Three weeks ago a woman I’m helping lose weight (let’s call her “Amber”) told me that she had started using My Fitness Pal to track her calories because she felt like she wasn’t making progress as quickly as she would like – despite being down 43 lbs so far.
Up until that point our nutrition coaching had been a very simple focus on behaviours around food, food choices and “hand-based” portion sizes. This is typically where I start everyone and “Amber” had been doing very well with this approach.
I call it “Level 1” and in my 12 years of experience after coaching hundreds of people, I rarely need to go past this style of coaching. I’ve found that most people are quite happy with their bodies and how they feel when they follow these guidelines consistently, without ever having to weigh or measure their food.
Remember, “Amber” had already lost 43 lbs without ever looking at calories.
With that said, most people also feel like they would make better progress if they tracked their calories and macros (carbs, fats and protein). This is largely untrue, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Anyways, back to my story…
I asked “Amber” to track very diligently for the next couple of weeks so we could get a baseline of how many calories she’s eating on a daily basis as well as her typical ratio of carbs/fats/protein.
Then depending on what whether she loses weight, gains weight or stays the same we’ll have a rough idea of where her metabolism is currently at.
This morning we took a look and I saw that over the last 3 weeks she had been averaging around 1700 calories/day and her macro ratio was roughly:
– 42% carbs
– 30% fats
– 23% protein
We also found that her weight has been fairly consistent over these 3 weeks, meaning that her metabolic baseline is right around 1700 calories/day.
My advice was that we should actually slowly start to increase her calories because 1700 doesn’t give us a lot of room to start slashing. Not sustainably at least.
But before we do that, I recommended that we first bring her carbs down a little bit and bring her protein up a little bit, while keeping calories pretty much the same.
– 1700 calories/day
– 30-35% carbs
– 30% fats
– 30-35% protein
As I continued rattling off numbers, percentages and calculations “Amber” looked at me with a glazed over look in her eyes and said,
“That’s a lot of numbers…..”
I smiled and responded, “Yup, it absolutely is. Which is exactly why I don’t start this way people.”
While calorie counting and macro percentages can absolutely work, it’s just one more time consuming, complicated step that can act as an obstacle when life happens.
There’s a time and place for everything. But if you’re a person who just wants to lose some weight, look better in their clothes, have a bit more energy to live your life and feel stronger you can do all of that without turning your food into complicated math calculations.
In the end, I gave “Amber” some suggestions on food swaps to bring her carbs down a little bit and protein up a little bit.
We all want to make progress as quickly as possible, but it’s important to also think about how we’re going to maintain that progress afterwards.
And those two thoughts are typically not going to use the same approach.
When you’re ready, there are a couple ways we can help you…
1. Looking for home workouts? Download these 21 Bodyweight F.I.R.E. Workouts – 100% free.
2. Are you tired of struggling with your weight loss or frustrated with confusing and misleading information? Then it’s time to look into the Sustainable Weight Loss Coaching Experience, our 1-1 online coaching program – read more here.