I’m a weight loss coach and I never count calories. Guess what? YOU don’t need too either! So the question is how to lose weight without counting calories.
Yes, you read that correctly. As a personal trainer and online weight loss coach I do NOT count calories. Ever.
Let me get something straight though - if you DO count calories, that’s great! I’m not here to convince you that doesn’t work or is bad. I’m just here to remind you that you CAN maintain a lean, healthy weight and even lose weight without ever counting calories. Don’t believe me?
Check out how to lose weight without counting calories.
1. Most Restaurants Don’t Display Calorie Counts on Menus
Think about the last time you went out to eat at a restaurant. Did the menu contain calories counts of all the items on the menu? Yes, some restaurants ARE including calories on the menu, but the vast majority of restaurants leave this information off of the menu. It’s also important to remember that even when a menu DOES include calorie counts, it’s just an estimate. Serving sizes often vary from plate to plate so looking up the calorie count before you get to the restaurant is one of the best answers for how to lose weight without counting calories.
2. Recipes Don’t Always Contain Calorie Counts
Let’s say you’re cooking an awesome recipe you found on Pinterest. The recipe appears healthy because it contains 2 chicken breasts, a tablespoon of olive oil, 1 garlic clove, a few spices, and some assorted vegetables. But how many calories does it contain? Or, if there is a calorie count, what exactly does a serving size look like? This information usually isn’t found anywhere on the recipe. Are you supposed to add all of the calories of each individual ingredient together? I’m not sure about you, but that seems like a lot of work to me!
3. Counting Calories Doesn’t Measure the Nutrients in Foods
Current research suggests that the quality of food you consume is much more important than the quantity of food when it comes to losing weight. It’s important to remember that not all calories are created equally. For example, our bodies metabolize calories from chicken and carrots very differently than they do calories from cookies and ice cream.
You may eat 120 calories of ice cream, but those calories don’t tell you how much protein, or how many vitamins and minerals are found in the ice cream. In a similar way, you could eat 120 calories of cherries, but you have no idea how many antioxidants are found in the cherries. We do know that 120 calories of cherries is much better for our bodies than 120 calories of ice cream. Ultimately, counting calories can trick our minds into believing that any type of food we eat is nutritious, as long as it contains the correct amount of calories.
So—what’s the solution?
While counting calories can definitely be useful in certain situations, you DON’T need to count calories in order to learn how to properly portion out your meals.
The only tool I use to portion out my meals is my hand! Your hand is the perfect tool to use to measure portions because it’s proportional to the size of your body, and you have it with you everywhere - at work, at restaurants, and even on vacation.
These are the easiest ways to properly portion out food groups based on the size of your hand:
Protein: when measuring a serving of protein, use the palm of your hand as a guide. If your goal is to lose weight, be sure to include 1-2 palm-sized servings of protein with each meal.
Vegetables and Fruits: when measuring a serving of vegetables or fruits, use the size of your fist as a guide. Regardless of your health and fitness goals, try to include at least 4-5 fist-sized servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Whole Grains: when measuring a serving of whole grains (quinoa, 100% whole wheat, sweet potatoes), use a cupped hand as a serving size. If you’re trying to lose weight, include ½ to 1 cupped hand serving of complex carbohydrates with each meal.
Healthy Fats: when measuring a serving of healthy (unsaturated) fats, use your thumb to measure a portion. If you’re trying to lose weight, include ½ to 1 thumb-sized serving of healthy fats at every meal.
No matter whether you count calories or use your hand, the most important part of portioning out your meals is being sure you’re eating the correct amount of food AND the right types of food to reach your health and fitness goals.