
It works for me.
However, this does not mean it will work for you. There’s a myriad of different reasons calorie counting may not be suitable.
If you’re reading this thinking:
“Counting calories stresses me out”
“I haven’t got time to count calories
“I’ve tried it before and it didn’t work”
Fear not, there is another way.
In fact there are hundreds (probably thousands) of other ways. I’m going to start you off with 5 steps you can action immediately (without a single calorie being counted in the process!).
1) Eat more Protein
My favourite macronutrient; protein is a fat loss powerhouse! Your body will actually burn more calories breaking down protein rich food compared to carbohydrate and fats.
Protein has a greater satiating affect meaning appetite is controlled and you’ll consume fewer calories throughout the day (without having to count them!).
When dieting you’ll be at greater risk of losing muscle; wouldn’t it be useful to have a food that preserves your lean tissue? You guessed it… protein to the rescue!
2) Eat more Fibre
Aka eat your fruits and vegetables! It turns out our parents were really onto something.
Ramping up the fibrous fruits and vegetables in the diet will fill you up and lead to less total calories being consumed throughout the day. Vegetables in particular are calorie sparse and nutrient dense, a good combination for successful weight loss.
Apples, raspberries, broccoli and spinach are personal dieting favourites.
3) Eat Carbs around your Workout
There’s no denying that controlling carbohydrate intake can have a massive impact on weight loss. There’s a reason Mr Atkins and his diet was so popular back in the day – it worked for a lot of people!
The removal of all carbohydrates from the diet is unnecessary and somewhat draconian. Carbs have a positive impact on training so why not adjust the diet accordingly.
If you’re training at 6pm eat lower carb for breakfast and lunch. Grab some sweeter carbs around 5pm (fruit works well) and consume starchy carbs to promote recovery post workout (think a delicious serving of rice, potatoes, pasta for dinner). As long as you pick one and not all 3 you should be fine!
4) Track your fat
Ok so I’m bending the rules slightly here BUT if there’s one thing you need to monitor it’s servings of fat.
Fat is calorie dense and delicious – this is not a preferential dieting combination.
Think about the following:
- Dry slice of toast
- Bowl of plain pasta
- Table sugar
Not particularly appealing until you combine with:
- Dry slice of toast smothered in peanut butter
- Bowl of plain pasta covered in a rich creamy sauce
- Table sugar sprinkled on a doughnut
The addition of fat makes food taste good.
The addition of fat makes food calorific.
Whether you’re adding butter to toast or olive oil to the pan, I’d advise a degree of caution. Take 5mins to learn what an actual serving looks like. You’ll end up better equipped to make mindful dietary calls that support your weight loss goal.
5) Replace Snacks with Meals
I urge clients to adopt this approach, at least in the short-term. It’s such a simple piece of advice but inadvertently leads to a series of favourable dietary shifts:
- Less total calories being consumed
- Less refined junk being consumed
- Emphasis on cooking
- Better food planning
- More protein being consumed
This can help you distinguish the difference between a craving and genuine hunger. If you’re susceptible to tea and biscuits mid-afternoon, or chocolate before bed consider that this may be more out of habit than actual need for those foods.
If you impose a simple rule where you consume all your calories across 3-4 meals you’ll end up having to plan better and you’ll eat less convenient junk.
Take home points
- Calories count but you don’t have to count calories
- Eat a serving of protein as part of a complete meal 3-4 x day
- Eat your 5-a-day (you’ve heard this before but nobody does it!)
- Carbs and Fat should be included but timing and amount need to be considered.