If you’re looking for an article to dispute the importance of the almighty calorie, this isn’t it. Whether you recognize it or not, acknowledge it or not, the calorie still matters for fat loss.
However, the calorie isn’t the best measure for everyone to use if they want to succeed at fat loss.
Over the last several years, I’ve acclimated to a piece of software that allows me to put several pieces of data in to cough up a pretty good indicator of where a client’s calorie goals should be. I can get us down to the grams of protein, carbohydrate and fat content (ranges, mind you) to damn near guarantee success. I’d be lying to you if I told you that every successful client of mine followed that data to a “T”. They don’t. Thankfully, they don’t have to.
It’s estimated data points and they’re simply there for a guide, not as the end all be all for success to occur.
Since the pandemic hit, I’ve still been taking on new clients but due to social distancing, I can’t do all of the up-close measurements that I’m accustomed to.
That means, that we have to find other ways to tackle the intake of food (or fluids that contain calories) to arrive at the same goal of fat loss.
While I do find calorie tracking immensely eye-opening when done correctly, it’s not always necessary and can have a sabotaging effect for certain people.
What other options are there?
Right now, I’m asking my new clients just to tell me what they eat.
I document what they consume in foods and drinks from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. Some people give me graphic details of all they eat: down to the flavor of cream in their coffee to the condiments they put on their sandwiches and the dressing they use on salad (it ALL counts).
Others tend to be more vague when they describe what they eat. It’s not to be deceitful, it’s because they’re either unaware or they’ve forgotten. Hell, I can’t even tell you what I ate two days ago with great accuracy unless I was tracking it.
For those who have the details down, it’s about finding the places where you can make a reduction.
Assume for a moment, that you eat 3 meals a day of varying sizes. You also eat at least one snack and have at least one alcoholic drink. Where will you cut back? One person might elect to remove the snack and the beer and another person might say, I’m keeping my snack and beer but I’m removing breakfast. Cool! That’s where we start.
After 1-2 weeks of this simple change, you reassess by checking the scale, checking how your clothes fit or even if there’s been a change in the belt loop. It all matters as a reference point but everyone has a different tool they’re comfortable using. Use the one that makes you feel best and appears to be accurate.
To highlight my thoughts with a recent client consultation, Don M. and I were talking about how to get his diet in order. His wife, Amy, has been a client of mine for awhile and has been encouraging him to start with me when the time felt right.
Don and Amy are both dealing with different eating challenges. Both are with me for weight loss. When Don told me about his diet, it really didn’t appear to be concerning. So, I asked the question somewhat differently: Which meal tends to go awry for you?
Without hesitation, he said: Dinner. Absolutely.
I suggested he eat the same size dinner as his wife. This isn’t a “forever” change. It’s something that they can do together, hold each other accountable for and help each other succeed together with. I also wouldn’t suggest this to everyone. I just want Don to kickstart with some momentum and if dinner is his problem area, I want to focus there first.
We’re often at the mercy (subconsciously) of following the social cues of others. If I reach for seconds when I eat dinner with my wife, she’s more likely to eat more as well. Think about how you react to social cues when you go to a restaurant and order an unplanned appetizer because it was suggested to you or how you go for seconds (or thirds) at Thanksgiving because you see others do so.
What’s good about this is that awareness of these vulnerable areas can make people more proactive moving forward, without counting a single calorie.
At a certain point, Don may plateau with his weight loss and we’ll have to investigate further to see if anything else is slowing his progress down.
For now, tactics that can work for him can work for you too. You don’t have to keep a food journal every day (but you can if you’d like), you don’t have to count calories or macros (but you can if you’d like) and you don’t have to measure every morsel you eat (but…you can if you’d like).
Find the areas that look “slippery” to you and focus your efforts there first.
Stay tuned over the next several weeks to get an update on how Don and Amy are succeeding together.
(Below is a recent shot of some of our socially distanced rockstars representing the newest line of our Rev swag in tribute to our Emily B. with a favorite saying of hers, “Pump Is Life”. Below is Bill, Shon, Amy and Cherie)
“We Make Great People Greater”