Counting Calories the Modern Way

One of our members has been working pretty hard in the gym lately. Steve had also lost a significant amount of weight recently, so I asked him what was up (or down in this case).

He said he’s lost 70 pounds in the last six months. When I asked him how, he said “it was pretty simple.” He made a decision to turn it up in the gym, and was tracking his calories on MyFitnessPal.

I asked him if he had any advice for others. He said that anyone can do it, but “You’ve got to WANT to do it.” He knew he had to do it, but took him actually wanting to do it, before he found success.

MyFitnessPal happens to be the same app we recommend to our Biggest Losers, and the same one used by our most recent winner, Brett. It’s a free app, and in my opinion, the best and easiest to use.

A few months ago, things were a little slow one weekend. So I downloaded and test drove every free calorie counting app that was available for my iPhone in the App Store.

After loading a day’s worth of food into each one, I had a pretty good sense of how user friendly the app was. While there were some nice ones, none of them were perfect. In the end, I kept coming back to MyFitnessPal.

It was just way easier to use when logging my calories In. It had good functionality for calories Out, too. The search function for adding meals and exercises has a huge database and if what you need isn’t in there, it’s easy to add it.

The first few weeks, it might take a few minutes to use each time, while you build your personal database. But as more and more of your foods and activities are added, it gets quicker and easier to do. You also get better at it.

By the time you get two weeks under your belt, you’ll be flying, and it takes no more than a minute to add a meal or workout. You’ll set a daily calorie goal, and know exactly where you are for the day.

The most important thing is called “Calories Remaining.” This is found on top of the main page. If this is a positive number, you’re in a calorie deficit, and losing weight. If it’s a negative number, you’re going the wrong way.

To lose a pound a week, you need a daily deficit of 500 calories or more. That means you should see 500 calories remaining. If you can get to a 1,000 calories remaining, you’ll double your weight loss.

So each day, if you see that you’ve been overeating, you can choose to add some extra activity to burn it off. You’ll also know if you’re ahead for the day, or right on track.

Remember, it’s a combination of diet and exercise that really matters. It’s hard to do it on diet or exercise alone. It really takes both to get great results. That’s how Steve lost 70 lbs, and how Brett won the last Biggest Loser.

So like Steve and Brett, I’m still tracking my calories and workouts on MyFitnessPal. It helps me maintain my weight, or tighten things up when I need to.

And if you also have an activity tracker like the VivoFit or Garmin FitBit, you can really get a handle on things. Next week, I’ll give you the rundown on how these devices can change your life too.

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