What makes you MOST successful in calorie counting?

Maybe once a year I come back to MFP and try to count my calories, and I rarely make it past a week of doing so. What ultimate tips make you the most successful in continuing this WOL? What makes me usually stop counting is just trying to make dinners and not wanting to sit there and weigh everything out. It gets old.


  • gallicinvasion
    gallicinvasion Posts: 1,015 Member
    1. Meal prepping, using a food scale and the recipe builder, has been EXTREMELY helpful. I do most of my meal prep on Sundays, and after I cook, I use the recipe builder to create those recipes in MFP with all the correct ingredient entries and serving sizes. Then logging is a snap during the week!
    2. Getting really good at estimating has been helpful. I’m not intimidated by getting restaurant food because I’ve had a lot of practice guessing the calorie content of the foods I order (don’t forget to account for extra cooking oil, condiments, and other hidden sources of calories!) and I’ve still lost and maintained weight as expected.
    3. Building a logging habit has been helpful as well. I create recipes after I cook a dish, I build meals out of commonly-paired foods I eat, and I log a lot of things before I eat them (at the beginning of the day, or right before the meal).

  • wilson10102018
    wilson10102018 Posts: 1,306 Member
    Enjoy the process separate from the expected results.
  • HereToLose50
    HereToLose50 Posts: 154 Member
    Even if I slack on logging I make sure to read the nutrition information on packages. That way it's still in my mind somewhere and usually keeps me from overeating most of the time because I know "this entire package is 1000 calories" etc

    Eat a lot more single ingredients that you assemble into a recipe yourself instead of opening packages of already prepared ingredients. Have larger servings of veggies/meats you know have low calories and much smaller portions of everything else

    Nothing wrong with prepared foods but I do find calories add up a lot faster for it on average.
  • RelCanonical
    RelCanonical Posts: 3,882 Member
    It gets way easier once you get your favorite meals added as recipes and your frequent items all queued up when you need them instead of having to keep looking them up. Pre-planning helps me a ton as well - I figure out how much of each I need, and then I weigh that amount when I'm cooking, instead of weighing what I'm cooking and then trying to log it after. That way you know you can fit it into your calories. I find weighing to be far easier than measuring cups (also less dishes) and it keeps my recipes much more consistent than "eyeballing" it.
  • Panini911
    Panini911 Posts: 2,325 Member
    edited August 2019
    yeah it gets easier and faster with time once you've researched and log a good amount of regular foods/meals. so the key is sticking to it for a few weeks.

    you can also start with logging one meal for a week. then once that one is easy, add another the following week. VS logging EVERYTHING from day 1.

    i find weighing faster than using measuring cups/spoons to be honest (which i would do often when cooking anyway)
  • rosebarnalice
    rosebarnalice Posts: 3,488 Member
    I use the "frequent" and "my recipes" tabs ALL the time. I find that for the most part, I tend to cook and eat the same things a lot, so if it's in my history, it makes it easier to log.

    The other thing that makes logging easier for me is seeing the RESULTS. I know for fact that I suck at estimating portion size. When I weigh my food, I lose weight: end of story.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 32,968 Member
    Are you using all of the tricks for using your food scale most efficiently?

    If you're not sure, you you might want to take a look at this thread (which really is about efficient food-scale use, despite the click-bait/joke title):


    I agree with others' advice above about logging getting much easier and more efficient once you figure out how to use Meals and Recipes and your frequent/recent foods. It's a learning process. At this point (soon heading into year 4 of maintenance, and still logging much of the time), it's probably only 10 minutes of my day, tops, and that's a totally worthwhile time investment for how much better I feel, and how much my health markers (cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.) have improved.
  • sgt1372
    sgt1372 Posts: 3,992 Member
    Logging is not at big a deal if you've got a kitchen scale, a bar scanner and are not OCD about it.

    Close enough is good enuf. The important thing is to log most of the things that you est and, if in doubt, OVER estimate.
  • skelterhelter
    skelterhelter Posts: 803 Member
    What helps me is to pre-log my day. Of course this is only a good method if you know what you plan to eat. I'll usually track breakfast and lunch (eat pretty much the same thing on weekdays), and a couple of snacks. Dinner becomes a little easier because I know what's left in my budget and in a way feels more flexible. Dinner has always been a struggle for me because when I get home from work all care and planning goes out the window when I'm tired. At least now I know what I have left to play with and can take it from there.
  • missysippy930
    missysippy930 Posts: 2,577 Member
  • Tanya_Clair
    Tanya_Clair Posts: 31 Member
    I always pre-log my day so that I know exactly what food I can have that day, it helps if I get hungry during the day and I already know what snacks I can have without reaching for something high calorie! I have also found that, as boring as it might sound, eating the same things most days helps with consistency. For example, I eat very similar breakfasts and lunches every day and then mix up what I have for dinner, that way I only really have to think about planning one meal!
  • justanotherjenn
    justanotherjenn Posts: 64 Member
    Simplifying it by ignoring most of the macros (except protein). I have found that the more I obsess over carbs, fat, and sugar, the more stressed out I get. Most of those numbers stay on the low side by keeping within my calories anyway, but I used to really get in my head about it. Then I would get too stressed out and overwhelmed, over-restrict, then binge. Over and over again.
  • wilson10102018
    wilson10102018 Posts: 1,306 Member
    Like anything, success from really liking what you are doing. No on is going to be a good golfer, or even a good maintenance man unless they enjoy the process.

    Get involved. Embrace the process. Get good tools. Do as much of it as you can.

    I spend as much time as it takes to weigh and measure, understand ingredients, plan lower calorie ingredients that I actually want to eat.
  • geauxtigerlily
    geauxtigerlily Posts: 75 Member
    I do my very best (especially for a restart) when I plan out my whole week and pre-log most things. I don't keep that up long term, but for early on it takes out a lot of guesswork and gets me in the habit.

    And I try to keep things simple. I have the same shake for breakfast every workday. I meal prep my lunches and usually eat the same thing for a week (salads, soups, wraps, or "casserole" type dishes, I like to mix it up!) Sometimes I'll make 4 servings and plan to eat out with coworkers one day a week.

    I meal plan my dinners and only pick 3 recipes for the whole week so I don't feel like I'm cooking every single night. When I first started meal planning I was choosing a recipe every day and it was way too much food! So we'll eat leftovers (or a simple dinner) the other nights of the week. If I want to try out a new recipe, I usually only do that once a week, because I find my evenings and logging go smoother if I'm mostly sticking to things I already know. Usually I'll put that new recipe on Thursday night, so at some point between Sunday and Thursday night, I find some time to build that new recipe, and then just make tweaks to the entries when I actually get into the kitchen.

    I don't snack a lot, but I'll usually just work that into my counts as each day goes on, and make adjustments as necessary.

    And also leaning on convenient/easy options when things are hectic. Having some reasonably low-cal options in the freezer can be a lifesaver. Or I was not feeling well recently and didn't have energy for pulling together a healthy lunch, and a PB sandwich and some crackers were easy to weigh, track, and made me feel better. Not every meal has to be a superfoods salad with homemade herb vinaigrette :-P And even if you do succumb to the drive thru, just accept it and try to do better at the next meal instead of throwing in the towel.
  • jryd14
    jryd14 Posts: 58 Member
    I find it fun to free style the first couple meals, then figure out how to squeeze my macros and micros into the last 600ish calories
  • lg013
    lg013 Posts: 215 Member
    I second the meal prep...I don’t eat anything unless I’ve added it—it’s now become a habit
  • MohsenSALAH
    MohsenSALAH Posts: 182 Member
    Food scale
  • tk2222
    tk2222 Posts: 199 Member
    Honestly, not giving that much of an f...I travel a lot internationally and eat out a lot in random places that are not gonna be in the database, live alone and have an irregular job and no routine whatsoever, don't have a food scale, etc. I've accepted just searching the database, finding a bunch of stuff that kinda-maybe looks right, picking one (I probably do something like the second-highest calorie count of the first ten results...but its also not actually that organized. I just pick one) and not actually worrying about it ever again. Some days I'll be way over. Some days I'll be way under. I figure it balances out, and so far I've always lost fairly consistently when I stick to it.