Sustainable weight loss as a flexible eater is no walk in the park. Especially if you are new to calorie & macro tracking or have been through multiple years of restrictive dieting.
It’s a lot to learn and get down.
The foundation of flexible eating is calorie & macro tracking. Eating based on YOUR personalized calorie & macro goals for fat loss.
The advantages to tracking calories & macros for fat loss are:
-being able to eat enough food during the day
-not having to restrict certain food groups like carbohydrates
-not having to rely on following bland meal plans or eating in rigidly timed windows
-fat loss optimization
-not feeling like you’re on a “diet”
-being able to include a lot of variety in your diet since essentially, you can do whatever you want with your calories & macros
-learning how to eat in multiple different situations like parties, on vacation, work potlucks, or a family member’s house
-and learning NUTRITION which helps you learn how to not only lose weight but keep it off!
But all this requires calorie & macro tracking which is an effort since the responsibility lies on you for WHAT to be eating.
And this isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially in the beginning.
First, you have to figure out WHAT to eat each day. This starts with asking yourself- what do you enjoy making & eating? What can work for your schedule, family, and lifestyle? Do you feel nourished and happy with what you’re eating? Is there enough variety?
Once you select which foods you want to be eating, you then next have to align your selections with your calorie & macro goals.
This is why I created Flexible Eating 101 and Mastering Macros because it’s not easy to track calories & macros while making sure you’re hitting all the other moving parts to sustainable weight loss such as protein, hydration, and adequate fruit & vegetable intake.
But as overwhelming as I may be making it sound because I’m a huge fan of transparency, I promise that once you get into the swing of things and develop a routine that fits your lifestyle, it becomes SO much easier.
Each week and month of consistent effort pays off in huge ways. Ways that I described above. Ways that help you learn how to have a balanced relationship with food while losing weight!
By the time three months comes around, I have found that many of my students start to feel comfortable to back off on tracking or stop tracking altogether because the whole goal of tracking calories & macros in the first place is weight loss PLUS learning portion sizes for your body.
Learning portion sizes while losing weight gets you the point of feeling comfortable eyeballing certain foods or estimating how much to eat without ever knowing the exact calorie & macros for the food you’re eating. This is possible because you likely can provide a rough estimate of what the calories and/or at least protein looks like for that food.
This knowledge comes from the experience of calorie & macro tracking.
I sat in school for a solid seven years studying nutrition from the inside out and portion control still didn’t truly make sense to me until I implemented calorie & macro tracking in real life and selected what to eat, tracked it, and familiarized myself with food!
So back to the subject of this whole post, how long should you track calories & macros while losing weight.
As mentioned from my experience helping others, three months of continuous effort is a golden amount of time to start to feel like you’re learning this stuff and getting it down.
But I will say, it’s different for everyone. I’ve had students who continued to track for six months to feel comfortable, others who tracked for 1-2 months because they already had prior experience tracking, and others who have continued to track with adequate knowledge after three months because they still wanted to ensure they were eating enough food.
You should track for as long as you need to feel comfortable eating as a flexible eater for weight loss.
Learning portion sizes is learning the foundation of nutrition for your body. Your effort will pay off big-time in the future, so don’t be afraid of it not feeling easy in the beginning.
All great things take time!