You’re probably here because you know that calorie counting is one of the most accurate ways to make sure you’re in a calorie deficit.
You’re probably also here because calorie counting feels complicated, hard, and like so much work that you don’t even want to get started.
You’re in the right place. In this article I’m going to break down how to make calorie counting easier so that you can be more consistent and get more results.
Before we dive in let’s chat about what it really means to be counting calories. In order to calorie count successfully you need to be:
Tracking on weekends
Weighing your food in grams as MUCH as possible(not using cups, tbs, etc)
Tracking everything NOT just most things. This means all of the little licks, bites & tastes you have throughout the day. The handful of pretzels, the extra lick of the peanut butter spoon, the chicken nugget off your kids plate, all of it.
Tracking liquid calories(coffee, alcohol, kombucha, etc)
I’m not saying this to sound harsh, I’m saying it to help you get the best results possible. So many people will swear up and down they’re doing everything “right” and still not getting results when in reality they’re putting in a C level effort with counting their calories.
And if you put in C level effort you can expect C level results…not A+ results. So before we dive into how to make calorie counting easier, first commit to calorie counting correctly & accurately. It’s truly not worth the effort if you’re only giving it a half hearted attempt.
Do we have a deal? You’ll give this your A+ effort? Alright cool. Now let’s talk about making calorie counting easier.
This is a method I use with a lot of my 1:1 online weight loss clients who are feeling overwhelmed with the idea of tracking their food. Rather than jumping right into calorie counting and trying to hit a goal immediately I start by having them just write down what they’re eating. No calorie counting or specific goals to hit. Just write down everything you eat & drink on a piece of paper or in your notes app for 3 days. Make sure to include a weekend day in there!
Once you’ve got the hang of that and are in the habit of recording what you eat, start entering that into a calorie counting app. My online weight loss clients(and myself!) use the free version of MyFitnessPal and it works great. Now you can start to see how close(or far) you’re getting to your calorie goal and what small changes you need to make to get you closer to your goal.
The first week or 2 of counting your calories I don’t want you trying to perfectly hit your goals all the time. Treat the first 2 weeks as a trial period. You’re starting to learn what works and gets you closer to your calorie goals and what doesn’t. With these learnings you can start to adjust what you’re eating. Maybe a little bit more protein, a little bit less ice cream, etc.
The more you get into the habit of tracking everything, the easier all of this is going to start to feel. Just by tracking your calories for longer, calorie counting will feel easier and less time consuming.
Another way to make calorie counting feel easier is to:
Eat simple meals
Can you make complicated recipes and accurately track them in MyFitnessPal? Absolutely and I show you how to do that here. But the reality is that big complicated recipes are a lot more time consuming and a lot harder to track than simple, 1 ingredient foods.
What is a 1 ingredient food? It’s a food that is literally, 1 thing. For example: “banana” & “chicken” are 1 ingredient foods.
Building a meal around individual 1 ingredient foods like adding a protein, a carb, veggies, and a little bit of fat to a plate is going to be a lot easier to log than something that has many ingredients.
For example a meal of salmon, jasmine rice, zucchini & some avocado is much easier to track than “Grandma’s cheesy hashbrown casserole”.
Now I’m not saying eat chicken & broccoli for every meal here. It’s incredibly important that you still like the foods you’re eating while counting calories. But simple, 1 ingredient foods & meals are going to be a lot easier to count calories for than recipes that are more complicated.
You only have to log a few individual foods to build a meal rather than create a full recipe with lots of tiny ingredients.
Another way to make calorie counting easier:
Eat the same foods
Ok before you say “ugh I hate eating the same things over and over” this article isn’t about how to eat new and exciting meals while calorie counting…it’s about how to make calorie counting easier.
And if you want calorie counting to be easier…you need to eat more of the same foods.
MyFitnessPal has an amazing copy & paste feature. If you eat the same thing for breakfast all week you can just copy your breakfast from Monday into the entire rest of the week. You can even just swipe your finger to add it to the next day or press the 3 little dots on the meal to copy and paste.
30 seconds to log breakfast every single day! Of course you still want to be weighing your food out and adjusting portion sizes each day if needed, but this can take a lot of the work out of logging your food and make calorie counting easier.
Over time MyFitnessPal also starts to learn which foods you eat most often and places them at the top of your search results. So if you’re always eating Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice, pretty soon you’ll notice that’s at the top of your search results when you go to log a meal.
Eating the same foods isn’t super exciting I get it, but it is an incredible strategy if you want to make calorie counting feel a lot easier.
Pre-log or plan a little
Now this may feel like more effort but hear me out. Pre-logging meals in MyFitnessPal & doing some meal planning can actually make calorie counting easier throughout the week. If you plan out your meals for the week and get them into your app on Sunday, then you only have to log anything that changes during the week!
No more “forgetting to log things” or not feeling like logging something or having a day get out of hand. Everything is already logged in advance so you’re all set for the week ahead.
It’s a little bit of effort 1 day for no effort the rest of the week. Plus with everything pre-logged into the app you’ll already know if you will or won’t hit your calories for the day and can adjust in advance!
You’ll no longer be panicking at 3pm when you realize you’ve used up all your calories for the day and still need to eat dinner. Or trying to jigsaw puzzle together a really light lunch & dinner after a big breakfast and a million snacks. With pre-logging you’ll spend a lot less mental energy thinking about food, calories, and meals in general.
It’s worth it I promise.
The final way to make calorie counting easier:
Portion things out in advance
If you’re constantly on the go, hate how much time it takes to weigh your food or maybe you need to bring lunch into the office every day, it can help to portion things out in advance.
For example: you know every night for dinner you’re going to have 100g of sweet potatoes. When you cook the sweet potatoes for the first time, portion them out in individual containers of 100g. That way every night you just have to grab one of the containers and know you’re eating 100g of sweet potatoes rather than having to weigh them out each time.
Or if you have to bring lunch to the office everyday, meal prep and weigh everything out and put evenly into tupperware for the week. Then day of, you can just grab a meal prep container out of the fridge and you know exactly how many calories are in that container and can log it a heck of a lot easier.
This also applies to packaged foods that have already taken care of this for you. Individual servings of yogurt, protein bars, chips, etc are all great options if you eat those foods on a regular basis and hate the thought of having to weigh them out everytime you want a snack. Scan the barcode in MFP, make sure it matches the nutrition label on the back & you’re good to go.
These are all strategies to make calorie counting a little bit easier but let’s be honest, does calorie counting still take some effort? Absolutely yes.
This is what usually turns people away from calorie counting. It’s a new skill and it requires some time and effort to do properly.
But let me ask you this. Would you rather put in a little bit of time and effort and get results? Or continue to feel frustrated and disappointed by your lack of progress?
Calorie counting can be hard but so is staying in the exact same place you are right now.
So choose your hard. Which is more worth it to you? Putting in a little bit of effort? Or staying exactly where you are right now?
If you’re ready to make a change and just want someone to tell you exactly what to do to get the results you’re looking for…apply for 1:1 online weight loss coaching here. As always if you have any questions about this article, calorie counting in general, or MyFitnessPal shoot me an email and let’s chat!