Counting calories is rarely a long-term solution.
You can disguise “counting” any way you wish.
You can call it:
We almost always start off our online clients with a counting regimen.
This is especially useful if they have never counted their calories or their macronutrients before.
While the argument can be made that everyone should count calories at some point in their life, continuously counting becomes a drag.
Eventually, you want to move away from measuring out each morsel of food to a more instinctive, intuitive approach.
But what happens if you’ve tried counting your calories, and it simply doesn’t fit your personality or your lifestyle?
What should you do if the mere thought of counting calories causes the anxiety to creep into your consciousness?
We have been getting client inquiries on a regular basis from people who are not interested in counting their macronutrients – or their calories.
In these situations, you need a gameplan. And “eat clean” is pretty much the worst gameplan on earth.
Let’s create a “No-Calorie Counting Diet” that will help you shred fat and lean out for good.
The Benefits To Calorie Counting
Before we go about creating a fat loss plan that doesn’t require counting calories, we need to acknowledge and address the benefits to calorie counting.
Calorie counting in any form is a worthwhile endeavor, especially if you’ve never done so before.
There seems to be a pattern which emerges when someone gets serious and decides to tackle their waistline.
You first adhere to vague parameters such as:
- Eat “healthy”.
- This often means eating “fad” foods or “superfoods”.
- This approach is “binary” – it’s either “good” or it’s “bad”, with no grey area in between.
- This is often the first approach a “dieter” takes due to “availability bias”.
- Example of “availability bias” – Articles on what foods are “healthy/unhealthy” are readily available at most media outlets, so we tend to follow them first.
- “Eliminate” bad foods.
- This often means restricting yourself based on a catchy book, magazine, or biased friend/relative.
- This approach is fear based. It is based on the (incorrect) logic that specific foods in isolation will make you gain weight.
- This can mean no sugar, no wheat, no gluten, no carbohydrates, no GMO’s/”chemicals”, eating “Paleo”, etc.
- This is often the second approach a “dieter” takes. After losing some weight eating “healthy”, they plateau a bit. They need something to “kickstart” their progress.
- Since eliminating most junk food helped (when they began to eat “healthy”), this is naturally the next step in the progression. If eliminating most junk worked, then eliminating all the bad things will work even better, right?
The above approaches aren’t bad methods to begin improving your health.
But there are issues with each of these approaches that need to be taken into consideration.
When you are “eating healthy”, or “eating clean”, you are often of the mindset that harsh deprivation is the way to permanent leanness.
The diets tend to be unsustainable, since you will be denying yourself of foods you enjoy. You will also be denying yourself important macronutrients, if you are obsessive about keeping your carbohydrate intake minimal.
People get into a vicious cycle.
First, they deprive.
Then, they get results.
Eventually, they “crack” due to the restriction.
Finally, after they “right the ship”, they hop back on the same cycle again, hoping that this time they will have more “willpower” to fight their urges.
Fat loss gets progressively difficult over time. If you have 200 pounds to lose, the first 100 will come off with small, habitual changes such as a walking regimen and eliminating between meal snacking.
But each pound that comes off makes the next pound progressively more difficult.
Once you’ve cleared off the initial weight, your approach needs to become fine tuned.
When you’re down to your final 30 pounds, precise focus on your goals and a constant mindfulness of your training and diet will be required to keep the scale and the body measurements moving in the right direction.
This is where calorie counting comes into the picture.
The reason “eating healthy” and “eating clean” works so well – at the start – is that it inadvertently lowers your calories. If you’re eliminating junk food, minimizing snacking, reducing your liquid calories, and burning off a few calories as well, of course you’ll lose weight.
But the relationship isn’t causal – it’s a correlation.
It can be easily confused as causal, though – as we think it’s the absence of certain foods (or the inclusion of other, “superfoods”) which are causing your good fortune and steady results.
Calorie counting will show you exactly how this happens.
The first week on a properly calculated diet will show you exactly how many calories you should be eating in order to lose fat properly.
It’s always eye-opening to see how little food we actually need to be nourished.
But this article isn’t about creating a calorie counting diet. If you wish to try one out, take our free fat loss course.
This article is what to do if that just won’t fit your lifestyle.
How should you approach your diet if you can’t – or you won’t – count calories?
Creating Your “No-Counting Diet Plan”
Before we begin with our first step, let’s discuss the idea that EVERY diet needs to tackle: calories count.
Calories are a measure of the energy content food contains.
Zero calorie food products do not contain energy; therefore, they do not contain calories. By definition, they cannot cause weight gain if they are eaten.
Conversely, if you eat too many calories, you will gain weight. It matters not whether those calories come from “superfoods” like avocados and eggs, or processed junk like Reese’s Cups and Oreo’s.
Dieting, at its core, is about variable manipulation.
You need to find a way to keep your variables constant in order to adequately gauge your progress.
This is another powerful benefit of calorie counting. With a consistent intake, adjustments are simple.
We need to be sure we are getting relatively close to a consistent caloric intake, even though we won’t be directly counting them.
Step 1: Plan your meal frequency.
How many times will you eat each day?
The more meals you eat each day, the smaller your meals can be.
The less meals you eat each day, the bigger your meals can be.
Create your meal times and stick to them like glue – weekends included.
- Between 2-4 meals per day works for most people.
- 2-meal format – intermittent fasting format. Skip breakfast, eat lunch and dinner.
- 3-meal format
- Can be Intermittent Fasting (if you are an ideal candidate) – skip breakfast, eat lunch, dinner, and 2nd dinner.
- Can be traditional – breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- 4-meal format
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner – with one “extra” meal.
