It’s definitely advantageous to use some of the latest technology to help monitor your progress, however does counting calories and weight loss progress actually go hand in hand or are you wasting your precious time and/or money?
I have been using a calorie counting app for almost 7 years and this has helped me monitor and record my food intake and my weight and I feel has been a pretty integral part of my weight loss recently and in the past.
In fact, having used this app for so long, it helped me to recognize a long term pattern in my weight gain over the years and seeing this on a chart was somewhat of a wake up call for me to make some changes in my life and break the cycle that I had been in for so long.
Looking at the chart above you can clearly see the pattern that I had been in for quite some time. There would be a pretty sharp decline when I tried to lose weight, then a gradual rise again til I hit a peak, then I’d try to lose weight again.
One of the clearest points that you can see on the chart is that when I went past my previous high, I would try to lose weight again and this would create a higher low that I could never seem to get below, like I had a new baseline or minimum weight. I guess this would be a prime example of yo-yo dieting.
Just for reference the 2/2’s at the bottom of the chart represent another year. The very first recording of my weight was put into the app on the 2nd Feb, 2013.
How Did Calorie Counting Help?
At this point, you may be wondering how calorie counting actually helped me, seeing as I continued to put on weight for many years. Well, the truth is an app, like any other piece of technology, is only as good as the person using it.
Meaning, there’s no point in using the app to record my calorie intake unless I’m going to use it to record calories accurately to try and stay under my calorie goal and here is where the problem lies…
During the periods that I was trying to lose weight, were the only times that I would use the app. I was very disciplined with recording my calories as accurately as possible during this period, otherwise there is no reason to do it at all. Take a look at my first ever day calorie counting…..
We must of had a BBQ that day, as I had some lamb chops, a hamburger, sausages, coleslaw and 14 beers! (not shown in the pic) Among many other things….
I notched up 4,583 calories for the day, which is slightly more than that 2,010 calories that I was supposed to consume in order to stay below my daily calorie goal. Great start to weight loss, Stevie!
Luckily, I got serious after that and over the next 2 weeks, my daily average calorie intake was 1,870 & 1,970 respectively.
This calorie deficit actually resulted in a weight loss of 3.5kg (7.7lb) over this 2 week period. Not too shabby…
Learn As You Go
Whilst I don’t necessarily agree that counting calories will exclusively lead to weight loss, what it will do is educate you in many ways.
When you start to count calories, you quickly start to realize that 2,000 calories (this amount will depend on your size) isn’t really isn’t as much as you think and you learn that some of the regular foods that you have been eating for some time are much higher in calories than you thought.
The interesting thing is that you have to start thinking about finding lesser calorie substitutes, if you want to stay below your calorie goal, so you start checking labels in the supermarket and searching through the app for better alternatives. You start to make better choices.
No More Food Tonight
Sometimes you may find that you get to a point at the end of the day possibly at around dinner time, where you realize that you have reached or past your calorie goal for the day. So, what do you do if you’re still hungry?
Well, you have two choices of course. Eat or not eat. If you eat, then you will be eating too much for the day, which means this will slow your weight loss, so it really comes down to how disciplined you are and how badly you want to lose the weight.
I guess that is another positive point about recording your calories, you will need to learn how to plan your day better in terms of your eating habits and your calorie intake, so you don’t end smashing all your calories in the first half of the day and leave yourself with very little calories to finish the day with.
I forgot to mention one more choice that you can take if you are over your calorie goal for the day and you want to be able eat more, if you want. Exercise.
If you go for a walk, run or gym workout and log this into your app, then this can allow for anywhere between 200-800 calories or more (depending on how long your workout was for) to be deducted from your total calorie intake and allow for you to consume these calories, if you wish.
If you happen to have a Fitbit or another activity tracker, then you can actually sync it to your app and it will automatically update with the calorie deficit. Very handy.
Track Your Nutrients
Not only do apps like this help with counting calories, they are able to track your macro and micronutrients, which is a very important feature.
Calorie Counting Is Important For Control
Counting your calories, using an app is very important to help you understand how much you can eat and the types of foods and brands that you can eat to stay below your calorie goal.
It helps to teach you become more disciplined and more educated with your choices and your meal plans. For me, it has been an important tool, particularly from an educational perspective and I really believe that calorie counting and weight loss can happen, provided you can stay disciplined and controlled whilst using the app.
Like I said earlier, an app like this is only as good as the person using it.