Research has shown that just by the act of tracking calories alone you will lose weight.
Too good to be true?
The truth is, although we seemingly don’t make any conscious changes, the act of tracking calories will affect our subconscious. Because we confront ourselves with every single meat we eat and assign a number to it, we instinctively start to put limitations and changes on our actions.
Of course, it would be better if you combined conscious effort with tracking calories. That would definitely increase your progress exponentially (we will cover that in future posts).
There are many apps and devices that help you track, but I prefer to use an excel spreadsheet so I can make calculations and spot trends in my diet. Here’s a basic template I use in excel every meal of everyday to track calories:
Here are the basic guidelines I would suggest:
1. Isolate every meal
By being specific, we often will find a lot of insights. Maybe you binge during dinner every other day. Or maybe it is the small and consistent snacks that you consume throughout the day. By isolating our activity, we can see where the problem areas are.
Here are a few resources that can help you find out the amount of calories you consume:
2. Daily Sum
In Column D, I summed up all my meals during the day to show my total daily consumption. This helps with spotting trends. E.g. Maybe your cheat day on Friday also occurs on Tuesdays and Sundays.
3. Weekly Average / Weekly Stats
In column see, I record my weight at the beginning of the week in pounds and kilograms. I think this is one of the best practices of tracking physical change.
If you record every day, there is too much “noise” in your data that happens naturally. Maybe there was a special dinner event, or maybe you were too busy and didn’t eat dinner. My father recorded his weight every half hour when he was trying to lose weight. He could tell you how much each of his jeans weighed and the difference in weight before/after he went to the bathroom. This introduces too much noise to be actionable.
On the contrary, if you measure once every month or more, the interval is too long. By the time you realized you gained an extra 6 pounds last month, it is already too late to take action.
One week is a fair amount of time frame to consistently track, monitor, and change your progress and behavior.
I personally pick Sunday morning, first thing I wake up – to track my weekly weight.
4. Just do it
Tracking calories sounds like a lot of work, especially if you have never done it. You have to google everything you ate to put a specific number to it.
But it gets easier.
Humans are creatures of habit. After a few weeks, you will realize you consume pretty much the same things. You will know how many calories a can of coke is, or many much calories your favorite set meal is. After you do this for a few weeks, it will only requires you 2 minutes a day or less. If you can’t spend 2 minutes or less on leading a healthier lifestyle… Maybe a healthier lifestyle isn’t for you.
5. Pigheaded Discipline and Determination
Do it every single day for 21 days.
I’ve done it every day for the past six years. It’s worth it. I promise you.
A hen takes 21 days to lay an egg. Many studies have shown it takes 21 days to develop a habit. Just stick with me here. Do it for 21 days, develop this habit of tracking calories, and it will pay dividends in the future.
Also after 3-4 weeks, you will establish a baseline that we can start to work on and we will dive into more detail on what to do with the information.
Tracking calories – The concept is simple to understand. But simple is not easy.
**Lastly, here’s an extra super-secret: CALORIES FOR REAL TEA IS 0!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!