- Often between lunch and dinner (or post-workout).
- “Extra” meal can also be placed post-dinner/before bed.
These are your meal frequency plans for each day.
You will then need to decide if you will be having “snacks” in between meals.
If you will be eating a snack daily, you will need to decide where that will go as well.
The “snacking” option is usually used only with 2 and 3-meal formats.
Step 2: Plan your protein – at every “meal”.
On a diet, you need protein.
Protein fills you up, gives you a steady supply of energy, keeps your muscle on your frame, helps you burn fat, etc.
Eat protein at every “meal”.
- Make one meal per day a “fattier” protein source. Suggestions:
- Ground beef/burger
- Cut of beef/steak
- Pork shoulder
- Chicken thighs/legs
- Make the other meals a “leaner” protein source. Suggestions:
- Chicken breast
- Turkey breast
- Lean pork
Step 2.5: Plan your “snacks” (if you have them).
If you are choosing to utilize a snack in your gameplan, you need to have parameters for a snack.
Letting a “snack” turn into a bag of potato chips is an easy way to derail your diet.
What will your “snack” look like?
Whatever you decide your “snack” should be, stick to those guidelines.
- One piece (or serving of) fruit
- 4 ounces of lean meat
- A piece of string cheese/a few slices of cheese
- Low-calorie yogurt
- One, small handful (NO MORE) of nuts
- A sandwich bag full of your favorite veggie, such as:
Step 3: Plan your veggies – at every meal.
Vegetables are your friend when dieting.
They contain fiber, they fill you up, and they have low calories.
Directly, they don’t cause fat loss, but they make fat loss easier to endure.
Eat a variety of the following vegetables (at least 1 per meal):
***Note – these won’t count as “carbs” in our set-up; eat your veggies and enjoy them.
Step 4: Plan your fruit.
Fruit is a good idea when dieting as well.
It’s not a requirement – but it can be a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth with minimal calories.
Fruit doesn’t cause fat gain, but it’s higher calorie than veggies.
Be intelligent with fruit. Don’t fear it, but don’t go crazy.
- 1-2 pieces of fruit each day, eaten at the meal (or snack) of your choice.
Step 5: Plan your carbohydrates wisely.
We do not recommend “keto” or “VLC” (very low carb) diets.
We want our clients to train hard. Carbohydrates help make that happen.
Carbohydrates are easy to eat, though, and provide lower satiety (fullness) than protein or fat.
This can be a dangerous combination when dieting.
Make nearly all of your carbohydrates whole food choices, and eat 1-2 servings per meal at most.
1-2 servings of carbohydrates at each meal (you will need to determine “one serving”):
- Rice – white or brown
- Potatoes – white or sweet
Step 6: Plan your “treats”.
You will not be able to deprive yourself of foods you enjoy forever.
You will need to satisfy your cravings.
The catch is, you’ll need to satisfy your tastebuds, not your stomach.
If you’re eating your “treats” until you’re full, it won’t work.
Learn to enjoy and savor the taste of your treats.
That’s how treats were meant to be enjoyed.
- Once per week (twice, max), plan a one-serving treat of something you enjoy.
- Possible “treats”:
- Half cup of ice cream
- 3-4 cookies
- Small bowl of potato chips/crackers
- 2-3 alcoholic beverages
- One regular-sized slice of pizza
- Small piece of cake
This is our last step in creating your fat-loss meal plan.
You will notice there is a glaring omission: extra fats.
We do not recommend – at all – the addition of pure fat into a diet which is set up for fat loss.
Even though “healthy fats” are all the rage, adding in coconut oil, olive oil, butter, etc., simply adds calories where they don’t need to be added.
Our firm recommendation is to have your fat intake be a byproduct of your food.
Do not add extra calories for no reason.
Once Step 6 is taken care of, you have your basic set-up for a “No-Counting Diet Plan”.
You will need to adhere to the parameters you have created.
Remember from earlier – a diet plan helps control the variables which are at your disposal.
You will need to stick to the plan in order to make proper adjustments.
Which reminds me……………….
Making Adjustments During Your “No-Counting Diet Plan”
You will need to be sure you’re losing fat when you begin your diet.
Be sure you aren’t relying on the scale.
Take body measurements consistently, and follow our guidelines if you’re not sure how to appropriately track your progress and determine your fat loss rate.
If you find yourself stalled out, you will need to make an adjustment.
When you’re counting your calories, adjustments are a simple case of mathematics.
This can’t be done when you’re not counting, though.
We will need to find another way to reduce our calories indirectly.
Here are some possible methods of reducing your calories when you are not counting calories:
- If you’re eating a whole food carbohydrate source at each meal, adjust this first.
- This can mean going from 2 servings per meal to 1 serving per meal.
- This can also mean eliminating the carbohydrate source from 1 meal per day.
- If you’re eating a snack, eliminate it.
- If you’re eating 3 meals, reduce your meals to 2. Or perhaps 2 meals and a snack.
- If you’re eating a fattier protein source at one of your meals, change it to a leaner protein source.
Any of these options will help you reduce your overall calorie intake.
Our recommendation is that you pick one of these adjustments and stick to it.
Counting calories can be beneficial to someone with the proper mindset.
If you’ve never counted calories – or macronutrients – we highly suggest you give it a shot.
If you’ve already tried counting, and you found it to be difficult to maintain, or it caused you unwarranted stress and anxiety, you’re not alone.
Perhaps a “No-Counting Diet Plan” is just what you need to succeed.
If you wish to have a “No-Counting Diet Plan” set up for you, shoot us a message.
Yours in not counting,