Tracking Calories by Personal Trainer: Jay Robinson


Tracking calories

A lot of people ask me “do I have to track calories to lose fat or gain muscle or can I just eat clean?”
First off, eat clean? What do you mean, do you break out the bleach??

In my opinion, there is no “clean” or “dirty foods”.  So hypothetically a person can be eating “clean” foods on a daily basis without any idea of how much or how little they are consuming. It is very hard to consistently make gains or lose body fat with this type of dieting.

Now if you are someone who prefers to eat clean, that’s fine, you can absolutely do that. Just track what you eat on a daily basis and know how much you need to consume in order to achieve your personal goals. 

Now saying that, realistically, the person who eats “clean” for an extended period of time will more than likely have cravings eventually and end up “binge eating” and gaining a substantial amount of body fat. But, the person who allows themselves to explore different foods and satisfy cravings on a day to day basis will more than likely end up being able to maintain that type of dieting and keep their hard earned muscle and/or fat loss. Now a rule of thumb is that I diet is made up of 90% whole foods comprised of 1-2 servings of veg with each meal and essential fatty acids. The other 10% day to day if desired can be something like a chocolate bar or a small pizza.

So tracking food intake.

A lot of people say, “oh well it’s really hard to keep track of everything I eat every day.” It’s really not. Nowadays food diary apps and calculators enable you to track everything you eat. So try tracking your food intake on a day to day basis and watch your body to assess how it changes. Apps and online calculators like this will give you a reasonable estimate of your TDEE (Today Daily Energy Expenditure) which is how much food you need to be consuming in order to gain muscle, maintain your current weight or loose body fat based on how physically active you are. It will also give you an estimate on the amounts of macronutrients to consume. Try focusing on tracking macro's first as opposed to calories as you will be tracking calories by default anyway. Another reason for this is that different amounts of macro's do have an effect on overall body composition.

A typical daily surplus of calorie intake from your TDEE for gaining lean muscle mass is up to maximum 300kcal, unless you have had trouble gaining weight for the lucky few. 
A typical calorie deflect starting off for loosing body fat would be about 500kcal below maintenance. 

If you notice yourself gaining too much fat too quickly cut back on calories and if you notice yourself losing weight too quickly increase calories slightly as you want to minimize any muscle loss when dieting. 

It’s also always important to pay close attention to your own body and notice how certain foods have an effect on you. You know your body best. Certain foods can have different effects on certain people so when people say, ‘I cut out bread because I retain loads of water’, that’s absolutely fine.
Hope this was helpful to everyone.
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