Three of the Biggest Mistakes People Make When Counting Calories to Lose Weight
I see and hear about it time and time again — counting calories “doesn’t work” for someone, even though they think they did everything right.
Turns out, most people incorrectly/accidentally do one or more of the following:
Underestimate the amount of calories you consume during the day. Did you know that the FDA allows for essentially a 20% variance in the nutritional information posted on the food label (including calorie content!) you see on food packaging? So before you even start to track every single bit of food that you eat (which most struggle with anyway), your calorie count is probably already off.
The calories that you track and enter and select on calorie counting sites like MyFitnessPal, MyPlate, Calorie Count, etc., will always just be estimates. That’s why I’ve always recommended not obsessing over the exact number of calories you’ve eaten at the end of the day and just make sure you’re a little under when you go to bed. If you aim to eat 2,000 calories a day, for example, eat about 10% less — or 1,800 — and more than likely you’ll be closer to 2,000 anyway.
Overestimate the amount of calories you burn during exercise. The treadmill, elliptical, and CrossTrainer machines all lie to you — you’re probably not burning 800 calories in those 30 minutes like they’re telling you. To accurately track the amount of calories you burn, you’ll have to invest in technology that stays attached to you and closely monitors your physical activity.
Alternatively, you could just remember that counting calories and losing weight for that matter is 90% the amount of calories you consume, not how many you burn.
Set high expectations and expect to lose 100 pounds in a month. We’ve all got to get out of the New Year’s resolution mindset that our dreams will be reached in a few weeks with a few big changes. The best advice I can give you is that you’ll lose 100 pounds, or buy that dream house of yours, or get the girl/boy of your dreams not by making numerous major adjustments over a period of few days, but by making a few minor lifestyle changes slowly over a long period of time.
Wake up a little earlier to go to the gym. Eat a few less calories during football games. Play with your kids for 10 minutes in the yard after work.
Those kinds of things add up.