I signed up to MyFitnessPal in June 2013 which means I’ve been counting calories or tracking my macros for the better part of 8 years. The reason why I’ve decided to never do this again is simply because it’s not sustainable for me! I’ve realised it’s not something I enjoy doing and it’s not something I’m willing to continue doing for the rest of my life (I also don’t think it’s required to achieve a great physique).
It can be useful to learn how to weigh and track your food. It teaches you a lot about nutrition and how many calories are in different foods. I also think there is a time and a place for it in the short term, such as if you are dieting for a photo shoot or bodybuilding show and pushing your body to its limits. At the end of the day though it’s just another tool in the tool kit and should be treated as such, instead of being the default strategy for so many people.
Rather than just consuming X number of calories per day in a robot like fashion we should be trying to form good habits such as having a consistent meal schedule, eating protein and vegetables at each meal, snacking on fruit instead of junk and paying attention to our hunger and satiety signals. Beyond this we can also educate ourselves on the calorie/energy density of different foods in order to make more intelligent choices.
I see too many coaches who rely solely on prescribing calorie and macro targets to help their clients lose weight. This is short sighted. If your client is relying on tracking to lose weight, you need to ask if this is something they’re willing to do for the rest of their life. If not, how are they going to keep the weight off?
If you really want to help yourself and your clients remember that sustainability is key and go beyond counting calories and macros. This requires giving up a bit of control but I promise your fitness journey is going to be so much more enjoyable afterwards.