When you’re trying to lose weight, managing how much you eat is key. But between counting macros and calories, using portioning methods and mindful or intuitive eating, it can be tough to figure out which method works best for you.
“The most important factor to consider is what will work for you long term,” says Mary-Catherine LaBossiere, RD. “The method you choose should be something you can implement for a while, so you don’t crash and burn and continue a yo-yo dieting cycle.” To help figure out what’s sustainable for you and your individual weight-loss journey, we asked weight-loss experts about the pros and cons of each approach.
In this approach, you log everything you eat in an app or journal. The MyFitnessPal app makes food logging a breeze by allowing you to set your desired macro breakdown and premium features, like meal scan, let you simply take a photo of your meal to log it seamlessly.
It’s possible to count calories without tracking macros, but because each macro has a certain number of calories per gram for protein, fat and carbs, you automatically count calories when you count macros. The drawback of only counting calories is you may not get an appropriate balance of protein, carbs and fat. For instance, you might eat mostly fat and carbs without much protein, which is an important part of any fat-loss diet. Many people weigh and measure their food as precisely as possible to get more accurate calorie and macro counts.
There are several ways to count portions, including using your hand or dividing your plate up into sections. Some people also use measuring cups or other ways of portioning out their food or snap photos of their plates in order to keep themselves accountable to reasonable portions. The idea isn’t necessarily that you’re tracking everything you eat the way you would with calories and macros, but instead, you’re eyeballing how much you eat at each meal based on whichever portion guide you choose.
Technically, intuitive eating isn’t meant to be used for weight loss. In fact, some people gain weight when they follow the intuitive eating method because it’s more focused on eating according to hunger and fullness cues, letting go of dieting and breaking down ideas about “good” and “bad” foods. On the other hand, mindful eating focuses on bringing attention and awareness to the process of eating, often resulting in eating more slowly and a lower calorie intake overall. Mindful eating can be a great strategy for weight loss for some people, experts say.
Once you’ve evaluated the pros and cons of each approach to managing how much you eat, consider which method is most likely to deliver the results you’re looking for and be sustainable over a longer time. Of course, you could also use a combination of methods depending on the situation. For instance, some people use plate portions when they’re at home, and mindful eating when they go out to eat. But most people find it easiest to pick one food-tracking strategy — and stick to it. Ultimately, consistency beats perfection when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.
Make progress every day while you work on mini fitness and nutrition goals, like walking more steps or learning to track macros. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.
This content was originally published here.