For decades doctors, nutritionists, your friends and the mailman have been telling you to count your calories if you're looking to lose weight. That didn't seem to help because no one could really be precise enough or dedicated enough for long enough to do it with any real results. So then a swing in the pendulum hit a few years back, that I myself was guilty of, telling clients to NEVER count calories or you'll go crazy.
A lot of research out years ago about counting calories was shown that it was very ineffective — but as more and more research is being done by some really smart people, we are now learning that counting calories/macro-nutrients (carbs/fats/proteins) may be the way to go after all.
When someone wants to lose weight they must put them selves in a caloric deficiency. There are a few ways to do that:
#1: Eat Less Food/Calories
#2: Exercise (burn calories)
#3: Do Both (Exercise More / Eat Less)
Number 3 would be the most efficient and easiest plan to stick to for the long haul (the rest of your life). Plus, it will not only allow you to lose weight but it will also add muscle and bone density to your body which will make your appearance much more desirable.
Another big fad was eating 6+ meals a day to "keep your furnace" burning. This definitely works for some (body builders/figure competitors/athletes/etc), but for the average Joe/Jane, eating that many meals a day would make it a lot tougher to track your caloric intake for the day. Guess what happened to millions when they ate 6-8 meals a day? Yep, you guessed it, they ate too many calories and they didn't lose weight.
If your goal is to lose 10, 20, 30 or even 100 pounds, you must put yourself in a situation that you have FULL control of. This means that if you eat say 3 meals a day instead of 8 meals a day, chances are that you will have a much easier time tracking the foods and calories you eat from day to day until it becomes second nature and you attain your goal weight.
Keeping a food log really helps and increases the chances of your success - The food journal must have times you eat, amounts and what you eat. The key here is to limit the junk foods and increase the protein. As simply as I can put it; if you want to lose fat and get stronger, eat more protein!
The issue most have with getting enough protein is that you usually have to prepare your foods that hold the best amounts of protein in them (eggs, chicken, beef, lamb, duck, fish, etc). A good whey protein can also do the trick if you are in a rush or don't have access to prepare your meals. But to be honest, you have to create a new habit and start prepping your healthy meals (Hard Boiled Eggs, Grilled Chicken, Tuna Fish, Meat Balls, Salmon, Etc).
What To Do:
Eat Less Calories / Track Your Macronutrients & Calories as best you can / Exercise Daily / Don't drink your calories / Learn to Cook / Set weekly & monthly goals
A GENERAL recommendation for your Protein requirements will look something like this: (Lets say you're a 200 Pound Person looking to lose fat and add lean body mass)
On the low end: 1 Gram of Protein per kilogram of body weight (200/2.2 = 90 kilograms) = Eat approximately 90 Grams of Protein a day
On the high end: 2 Grams of Protein per kilogram of body weight (200/2.2 = 90 kilograms) = Eat approximately 180 Grams of Protein a day
After you track a couple weeks of food intake, see where your protein falls - Most of you probably aren't consuming enough....
* I highly recommend a Book that will help you by Alan Aragon and Lou Schuler called "The Lean Muscle Diet"