SHOULD YOU TRACK YOUR CALORIES?
Today we are approaching the subject of counting calories. We will explain what counting calories entails, how it may affect you physically and mentally.
Counting calories is as it reads on the label, counting the number of calories you consume daily from both liquid and solid food. People tend to count calories as a way of manipulating their overall weight ie weight loss or weight gain. Weight loss occurs in a calorie deficit and weight gain occurs in a calorie surplus.
No one is exempt from science and coming to terms with this will help as we explain later.
The industry is split on whether you should or should not track your calories daily. Some say you should not track as it can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and calories.
While others say you should so that you have a full understanding of your daily energy consumption. It will make for easier progression and less guesswork when you are going through a body transformation.
Your relationship with food is as unique to you as your fingerprints. We all have different ideas and feelings towards food and how it makes us feel. Some of us use it to comfort ourselves, some of us use it to alleviate stress and some of us are indifferent towards it.
The context of you as an individual and your individual history plays a massive role in how you view food. The health and fitness industry further distorts your perceptions as they demonise certain things and make blanket statements mainly for click bait.
Susan with 500k followers on social media comes out and promotes her new and life-changing keto meal plan which demonizes bread and all carbs to the general public.
Sadly the society we live in think that Susan has some form of credibility.
Either because of her vast and mainly bought Instagram following or because she once taught Zumba down at the local sports hall.
Now we are sure that most of you would look at the new and life-changing keto plan and think to yourself …'Not today Susan'
But for the rest of us, we are left forming a biased opinion on whether these foods are good or bad for you.
Slowly that's when your food demons begin to creep in,
"Oh my god, all I want to eat is pain au chocolat"
"but Susan said on her Instagram that not only will my insulin spike but my body fat will increase dramatically"
30 mins later...
You've caved in because the closest you've been to a carb since 2001, was walking up the bakery aisle frantically inhaling the smell of a fresh crusty roll.
You've eaten the pain au chocolate and now you're mentally beating yourself up.
The food demonising cycle begins.
Now it seems like we are going off topic, but it will all start to make sense.
We at The Arrow Club encourage our clients to track their calories either through a bespoke meal plan or using My Fitness Pal. The reason we insist that they do this is simple.
Our clients will come to us with a goal and we as trainers have a moral obligation to help them achieve those goals. We understand that food places a massive role in a body transformation.
If we don't address our clients diet at the start we are setting ourselves up for failure.
There is nothing worse than training hard for weeks, and not seeing an ounce of progress towards your goals, this only leads you to start questioning yourself and the process.
Everyone knows the feeling of disliking the way you look. Maybe your clothes are really tight, maybe you are on holiday and you feel uncomfortable getting into a bikini or Maybe you are too shy to get naked in front of your partner?
We feel we have all been there to some varying degree or another. It really does make you feel like shit.
But, we also know what it feels like when you look good, clothes look extra tasty, confidence is at an all-time high and everyone is paying you compliments.
Question is which emotion is stronger?
We want all of our clients to avoid these negative demons and one way of ensuring that is getting them to track their calories.
Below is two different scenarios, same person, same goals but two different outlooks.
Goes to the gym and spends a decent amount on a trainer/gym membership. Never tracked calories before but saw on social media that Susan said you will manifest an unhealthy relationship with food so avoids tracking. Trains hard 3 times a week, put in a 100% effort and basically does not progress to the point of where they are happy.
The final result is you have paid Bosu ball Ben 3k, and the only thing you feel you've achieved is how to waste money and time. Leaving you even more frustrated than you were, to begin with.
Goes to the gym and realises that to come out with guaranteed results they will need to manage their calories according to their goal.
*side note* you can only lose weight in a deficit and the only way to hit a deficit consistently is by tracking.
Trains hard 3 times a week, tracks to a small and easily adherable deficit (-100 /200 cals to start ) and reaches their goal. Goes on holiday with their goals achieved, confidence through the roof and loving life, all just from managing portions and calories.
You don't have to track forever but you do need to track long enough to then instinctively know your portion sizes.
What if we now told you that you can eat anything , just as long as you adhere to your calorie goal? There is no restriction of any kind when it comes to food, the only thing you need to do is adhere to your portion sizes that are conducive to your goals.
Not tracking calories and wanting to make a change can work but it can also fail miserably. You have a 50/50 chance of progression and leave yourself open for disappointment and frustration if you fail.
Tracking your calories with common sense (no crash dieting, no exclusion of anything and a small deficit) works 100% of the time.
Yes, it is a little bit shit as we know you want to eat whatever, when you want and as much as you like but unless you're a genetic freak, you will get fat.
Regardless of what you eat if you are in an excess of calories you will put on weight.
Overeating on chicken, rice and starting to get fat? Who would of thought.
So before getting upset, be accountable and understand that you can't consume calories like they won't affect you (this includes all liquid calories).
If you have tried tracking your food and hated every second of it then we advice for you not to do it, as adding stress to the mix will always be counterproductive.
If you haven't tried it and currently assume it's evil but still want to progress, please just try it for a couple of weeks and let us know how it goes.
Counting calories isn't the devil, no one died from counting calories, no one is in a mental institution for counting calories.
Being unhappy with your body, restricting foods, and not progressing are the reasons you feel upset not counting how many cals you ate in your chicken stirfry.
Don’t do it forever, just do it till you have reached your goal.