Did you know, or better yet, do you think that counting calories is just another gimmick for the weight loss industry? What if I told you that even people who don’t need to lose weight should count calories? Did you know that counting calories is one of the most effective ways to lose weight?
Counting calories for weight loss is actually not as restrictive as it sounds. In fact, it can be quite freeing.
To which you’re probably saying to me, I’m a busy working mama, how in the world do I have time to count calories?
Because, it’s not as hard as you think!
Before we even get started on this, I want to be clear about something.
Learning this process is going to take some time and effort.
You’re learning a lifestyle and it takes time. I’m talking 3-6 months.
This means it can and will be messy. It means that there will be mistakes along the way and that you might go backwards sometimes to go forward.
Will you have to count calories forever? Nope. Because as you count your calories for these 3-6 months (approximately) you will learn what works for your body, what doesn’t, etc. Then, you will be able to move onto mindful eating.
You can do this. Be kind to yourself and as cliché as it sounds, enjoy the process! You’re literally learning a lifestyle of awesome eating and how to eat for your body to get lasting and killer results.
Note! There’s a freebie part of the way through this post that you can grab that is a ‘clean up your diet in five days” challenge!
Counting Calories for Weight Loss Step #1 – Know Your Calorie Target
Each and every single person is different which is why I hate one size fits all diets. This is another reason meals plans don’t come with any of my programs in the store. Because they will have long term success if they learn how to eat for their body.
First step is to go to TDEE and put your info in and it will spit out your maintenance calories. Maintenance calories means that amount of calories is the amount of calories you will need to maintain where you currently are.
Which means, that for weight loss, you’ll need to eat less than that maintenance number, right?
Buuuuttttt…… How do you know what number to target?
Well, the easiest way is to use the numbers that they have on TDEE. If you scroll down, you will see that they give you cutting targets. Which, is a great place to start.
If you want more info on the TDEE, you can check out this awesome article on Fitness Volt here.
I am a huge fan of periodizing calorie deficits. In fact, I firmly believe it’s vital to long term success.
(strictly as an example) This means that for 4 weeks, I’ll have my clients at a 25% deficit for example, then we’ll do a refeed time for 5-7 days, which means back to baseline calories, then 30% deficit for 4 weeks, then refeed again..
See where I’m going with this? Periodize. Don’t go into a calorie deficit and live there forever. It’s unnecessary and not healthy.
I don’t ever just tell my clients what to eat, I give them guidance and then they make the decisions. It’s all about teaching you how to live well.
Counting Calories for Weight Loss Step #2- Grab a Food Scale
Now that you know how to set your calorie range, how will you know how much food you’re eating if you don’t measure it?
I’ll be honest, I used to think weighing food was completely stupid and that eyeballing it was enough.
Guess what? I was wrong for thinking that.
I was a beginner coach at the time and made some stupid comments. Sometimes as coaches, especially starting out when we’re trying to find ourselves and our place in the industry, we say stupid things. That was one of mine.
After further education and experience, I 100% believe in weighing your food.
This is because, our eyes can deceive us, especially if we’re hungry.
We’ve all been there, we’re hungry and we fill up our plate and realize that our eyes were too big for our stomach.
Count everything you put into your mouth.
I’m talking drinks, sauces, meats, veggies, fruit, anything. If it goes into your mouth as food, it must be counted!
Here’s a tip – grab a scale that weighs in grams because grams is much more accurate than ounces because it’s a smaller measurement. Weighing your food down to the gram is highly recommended.
Counting Calories for Weight Loss Step #3 – Meal Prep
Meal prepping is a Godsend. To which you’re probably wondering when in the world you’re going to Meal prep?
Guess what? It actually saves a lot of time. I even put together a little guide to meal prepping for busy mamas over here if you want to check it out once you’re done reading this post.
A lot of people think that meal prepping means that you prepare every single meal ahead of time when that really isn’t the case at all.
Even if it’s just a few meals prepped ahead for the week, having that food already ready will become addicting. Believe me.
One last thing on meal prepping,
recruit the family to help you. There is absolutely no reason for mama to be the only one cooking. David (my husband) helps me cook and our little J man is now of an age where we can start teaching him how. In fact, he loves to cook!
Your children need to know how to cook and take care of themselves and this can actually be a very fun family affair.
Counting Calories for Weight Loss Step #4- Download a Calorie Counting App
My favorite is MyFitnessPal because it’s super easy to plug things in and stay within your personal target range.
Even though you are putting your foods into MyFitnessPal and it will be counting it for you, it’s vital that you know the basics about food and how to figure calories manually as well.
Want to know why I think people should weigh in grams? Because that’s how calories are actually figured.
Here’s an example:
- Carbs are 4 calories per gram
- Proteins are 4 calories per gram
- Fats are 9 calories per gram
- Alcohol is 7 calories per gram
So, if you have 25 grams of chicken, that’s 100 calories. Make sense? 25*4 = 100.
Boom. Cool, right?
Same formula is used for the other macros, just plug in 9 in place of 4 for fats and 7 when figuring alcohol.
Knowledge is power. Knowing the basics is vital to your long term success.
Counting Calories for Weight Loss Step #5 – Reverse Dieting
I won’t spend too terribly long on this subject, but it does need to be touched on.
Once you have periodized your eating and you reach your goal weight, you’ll need to reverse diet your way back to maintenance calories.
The most basic way to do this is to refigure your new baseline calories, then add in about 100-150 calories every 2 weeks until you reach your baseline and then voila! You’ve successfully reverse dieted.
Tip – during this reverse diet phase, you will want to watch your weight, albeit, not obsessively, but keep an eye on it to make sure that it holds steady.
If it fluctuates, then hold to those current calories, until your weight does hold steady, and then increase again.
Counting Calories for Weight Loss Step #6 – Stay calm
While this step doesn’t have anything to do with calories, it really is part of the process of all of this.
Take things one step at a time and stay calm and don’t be obsessive. Your weight will fluctuate a bit with water retention, based on hormones and other things. So, stay calm and make solid decisions. You can totally do this.
This is about learning a lifestyle. Flexible dieting is a lifestyle and it is a very effective lifestyle.
This entire process will teach you how to properly intuitively eat. Remember, don’t be obsessive. Small steps everyday will lead to big results. Give yourself some grace as you learn this lifestyle of healthy living.
Here is the deal, and I want you to listen to me very closely, mama.
You will see things on the internet promising results in a really short amount of time and “miracle” drinks and pills and please for the love of dumbbells, please do not fall for these gimmicks.
You want lasting results that are not fleeting just to get the before and after pic. Learn how to eat for your body and have a killer workout regimen to go with it from a professional and you are set up for success.
Head knowledge is only 20% of the equation.
You can have all the knowledge in the world, but it’s what you do with that knowledge that will make or break your results.
You’ve got this. Hang in there and put in the work. Stick with me and I will help take the guesswork out of fitness and healthy living.
Don’t give up, ever. I believe in you.