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Calorie counting is a self-monitored method of recording the calorific (or kilojoule) amount of each and every food and drink you consume. It can be done using a food journal, app (e.g., MyFitnessPal), or your own personal spreadsheet.
Often referred to as the gold standard dietary assessment method, calorie counting is a useful tool for someone looking to fulfill a health or fitness goal. Not only can it help generate an understanding of the nutritional compositions of each food that you eat, but it can also help become accountable to a structured routine and habits in everyday life.
Like all assessment methods, there is room for error when calorie counting. In fact, it has been found that counting calories can lead to underreporting errors by up to 30%. As well as this, the caloric availability of food varies, and food labelling is not always totally accurate. It could also be seen as time-consuming to an individual, especially during busy time periods, leading to ‘record fatigue’. However, this does not make the process pointless, and as stated above, many of the benefits of calorie tracking do not come from the numbers themselves. Having an increased understanding of the food you are consuming, for example, can help to reduce mindless eating - a situation that many people struggle with in everyday life.
It's important to remember that you don’t need to track forever! That would be like turning a Satnav on when you know the direction you are going ...
People may have the same goals as you, but the way in which you apply this to everyday life changes between people. Not everyone has the same demands, schedule, or values. It's therefore important to find a routine that suits you as an individual and stick to this consistently. Have a look below to see other methods that may help to reach your goal over a long-term, sustainable period:
Progress Pictures: These can help to show your progress in the ways other methods e.g. calorie counting/scales cannot and can be highly motivating!
Journalling: You do not need to use apps like MyFitnessPal to record numerically what you are eating. Simply writing down what you consume in a day has been found to help induce more mindful food choices.
Adapting Food Environment: You will need far less willpower when the food isn’t available at home!
Think Food Volume: If your goal is to lose weight, it's important to make your plate as satiating as possible. An easy way to do this is to up protein portions and replace half your starchy carbs with fruit and vegetables – this will help you feel fuller for longer and less need to consume more calories in between meals
Despite the recent speculation around calorie counting, it can be a really useful tool to help reach your goal. However, what works for one person may not work for another, despite having the same goal. At P3RFORM, we take a holistic individual approach to help work out what method may suit you, helping your fitness journey become as simple and convenient as possible - one step at a time.