Tracking your calories is point blank the most important thing you can do for yourself. If you’ve been lifting or working out and haven’t been getting results, I can tell you exactly why. It’s because you don’t track calories.
Today, I’m going to show you why you need to track your calories and how to do it depending on your goal. Let’s get into it.
Why You Need to Count Your Calories
“Why do I need to count my calories?” the fitness newbie asks. The answer is, you won’t make any progress if you don’t track what your body eats. It’s like a car- you use gas to run your car unless you drive an electric. There’s tons of different cars with different gasoline requirements, some require diesel, and others require regular. Your body is the exact same way. You won’t run and function without the proper fuel and if you put the wrong kind in, you could be in some serious trouble.
Let me show you what I mean.
Chad VS Jerry
Chad is a typical gym bro on a quest to get jacked. This guy lifts 6 days a week for muscle mass and is currently cutting down for a good summer body. He knows that he has to eat at a caloric deficit to shred fat, but he isn’t making any process. Chad stumbles across this blog and finds that he actually has to track his calories. He instantly starts tracking what he eats, and within 2 months, he’s already down to 10% bodyfat.
Jerry is the same as chad, they both want to be jacked. Jerry is also trying to cut down fat for a good summer body. He finds out how important it is to track calories, but unlike chad, he doesn’t end up counting them. Jerry is lazy and never ends up shredding down, so he’s fat for the whole beach season.
Although this is a quick example, you should start to be seeing why it is important to track your calories.
What gets measured gets managed.
A crazy principal that most lifters aren’t aware of is that 75% of your gains come from the kitchen, and the other 25% come from what you do in the weight room. You can’t have one without the other. If you eat like a shrimp you’ll end up getting skinny but with no muscle. Conversely, if you eat too much you’ll end up fat with no muscle. Combine a good diet with lifting and your results will 10x like you have never seen.
How Many Calories Should You Be Eating?
When it comes to counting calories you need to figure out your basal metabolic rate. This is how many calories your body requires per day. I personally like the Mifflin-St Jeor method the most.
The equation to the Mifflin-St Jeor method is BMR = 10W + 6.25H – 5A + 5.
That is a formula where you calculate your BMR. If you want to skip the math, I recommend you go to this calorie counter and plug in your information.
Lets say we have a hypothetical 18 year old who weighs 185 lbs and is 6′ tall. He is looking to gain 10 lbs of muscle.
According to that calculator, he requires 1,897 calories (we’ll round up to 1,900) to maintain weight. This however is assuming he is completely sedentary and doesn’t move. If he wants to gain weight, he should eat at a slight caloric intake to his bmr. Therefore, this hypothetical 18 year old should eat 2,400-2,500 calories a day to gain muscle mass slowly.
If he notices he is getting too fat he should eat less. However, if he notices that he can’t build muscle then he should increase his caloric intake.
This is a variable concept, so you will have to pay close attention to how your body responds and adjust accordingly.
How To Count Your Calories
A huge roadblock most people mention when I ask them why they don’t count calories is how they do it. It’s actually a lot easier than most people think.
Counting your calories isn’t rocket science, and it isn’t a waste of time either.
The most simple way to count your calories is to get a calorie counting app. I recommend my fitness pal, macros and fitbit. They’re all free to use and user friendly. Once you have one of these apps, you’ll want to enter in how many calories you need to consume each day. Now it’s time to start tracking.
When you finally get your meal, make sure and log it into your calorie counting app. Make it a habit after every meal to count your calories, even if you’re in a rush. I guarantee you, you don’t remember what you had for breakfast or lunch. The worst thing that can happen is you forget to log a meal, or two.
Once you’ve mad a habit of counting your calories, it’s super easy to track them. It only takes one time to break a habit, so be super consistent because counting calories is the key to getting jacked.
You don’t just have to track your calories, you have to track your macronutrients as well. Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Each of these play different roles in building muscle and staying healthy. For example: proteins are the building blocks of muscle in which you gain the most. Carbohydrates are your energy source while fats also store energy but make hormones and absorb vitamins as well.
You need to have all of these in your diet, unless you go on a fancy keto or caveman diet. There are tons of ways to distribute your macronutrients, and it’s not a one size fits all approach either. You can choose your distribution, but keep your protein intake high (at least 40% of above).
All in all, tracking your calories is the biggest key to getting jacked. While most people put in quality work in the weight room, very few put in work in the kitchen where it really matters. 75% of the gains come in the kitchen. Etch that into your skull. To calculate how many calories you personally should be eating, find your basal metabolic rate. Eat higher for more muscle, and less for fat loss. You can easily track your calories by installing a calorie counting app and making a habit out of tracking them. Make sure your protein intake is high when it comes to macronutrient distribution.
If you want to make progress, you have to track your calories. You are wasting time in the gym if you don’t. So- why don’t you start counting your calories right now?
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