We all know that eating well is all about taking into consideration the calories going in via foods and the calories going out through our physical exercise. When we get the balance right we maintain a healthy weight. And when we ensure there are more calories being burnt than consumed, we lose weight.
Calorie counting is the best way by far for us to stay on track, whether it’s weight loss or weight maintaining. But what is the easiest way for us to count calories and ensure we stay on track?
Mention calorie counting to many people and they will roll their eyes and say, “It’s laborious” or “It’s too hard”. Fact of the matter is though, it’s the surefire way for ensuring we get the calories we need to achieve our goals.
So what are the most effective ways we can keep track of the calories going in? Here are my two recommendations:
- Developing meal plans: This is by far the best method to help you monitor all of the calories going in. Measure the foods going into your meals, to determine the calories. Create your meal plan for an entire week, and for variety, create several meal plans – perhaps 4 or so – to cover you for a month. It is important that you stick to your meal plan. Meal plans include absolutely everything you eat – breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and of course snacks. By sticking to your meal plan, you will know exactly how many calories are going in.
- Keeping a Food Diary: Keeping a food diary is the traditional way people count calories. You simply write down whenever you eat something, and make a note of the calories. Then you add your daily calorie intake up at the end of the day, to determine how many calories have gone into your body for the day. Food diaries are popular, however, one of the downsides to food diaries is that people don’t add to it as they eat. As a result, they may forget to add snacks and drinks throughout the day, resulting in a lower daily calorie calculation at the end of the day. It’s called food amneisia and so many of us have done it at some time or another!
I always recommend people develop meal plans, as opposed to keep a food diary, because meal plans are by far the best way to keep track of calories in. You don’t have to guess how many calories you are eating, because the meal plan tells you. Also, you don’t have to add the food as you eat, like you do in a food diary. And as you know, all too often people forget to add everything they eat to the diary anyway.
The thing though about meal plans is that people often bawk at the effort involved in preparing one. Whenever a client says to me, “Oh Dear Trainer, creating a meal plan is way too much time and effort for me”, I just respond by asking them how important it is for them to achieve their weight and health goals.
There are plenty of meal plans out there that you can get off the internet for free, however, by creating your own meal plan, you are factoring in your own preferences. Sure, you will be eating healthy foods, but still, you may not like eating brussel sprouts and instead may choose to replace with broccoli. By creating your own meal plan, you cater to your tastes.
If you really find creating a meal plan daunting, I recommend you go online and find a meal plan that appeals, and then make small changes to suit your tastes. Be sure though to ensure the calories are correct for whatever it is you are adding to the meal plan as a replacement food.
It’s definitely worth the effort to create a meal plan, so set some time aside and have fun!