I tracked calories I consumed and expended using some basic technology.
Tracking caloric intake vs expenditure (energy in vs energy out) was the single most important component of my program to get ripped, and I continue to do this. Fortunately, I was able to make a simple task of it by availing myself of some readily available technology.
First, I purchased a food scale.
Second, to track caloric intake, I weighed what I ate and logged it using MyFitnessPal, which is a free Android/ iOS app backed by a massive food database. The application tracks caloric intake and allows the user to set a caloric goal. Among other features it also tracks macronutrient intake, making it easy to ensure that I was consuming enough protein.
Third, I wore (and continue to wear) a FitBit One activity tracker. I got mine at Best Buy for $85 or $90 I think. It’s best for tracking steps and step-based activities (not biking, lifting etc). It’s very accurate for what it tracks. It also tracks calories based on your sex, height and weight. Unfortunately, it does not accept an input for body fat percentage (which makes for the most accurate basal metabolic rate calculation), but I still found the calorie count to be highly accurate when I tested it against the readouts on three different treadmill models. I think the FitBit is an AWESOME tool for the following reasons:
- It tracks movement throughout the entire day, and accounts for the energy expenditure associated with both structured step-based cardio sessions and unstructured cardio i.e. walking/ going about your day. This was immensely useful for helping me understand my daily energy output so that I could adjust my intake with greater precision.
- It allows the user to set a daily step goal; I found it highly motivational for that reason. I always get my 10,000 steps.
- It integrates with smartphones via BlueTooth, enabling it to sync with MyFitnessPal so that the calorie count in MyFitnessPal will always reflect energy expenditure in near-real-time.
Together, these technologies and techniques enabled me to accurately maintain a 300-600 daily caloric deficit without stress. Although weighing and logging everything consumed might seem like an arduous task, it’s really not. After only a month or so of weighing my food, I got pretty good at estimating weights and measures in both imperial and metric.