Calorie Counting. The most achievable and yet super dreaded diet. It’s simple but it’s far from easy. There are hundreds of apps out there to help you calorie count. Some people shed hundreds of pounds doing, while others struggle. So what’s the difference?
Some of it is the way you are made. We each have body differences that are unique and there’s no one size fits all formula to weight loss. However, these 10 mistakes may be the reason you’re struggling on your calorie counting diet.
I’ve used the MyFitnessPal app since college. Even now that I have a Fitbit that I absolutely love, I still track in MyFitnessPal and sync to my Fitbit app. I do this because I like the way MyFitnessPal breaks down nutrients information.
The 10 Calorie Counting Mistakes that are Killing Your Diet
1. Restricting Too Tightly
Restricting too tightly can do some terrible things to your body. It can shut down your metabolism and force your body to store whatever you are eating because it thinks it may starve.
So what do you do instead? You are meant to eat! So eat! Quit thinking of food as a number of calories being injected and start asking yourself if the food is fuel or not. Meats, vegetables and fruits make awesome fuel. Fried foods, sugars, and junk food make you feel bad and won’t fuel you very well. So make the distinction and stop restricting the fuels your body needs.
2. Not Measuring Amounts
This something I see a lot when people use calorie counting apps. There are so many preset amounts in the apps that some people never bother to change it. Sure a serving of ice cream is 120 calories, but did you see that the serving size is 1/2 cup?? (By the way, who eats just a 1/2 cup of ice cream???). If you logged that one serving of ice cream but you really ate 3 heaping one cup scoops, then you just lied to yourself, even if it’s unintentional.
The same could be said of the creamer in your coffee. I mean who knows if you just put in the recommended one tiny tablespoon or 5? You want it to taste good, don’t you?
So what do you do instead? If you are serious about wanting to lose weight, it’s time to pull out the measuring cups and spoons. It’s time to know how much of what you are putting in your body. Also, it’s time to seriously read some labels. If you are snacking on something, read how much a serving size is. You’ll be surprised that junk food companies have cut a lot of serving sizes down. It may say 120 calories on the front of your soda bottle, but there may be 3 servings in the bottle. Read your labels. Serving sizes matter.
3. Substituting for No Calorie Foods / Drinks
Pretty much the only time this is good for you is water. Once while on a calorie counting kick, I thought I’d hack it by switching my Dr. Pepper to Diet Dr. Pepper. I could drink it all day and it still said 0 calories! Yummy and no calories, a win right? Nope. I felt like crap and I’ll tell you I won’t ever go back to drinking diet sodas like that again.
So what do you do instead? Stop cheating yourself of your results by pretending you get a free pass on certain foods and drinks. There’s a ton of research out there about how bad artificial sweeteners can be for you.
4. Believing Restaurant Calories are Always Accurate
This is huge. Calorie Counting apps have done a marvelous job of incorporating common restaurant foods into their system. It makes tracking on the go a breeze! But you have to be careful. Eating out all the time may be killing your diet even if you think you’re within your calorie goal.
I once watched a documentary where restaurant chefs were explaining how they pile on extra butter, sugar or salt that wasn’t in their preset recipes to make it taste better for guests. I’m sure the clueless guests enjoyed the taste but their waist was paying the price!
Another television example, I watched an Undercover Boss, where a smoothie barista at a gym added extra syrup to supposedly healthy smoothies to make them taste better. I’m sure it helped, but again it isn’t the set amount of calories your app is telling you that you are getting.
So what do you do instead? Eat at home when possible. And when you have to eat out, choose items that are meant to be healthy and low calorie. Many restaurants have specific sections for low calorie or healthy eaters.
5. Omitting Calories
I am so guilty of this one. Sometimes if I eat something that seems small or inconsequential I won’t log it. Or, if I track some snacks, but then go back later and get more, I won’t update the amount I had. It may not seem like a big deal, but if it happens consistently, you may be eating enough in these small unrecorded bursts to make yourself gain weight instead of losing it.
So what do you do instead? Again, if you’re serious about this, then when you eat it, you have to record it.
6. Not Calculating Outgoing Calorie Measurements
Counting outgoing calories is almost as important as counting incoming ones for two reasons. First, of the same reasons as mentioned in the first point, you don’t want to under eat for your activity level. It’s okay to consume 2,000+ calories a day if you are a serious athlete, work out a lot, or have a labor intensive job. Don’t restrict too much or you won’t have the fuel you need.
Second, you don’t want to overestimate how much you do in a day. Maybe you think you have a super active job, but you only work that job two to three days a week. Make sure you aren’t compensating for your tough gym routine during your off season while you are sitting watching Netflix on your couch.
So what do you do instead? Get a smart watch or activity tracker. When I fist got mine, it was an eye opening experience. I thought I was super active and burned a lot of calories. I was shocked at how few steps I took in a day without working at it. If you can’t get a smart watch, then go ahead and track your workouts in your calorie counting app. Most have the ability to do this.
7. Believing All Calories are Created Equal
So you have no problem keeping your calorie goal, but you’re still not seeing results? Your app says you should be losing but you’re gaining? It comes down to the fuel versus junk that I mentioned earlier.
Consider this: Both of these are 1,500 calorie days (per MyFitnessPal app)
- 1 cup Cocoa Pebbles – 160 cal
- 1 cup Whole Milk – 150 cal
- 16 ounces Orange Juice – 220 cal
- McDonalds Double Cheeseburger – 440 cal
- McDonalds Medium Fries – 380 cal
- McDonalds Small Coke – 150 cal
OR for 3 full meals plus 2 snacks for 1455 calories
- 2 Medium Scrambled Eggs – 150 cal
- 2 Slices of Ham – 140
- 1 Medium Grapefruit – 60 cal
- 1 Black Coffee – 5 cal
- Protein Shake – 160 cal
- Chic Fil A 12-count Grilled Nuggets – 200 cal
- Chic Fil A Medium Fruit Cup – 50 cal
- 1 Medium Apple – 80 cal
- 6 ounce Homemade Steak – 320 cal
- Side Salad with Ranch – 250
- 1 cup Steamed Broccoli – 40 cal
On the second option, you eat more, preventing yourself from being hungry but fueling your body to get things done. The first option is only 2 normal American meals! But that’s all you get in the day. You’ll go hungry! Remember it’s about fuel not numbers!
8. Drinking Your Calories
Just don’t do it! It will cause you to lose valuable calories that could have been used on nutritious food. It may also cause you to under-eat in a day if you count too many calories toward beverages. Besides most beverages with high calorie counts have sugar, corn syrup or artificial sweeteners that you don’t need anyways. Drinking these types of drinks may get in the way of your necessary water!
So what should you do instead? Make a water goal for yourself. If you keep hydrating yourself with water at meals and throughout the day, you’ll lose your need for sugary drinks!
9. Not Paying Attention to MacroNutrients
It was shocking to me when I started paying attention to the macro nutrients that I was consuming on my calorie counting diet. I was almost two or three times my daily sugar allotment! Every. Day. You could say I have a sweet tooth… I began to recognize that even when I was within my calorie goal, I was clogging my insides with more sugar than it was meant to handle. This was throttling my results.
So what do you do instead? Look at your macronutrients and find your weaknesses! Learn what you’re doing well and in what areas you need to improve. Then find recipes that will help you get more of what you need such as vitamins and protein, and less of the carbs and sugars when you are overdoing it.
10. Forgetting to Drink and Track Your Water
You need your water. Period. Drinking water will help you feel full, keep away cravings and help you get rid of the junk in your body that needs to go. Drink and track your water! It’s a must!
What to do when you’re ready to win at your calorie counting diet?
Second, try using our FREE Habit Tracker Printables to keep you on track! Track days without soda, dessert or think of your own habit to build! Subscribe below to have your copy sent to your inbox.
Third, one of the best diet plans I have ever tried is the Whole 30. It is super hard to maintain, but nothing has made me feel better or been so quick with results. It’s not for the faint of heart though!
Click here to learn more about the Whole 30.
*Note: the author of this article is not a doctor and none of the tips and tricks above is a replacement for sound medical advise from your primary care physician. This is simply me sharing my experiences, hoping to help out others.
Subscribe to JJ Lauren’s Loves and receive your FREE Habit Tracker Printables!