Tracking calories is essential for reaching your fitness goals. It allows you to look at both what you are eating and the quality of your food. The best tool to track your calories that I have found is MyFitnessPal.
MyFitnessPal allows you to track every food that you eat by weight or volume. When you enter in a food, the macros (protein, fat, and carbs) are displayed so you can see what comprises your food. You can even enter foods by scanning the barcode, which is super convenient. Another valuable feature is that you are able to look at your weekly calorie consumption.
MyFitnessPal allows you to set protein, fat and carb goals. This will require some adjustment depending on your preferences. A person who is not as concerned about muscle building, like Hayley, might choose to have 20% fat, 20% protein, and 60% carbs. I like to keep my protein higher for muscle growth, so my macros are 20% fat, 35% protein, and 45% carbs. A good starting point is somewhere in-between Hayley and my own macro ranges, but it is important to find out what kind of macro ranges work best with your body.
Once you have MyFitnessPal all set up, it is important to track consistently. Tracking will give you a good estimate of your maintenance calories. This is the amount of calories that you need to maintain your current weight. Once this is determined you can then add or subtract increments of 250-500 to start determining where your optimal cutting and bulking ranges are. This only works when you track your calories very consistently and keep track of everything that you eat (even if it is stuff you shouldn’t be eating). Keep in mind that your weekly calorie consumption is more important than your day to day calorie intake. This is because weight loss is gradual and takes consistency over weeks. Just because you had one good day in the week doesn’t mean you are going to lose weight.
Currently I am at 245 days in a row of logging my foods on MyFitnessPal. Being this consistent allows me to change one element of my diet to see how it changes my overall progress. This is how I determined that I do better with a lower fat intake. When I increased my fat from 20% to 30% of my daily macros (30% protein, 40% carbs) the rate that I lost weight was slower.
Tracking calories can help you get a really good base built for yourself, and from there you can start experimenting more. You will get to the point where tracking actually provides more freedom in your diet. You can determine what you want to eat and what works best for you.
-Stay Consistent Out There