Do You Need to Track Calories to Lose Weight?

by | Jan 15, 2024 | 3 comments

We are excited to share this special guest post from Rebecca the Dietitian! We recognize how much the way you fuel your body influences your exercise results, and are excited to be able to bring you Rebecca’s sound eating advice to help you optimize your health, enjoy eating and get the most out of your workouts. We hope you will check out her post below and look forward to learning more from her. If you are in need of more guidance when it comes to nutrition, her comprehensive course, “Nourished & Fit” teaches you everything you need to know in order to lose weight, increase your energy, and balance your hormones (while enjoying delicious food of course)! Along with the course you will be invited to monthly group calls and a private Facebook community of amazing, supportive women. Please check out this link here to learn more (be sure to use the code ‘JSTV’ for a 30% discount).


Q: “How does someone figure out their ideal calorie target? Or do you advise to not count calories and just eat mindfully?”

Thank you for the great question about calorie counting. We’re here to offer you our best answer, so let’s dive in!

In a perfect world we would all be able to move in a way that feels good and eat nourishing foods mindfully resulting in bodies that naturally morph into our best healthy size and shape. In that world, no one would ever have to think about calories.

Unfortunately, the reality is that many of us like to incorporate a few indulgent foods and beverages that may cause cravings and weight gain. Some of us also have medical conditions or metabolisms or appetites that aren’t conducive to maintaining a healthy weight that feels good without some extra tools.

For most of us, calorie counting isn’t an option that would be sustainable long term. It can, however, be a great solution to learn a lot about our bodies and how to eat in a way that we function our best.

You can use the Harris Benedict equation to get an idea of how many calories your body utilizes each day based on your activity level. That will give you a place to start, but every body is different. You can use that number as a goal for a few weeks to see if you lose weight, stay the same, or gain weight on that number of calories and then adjust from there to meet your goals.

My favorite free food tracking app is (it also has a free app). It is user friendly and has a good database of foods along with nutrient information. You can use it to see graphs including your calories each day for a week in a bar graph with a line representing your goal and your weekly average (the weekly average matters a lot more than stressing about perfection each day). Another useful graph that’s included in the free version is your macronutrient intake (fat/protein/carb) in a pie chart with options to see the results daily and weekly.

Disclaimer:  the calorie and nutrient information on this (or any) app may not be perfectly accurate. It’s just a rough estimate.


You can use this system to look for trends. Maybe you will notice that when you eat a certain breakfast you tend to be more satisfied and eat less calories through the rest of the day. Maybe you’ll notice that too many calories come from snacks or late-night eating. I often notice that if I’m eating a high percentage of calories from fat, I tend to eat too many calories in general and gain weight.

If you’re on a role with healthy eating that feels good and satisfying and you’re reaching your health and fitness goals, this record can act like a personalized food plan that works for you if you ever need it again in the future.


If things are going well and you feel like you’ve found a routine that works for you, you can wean off of tracking and carry on mindfully sustaining your enjoyable routine. If you ever feel like you’re getting off track again, you can always commit to tracking for another time period.

Potential downsides of counting calories are that you might start to feel overwhelmed or obsessive about tracking and hitting targets. If tracking makes you feel stressed or bad about yourself, then please don’t do it. Another potential downside is that tracking can stop you from learning to listen to your body cues about hunger, satiety, wants, and needs. It’s natural to have days where you naturally need more food and days where you need less. If you obsess over hitting your calorie target you may sometimes eat extra because you have the calories left even when you’re not really hungry or conversely ignore your hunger because you’re over your calorie goal. That’s why weekly averages are more relevant and important to note than daily numbers.

We want all women to love our beautiful bodies including all shapes and sizes. We want every woman to care for herself because she’s amazing and she knows that she deserves the very best. If calorie tracking is a tool that helps you accomplish that goal, then by all means, track away, you gorgeous, amazing being. 

Whatever helps you live your best life is what we want for you!

Do you have a nutrition or weight loss related question for Rebecca? Please let us know what you’d like to learn more about in the comments below!

Join Us!

Become a part of our community by signing up for our free emails and we’ll send you our welcome packet full of tips to get you started today and our exclusive subscriber savings code to SAVE 25% OFF our 6 Week System!


  1. Danielle

    I’m glad this showed up when it did; I exercise most days (20-50 minutes), but my home-cooking took a hit during a life roll and hasn’t quite recovered. I also paused calorie counting during that busy time and haven’t restarted, though I’m about to jump back in.
    My doc says my bloodwork says I need to up my exercise and watch my diet (rolls eyes)…I know I can’t outrun a bad diet but I’m petite, have a thyroid condition, and I’m HONGRY! So most days I go over my tracker’s recommended calories for weight loss and can never seem to lose 5 or 10 pounds that I’d like. It gets frustrating!! I’m just glad someone’s talking about it a little.

  2. Michelle

    I’m trying to be more mindful of protein. I used My Fitness Pal for a while and found that I was always low on protein (even though I like and eat meat). I guess I don’t know what foods (other than meat) are high in protein. I bought protein powder but I believe the whey may be increasing breakouts. So I am taking a break from the protein powder. What are some high protein foods that are healthy? Also I have a question about fats. I may end up on Accutane (not sure yet) and it has to be taken with a fatty meal. What are some fatty foods? I don’t understand about saturated vs. unsaturated fats. Is it saturated that we should avoid and then unsaturated that are good? (Also, for Jessica, I just love your workouts! I own many DVDs and have done those for many years as well as your Youtube! The best workouts!!).


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *