Counting calories has long been a popular method for successful weight loss. As fad diets have come and gone, the calorie counting method has endured, and the reason is quite simple: weight loss boils down to calories in vs. calories out. When you burn more calories than you consume, you achieve a calorie deficit, which in turns help you drop a few unwanted lbs. No matter which fad diet you choose, or how much you exercise, you will struggle to lose weight if you’re not taking in fewer calories than your body burns overall. That’s why food and fitness trackers help so many people lose weight and keep it off.
Most of us aren’t really aware of what constitutes an appropriate portion sizes to achieve their goals or what subsequent maintenance look like, let alone how many calories we burn weightlifting or in a fitness class. Even the calorie count on a treadmill or other cardio machine isn’t entirely accurate unless you’ve input your height, weight, activity level, etc.
But anyone who has used food trackers to monitor their food intake or fitness trackers to keep an eye on their exercise habits can tell you that it’s absolutely effective for long-term weight loss. Thankfully, the days of meticulously keeping a hand-written food journal complete with exact calorie counts are a thing of the past. These days, there are countless apps and programs that offer user-friendly platforms for tracking and counting calories. Take Noom, a popular health and fitness program which builds custom weight loss plans for users, complete with in-app tools like food and fitness trackers, make it much easier to keep track of what you eat and how you work out each day. Here are a few of the reasons it works:
It makes you more mindful. Many of us tend to consume excess calories without even realizing it. Those few tastes you had while cooking dinner or that sip of your partner’s soda you swiped add up over the course of a day. If you’re using a food tracker you’ll be paying closer attention to what you put in your mouth which will likely deter you from eating when you’re not really hungry or drinking empty calories that you didn’t plan for.
It educates you. Once you’ve been tracking calories and fitness for a couple of weeks, you’ll start to internalize the approximate calorie count for certain portion sizes and roughly how many calories you can burn during a 30-minute workout. That means you’ll be able to quickly estimate whether you’re on track or going overboard on any given day. Even once you’re in maintenance mode and no longer tracking, you’ll still have a general idea of how many calories are in a certain dish or portion, which can naturally keep you from overeating.
It doesn’t deprive you. Tracking food rather than dieting gives you room to eat whatever you want, when you want, so you won’t feel deprived, which will lead to more success gains. So if you go out for burgers and milkshakes with your coworkers at lunch, you can feel free to enjoy yourself, knowing that you can make up for it by having a salad and water for dinner and still stay within your ideal calorie range, or get in a good high-intensity workout after you clock out so that you can offset some of your indulgence. Not having to deal with food guilt (and nobody should!) can lead to much more lasting success.
It’s encouraging. Being able to see your efforts and progress in words and numbers daily provides tangible encouragement. You can see daily achievements right there in front of you and even if you go off course on any given day, you can look still take a look at the bigger picture any time you want to see that while you may not have met your goals on a particular day, you still met your overall goals for the week or month. People find that when they feel like giving up, they can turn to fitness trackers to see that what they’ve been doing is actually paying off and creating positive changes and habits that are moving them closer to their goals.
It’s easier to re-evaluate. If you’ve been actively losing weight for a while but the rate of loss has suddenly slowed down or even plateaued, tracking can help you quickly and easily re-evaluate and adjust your plan, especially if you’re using a program like Noom. You can typically enter your current weight and your goal weight along with a date by which you want to reach your goal and Noom will adjust your daily calorie limit and the amount of exercise you need in order to get over the plateau and achieve your goal on time — and safely. So instead of being discouraged by the slow down, fitness trackers like these help empower you to make the changes necessary to overcome it!