Happy New Year! After reflecting on the last year, did you make some goals that were health and fitness related? I know I did! Have you ever wondered “Is it okay to not count calories?” or “How do I stop counting calories” because you are sick of the effort it takes and how consuming it is to plan every meal to the calorie? Well, we have some tips and tricks on how to get out of that mindset and towards macro tracking freedom in this blog post!
New Year, New You?
Ahhh, it is the time for resolutions. Resolutions aren’t a bad thing, but they are often unrealistic and unattainable. This results in the resolutions being dropped within a week of the new year. While this blog post isn’t about making smart resolutions that will last, we are going to debunk a common resolution that many athletes we know set. And that is, counting calories!
Counting calories is often one of the places that many people start on their nutrition journey. Looking online, many people support counting calories to meet performance, aesthetic and health goals. They often recommend putting a couple of numbers (height, weigh, etc) into an online calculator that spits out an estimated calculated number.
Oftentimes, these numbers have no science behind them (yes, you need more than 1200 calories) and are setting you up for failure from the beginning. If you are an athlete and work with a Registered Dietitian, you may have accurate calorie goals. But a number you see working for someone else will most likely not work for you! Our bodies are so different from one another: some of us are mothers, some of us are high school athletes, and there is no magic number of calories that we can all eat to meet our goals.
If you still need some convincing, here are some more reasons why you shouldn’t count calories.
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Count Calories
- It is time consuming.
- It can cause an eating disorder.
- It is most likely not super accurate.
- It does not account for micronutrients.
- It can create an unhealthy relationship with food.
- You may not be able to meet your goals with calorie counting alone.
- It is a stressor.
If it feels like I am preaching to the choir right now, here are some of my favorite ways to NOT count calories but still be health conscious about what you are eating.
Ways to Stay Healthy – How to Stop Counting Calories
There are many ways we like to recommend my clients to consciously make food choices. However, it is important to say that this is not an end all be all. It is okay to not listen to your “rules” all the time. This is something that is a game changer from calorie counting. Let’s get away from the idea that you have to be at a *specific* calorie amount to reach your goals.
With the proper nutrition education and mindset, it is very doable for you eat what you want without guilt AND still meet your performance goals. We help our athletes do that at RBSN with our positive nutrition and food forward strategies.
Here are some example goals that our athletes and clients set to stay healthy without counting calories
- Count the colors of your plate, I like to aim for at least 3. This increases your micronutrient intake, which is just as important as your calorie intake!
- Remain active. Being active and listening to your hunger cues will help you stay in check with what your body needs.
- Focus on your sleep quality. This is actually a huge factor in your metabolism and health, sleep matters!
- Using the Performance Plate Method.
The Performance Plate Method
The Performance Plate Method (PPM) is an easy way to make sure you are getting the macronutrients you need based on your training intensity throughout the day. There are three layouts, Rest Day, Practice Day, and Game Day. They all have different roles and have different makeups of foods that are modified based on your energy needs for the day.
When to use: Rest Day plates are used when you aren’t exercising or your movement is very minimal throughout the day. This does NOT include “easy” workout days or when you may be doing something you see as easy. When you use this plate you are not giving yourself the adequate nutrients, like carbohydrates, for recovery of physical activity. This is also not a plate that should be used when you are trying to gain weight or are in period recovery.
Rest Day Plate Layout:
- ½ plate of fruits/vegetables
- ¼ plate of lean protein
- ¼ plate of carbohydrates
- 2-3 servings of fat
When to use: Practice Day plates should be used on any day that you are engaging in training.
Practice Day Plate Layout:
- ⅓ plate fruits/vegetables
- ⅓ plate protein
- ⅓ plate carbohydrates
- 2-3 servings of fat
When to use: Surprise! Game Day plates can be used for other days than game days. The days you might include these foods would be hard practice days, 2-training session days, scrimmage days, for weight gain, and period recovery.
Game Day Plate Layout:
- ½ plate carbohydrates
- ¼ plate protein
- ¼ plate fruits/vegetables
- 1-3 servings of fat
Well, if you needed the push to delete your calorie tracker app, here it is! Go through this year experiencing food freedom and still being healthy now that you know how to stop counting calories. You may realize that this year is the best you feel, physically and mentally because you aren’t preoccupied with the thought of food. I hope you will take into consideration some of the recommendations, my favorite is the PPM because of its simplicity.
If you are looking for more resources or guidance on how to use the PPM and other nutrition tips to meet your goals, we just launched the RBSN Library, which has so many downloadable resources that you can use to make the best out of the new year! The entire library is also 20% off for the month of January!