“But I eat only 1800 calories a day.” I hear from so many clients, who are frustrated that they are not losing weight. They mistakenly blame their metabolism, their age, or some kind of obscure medical problem, but the issue is really much simpler: they’re eating more than they think.
After they tell me the number of calories that they think they eat per day, my next question is always “how do you know? How did you calculate your daily calories?”
Almost always, they tell me some popular nutrition tracking app — whether it’s MyFitnessPal, Noom, MyPlate, LoseIt or others.
And that’s where the problem lies — they’re all bad. Really, really bad.
One study compared the accuracy of 5 different popular nutrition tracking apps with just a good ol’ food diary, and found that the nutrition tracking apps underestimated calories by as much as 27%.
Another study found similar results.
A lot of us lie to ourselves (and nutrition apps lie to us) about how much we’re actually eating. We think we’re eating 1800 calories per day, and we wonder why we aren’t losing body fat. But the reality might be closer to 2700 (yep, with my clients I’ve seen estimates as far off as 40–50%).
Want to have a really good ballpark of how many calories per day you’re currently eating?
Multiply your current body weight (in pounds) by 15. If you exercise, add the number of calories in your exercise.
So if you weigh 150 lbs., you’re currently eating around 2250 calories per day if you’re sedentary. More than that if you exercise and/or have an active job.
This gives you a much better estimate of how many calories you’re really eating. Despite the low tech nature of this method, it’s actually a much higher accuracy than nutrition tracking apps.
So you may ask — are there any good nutrition tracking apps? Not that I’m aware of.
Unfortunately, as it stands right now, the best way to calculate calories, carbs, protein and fats is the old school way: