The hard truth is that your diet is going to play a very meaningful role in your ability to lose fat, build muscle and lead a long, healthy life. What I mean by diet here is your total calorie, protein, fat and carbohyrdate intake each day.
And it’s when you finally come to accept this fact of life that you begin to realize that you’re going to need to track your food intake for a very long time in some way to lose weight and maintain that weight loss.
Clients ask me: Do I have to do this for the rest of my life to maintain my weight?
The short answer to that is yes. The long answer, well, you have a few options to choose from at least. Try a few and see which is the easiest to stick with long-term.
Option 1 – Count something other than calories
Instead of counting calories, count macronutrients. There are plenty of macronutrient calculators on the internet. They’ll ask you some basic information about your weight, your activity level and your weight loss goals and then will come up with a macronutrient profile for you. There are also apps that are specifically designed to count macros instead of calories. This is a great way to approach your diet, especially if you’re looking to lose fat and build muscle.
Option 2 – Follow a specific diet (one that usually cuts out an entire food group)
The reason this works, typically in the short-term, is because by cutting out an entire food group you’re eliminating a huge source of calories. If you cut out carbs, you’ll most likely be in a calorie deficit and see weight loss. The only problem here is if it’s something you can’t stick with, you will gain back the weight. The key is to find a diet or a way of eating that feels easy for you and make that part of your lifestyle.
Option 3 - You Can Be Less Strict About It
Instead of tracking religiously, you can loosen the reins a bit. Eyeball portions sizes, instead of weighing and measuring. Record only during times you know you tend to overeat, like the weekends or vacation. Keep track in your head as you go along throughout the day, instead of entering everything into an app. The scale will tell you whether or not you’ll need to tighten the reins. If you see the number on the scale creeping up, start recording more diligently. If you’re doing a good job at maintaining or losing, give yourself a break.
Hopefully that eases your fears of a lifetime of tracking food. Tracking can look different for every person. What matters is whether it’s actually getting you the results you want. The best way to figure that out is by weighing yourself everyday, without fault and go from there.