I want to start this off by pointing out that I do not think you should live on a strictly calorie counting diet. For those who are trying to achieve a very specific goal, like body builders, calorie counting may be necessary. But even in these exceptional cases, calorie counting should be restricted to coincide with competition dates, and should not be continued forever. That being said, I do believe that understanding what a ballpark caloric intake looks like for your goals can aid in helping achieve weight and fitness goals.
When setting yourself up with a nutrition plan that will help you reach your goals, the amount of food you’re eating is only one of five key practices to successful eating habits.
- How much are you eating? (ex: How many calories are you eating?)
- How are you eating? (ex: How many meals are you eating per day?)
- Why are you eating? (ex: Are you eating because your hungry, or stressed?)
- What are you eating? (ex: Do you know your carb vs fat vs protein intake?)
- Are you consistent? (ex: Is your healthy eating habit torture to you? If you it may be time to look at a more sustainable option?)
Although all five of these habits are important, I would consider consistency the biggest key and the practice you should focus on building your nutrition plan around. The biggest reason fad diets either don’t work, or only provide short term results is that they do not carry over into long term healthy eating habits. All of my clients who have tried fad diets prior to us working together found them unsustainable because they were too restrictive, or found that after completing the diet they swung so far in the other direction that they lost all of their progress.
Once you have built a baseline understanding of what your calorie intake should look like, these infographics from Precision Nutrition can be helpful in planning out your meals. Understanding what the right amount of food and food group you should be eating in each meal can aid in helping build habits for long term success.
If you would like to learn more about nutrition coaching options reach out to me on my contact page and using the subject line “Nutrition Coaching”.