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Why Tracking Calories Could Be The Best Thing You Ever Do

If you keep doing the same thing over and over again you are going to get the same result's over and over again.

Every year since you put on that 2 stone of extra cuddly layer of body fat you have said "This year is going to be the year I get my body back, the year I can finally fit back into my jeans"

Yet you take the same approach year after year, you leave it too late and that special event you said you wanted to lose weight for is on the horizon, that expensive holiday, your best mates wedding where you are a bridesmaid or even your own wedding!

You have left it right to the last minute AGAIN! so you have to revert to the crash dieting approach where if you are lucky you manage to lose 10lbs in a month by going 'nil by mouth'. But in order to achieve that you have had to cut out everything you enjoy, people have started to avoid being around you because your constant outbursts of hangry (angry due to hunger) and you yourself are miserable and cant wait fort that special event to be over so you can go back to your old habits.

Then you gain back the 10lbs and a couple of extra lbs for good measure because you have gone on a month long binge because "I put in so much hard work before so I deserve it"

Six months down the line you are back to crapping yourself about needing to lose weight because of the next big summer event is just around the corner, so what do you do?

well....what you always do of course " it worked for me before" you say to all your friends.

Did it?

Did it really?

Because a diet that is truly successful is one in which results last, also you don't feel you are being to restrictive and you can see yourself following it for years to come.

Imagine a diet which is made up of foods you enjoy and you don't have to cut out absolutely everything you love just so you look Instagram ready at that wedding next year.

What if I told you that you can achieve that feeling by tracking your calories.... sounds interesting right?

"Oh but it's too time consuming to track calories in an app, its too confusing and I'm too busy"

Ok well you stick to what has never worked before but you keep repeating it and I'll help the people who really want to change.

Because in my opinion if you really really want to like REALLY want to lose weight then you would be willing to put in the time and effort to do something you have never done before. See I believe the people that come up with all those excuses don't really want to lose weight, I mean they say they do but it is just easier to throw out excuses than put in the hard work that is needed.

Calorie tracking apps

Behold the best thing since sliced bread for anyone who has tried everything and anything to lose weight. Calorie tracking apps. In my opinion the best one on the market is My Fitness Pal  the database on this app is so huge it has pretty much every food you can think of. It also has lots of cool features.

You can create your own recipes of meals you eat often so you just have to simply click add and it will go straight into your diary. You can add friends so you and your friends can build a little community and keep an eye on each others progress, you can even steal meal ideas from each other.

To be honest I'm not even going to talk about any other types of apps because My Fitness Pal is the king of tracking apps.

Why it works 

Why are tracking apps so successful?

If you have been following me for a while you will know that calories are incredibly important when it comes to weight loss.

Being in a calorie deficit is incredibly important, check out my last blog on this subject The calorie deficit diet! Most of us when dieting unsuccessfully think we are reducing calories but clearly not reducing them enough. By using an app you can't be any more accurate when it comes to your daily calorie consumption. Essentially you will be leaving no stone unturned, no more guessing, no more forgetting what you've eaten in a day and to be honest probably a complete eye opener to how many calories just are in certain foods that you may not have realised.

You really can eat foods you enjoy and still lose weight!

Yes that statement is true you can be less restrictive, eat foods you enjoy and still lose weight.

If you have a sweet tooth and like some chocolate every day, guess what? You have the numbers in front of you to manipulate so you can squeeze that dairy milk in while having a cuppa watching your favourite Netflix show.

Having this flexibility is the winner when it comes to this diet because other "diets" you restrict everything get results but can't see it lasting because you no longer enjoy the process.

The weekends tend to be where 90% of people screw the 5 days of hard dieting they've put in by thinking "I've been good all week so I deserve to have the weekend off my diet" well I've got news for you if you need the weekend off your diet, you need to find a new diet because that one isn't going to last.

You can go a bit over board on a Saturday night but that's ok as long as you log that in your tracking app you can either squeeze it into your daily allowance by maybe reducing calories at other points in the day or you can make up for it by reducing your calories over the next couple of days by a couple of hundred calories

Look at it like you are studying nutrition.

Look at logging your food as studying nutrition because if you persist with it you will learn a lot about what's in certain foods both calories and nutrients. It will give you a very useful knowledge to the point where one day you won't need to use the app any more and you can just look at certain foods and know because you've logged them so many times.

With my personal training clients I try to get all of them to use My Fitness Pal at some point for a period of time and they learn a lot from it and to be honest most of them who stick with it see the best weight loss results.

Most of us tend to eat the same foods daily, I know I do I eat virtually the same of two breakfast each day for pure ease of not really having to think. So I now don't need to log that because I know both those meals are around 500 calories if I use the same portion size of ingredients.

The aim is not to track calories for the rest of your life (if it works and you like it carry on) the aim is to learn enough to not need to track calories.

My personal experience

A couple of years ago I used My Fitness Pal to get in shape for a photo shoot, I was doing the photo shoot to see if I could really get in the kind of shape you see people on the front cover of magazines get in. Also to learn what it takes so I can transfer that knowledge and experience to use with my personal training clients.

In all honesty there is no way I would have got into the shape I did without using the app. It kept me on track and also kept me sane by allowing myself some flexibility with food choice on days where I felt like having something "naughty".

I did it, I was very happy with my results and I continued to use the app for some time after that. I think I used it for around 2 years solid and it has been better than any past nutrition course I have done. I then stopped using the app for a couple of years but I had already gained the knowledge to not really need it because my eating habits where still the same.

Now I only use the app from time to time to see if I'm still on track with what I'm eating kind of like a bit of revision I suppose to make sure I am actually consuming a day what I think I am.

Once you have gained your knowledge

Once you have used the app for a while and feel you have gained enough knowledge to not need it anymore that's great. I have some personal training clients who only use it at the weekends now as this tends to be the time people like to unwind and relax with that normally comes foods you enjoy and convenient foods. Those are the type of foods that tend to be higher in calories and much more palatable which means there may be more of a chance of over eating them.

So by using the app only at the weekends it helps make sure you aren't undoing all your hard work during the week. It also means you won't feel guilt or doubt that you have messed your diet up because you have the data there to review.


So to wrap things up, how bad do you want to lose weight?

Have you tried most things with very little sustainable success?

Then give tracking calories a try it does not have to be forever but it will be the best thing you have ever done and the best learning experience when it comes to nutrition. You don't always have to track calories but calories really do count when it comes to weight loss.

Take care

Jonny AKA The Fitness Dad

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