- Scanning a product and it comes up with something completely different like suntan lotion.
- The target calories/macros MyFitnessPal provides are inaccurate and done off percentages.
- Your food choice is not in their database resulting in you having to input it manually.
- Even if it is in their database it is completely wrong.
- Using your phone whilst preparing food, resulting in your phone getting covered in food.
- When you have no internet you can not use the app to it’s full potential.
- Spending time planning a meal on your phone, being an antisocial git.
- Some people thinking you're weird for counting calories on your phone.
Pros and Cons To Counting Calories!
Before I start let me explain that when it comes to changing your body weight, calories matter. Calories in > Calories out = Weight gain Calories in < Calories out = Weight loss However, in order to optimise health, performance and body composition goals, macronutrients must be optimised as well. This is the grams of protein, fat and carbs you are consuming. So when I speak of counting calories in this article I am using calories and macronutrients interchangeable. Counting or controlling calories and macronutrients is a great method to track and monitor your diet along with assessing your progress. (1) So understand that fat loss or weight gains comes down to calories in vs calories out first and foremost, before food quality. So without further ado here some serious and light hearted pros and cons to counting macros. Pro - Provides a measure Tracking macros over a set period of time, 2 weeks for example, allows you to work a measurable variable that you can relate back to. It allows you to evaluate your weight/progress/performance eating ‘X’ amount of macros, and if any changes are required. Sure, numbers change over time, but some people have no idea what their maintenance calories are or even what calories are. Con - Stressful Let’s face it, tracking food everyday can be stressful, confusing and demotivate you at times. Of course you do not want to be tracking every day for the rest of your life, but even for short periods of time it can be too much of a requirement for some. It can be especially stressful when you don’t have control over the cooking or buying of the food. Times like this should not be stressful but for some it takes a while to realise social events and eating out is not a stressful event within a calorie controlled diet. Pro - Education One common theme amongst dieters is simply not having knowledge of calories, macronutrients, food quality, vitamins, minerals, fibre etc etc. Many individuals do not realise how many calories are present in say a caramel macchiato or in that full laden sandwich from the store. Counting macros and looking at the nutritional labels educates someone of food quality, along with macronutrient (pro/fat/carbs) content. This leads to people underestimating their calorie/macro intake when not tracking and even overestimating their protein intake, due to a lack of education. Many are simply not eating the required protein amount for their goals, therefore improving education can help a lot. Therefore weighing your food over time will give you a solid idea of what 100g of chicken breast looks like, how much protein it contains, and how many calories it has, for example. Weighing also helps you know which foods are high in fibre, and what the macros are in your favourite dessert. This will greatly improve your knowledge of your food intake. Con - Drains your phone battery Unless you are a maths boff and can calculate everything and keep a tally in your head, you will probably use a phone app like MyFitnessPal to count for you. However, a down side of this will be constantly using your phone and changing quantities, draining your phone battery. Pro - You realise no food is off limits Counting calories highlights the fact of the importance of calories in deterring weight change to you. When you count calories you apply no food choice restrictions. You realise that there is no such thing as ‘clean’ or ‘bad’ food and any food can be eaten in moderation and not affect your goals, as long as it is part of a calorie controlled diet. Counting macros allows you to factor in your favourite type of food in moderation, allowing you enjoy and stick to your diet. Con - To focused on macros and not food quality Related to the point above is when someone starts to focus on hitting numbers they can sometimes get caught up in trying to factor in all their favourite ‘junk’ food and forget about food quality. For example, forgetting about fruit and veg, the benefits of oily fish, fibre, etc etc . So we need to focus on food quality and caloric intake, not just one, when counting calories. Pro - Increases awareness of eating for fullness By counting calories you become more aware of eating for fullness and choosing high volume to calories ratio foods, for example potatoes, veggies, fruit, rice, etc etc. This ultimately leads to better food choices and reducing the likelihood of feeling hungry. Con - You can become very obsessive There are many problems with ‘clean’ eating which I have spoken of before (I Love To Eat Dirty!) but one of the problems with calorie counting can be the obsession with hitting the numbers bang on every day and weighing every food to the closest gram. This can result in the feeling of guilt if you do not achieve this. However, counting calories should not result in you becoming stressed and pissed off because you have accidentally eaten +1g of rice. Being in the military and holding high standards I find this con very applicable to myself. I have only recently come to terms with realising going +/-5g over or under your targets will make no difference in the long run. It is consistency that matters, being within a range will have more benefits both physically and mentally, than hitting the number spot on every day of the year. Pro - Provides targets Providing daily targets and goals is all part of the process of achieving your goals. Setting long term goals is key to success but focusing too much on the final end point and not on smaller daily goals along the journey, can hinder progress and cause you stressful and even demotivated periods of time. This is why setting daily macro targets can be beneficial for keeping someone motivated throughout the journey, and keeping them driven. Process driven - ‘a set of logically related tasks performed to achieve a defined outcome’ For those who like structure and set routines/plans, having to log their meals and track intake each day can provide something they can achieve. Con - Addicted to sharing food on social media When you first realise that you can factor a brownie, or tub of ice-cream into your daily macros you become obsessed with sharing photos/statuses on social media and highlighting the fact that you can eat this stuff while achieving your goals. Nothing wrong with this but be prepared to drain your phone battery posting and following other foodies. Pro - In my opinion, necessary to optimise body composition To get to the extremes of body composition for photos shoots or competition, I think tracking macros consistently and closely is necessary. Con - MyFitnessPal There are certain problems when you use MyFitnessPal for example -