“What’s the most important number to hit?”
I get that question a lot.
The truth is all of them but if you were holding a gun to my head here’s the order I would rank them if you only hit one or a couple.
#1 - Calories
#2 - Protein
#3 - Fiber
#4 - Water
#5 - Carbs/Fats
Calories are going to be the biggest effect on your body weight. Typically a person is at healthy body weight they have a better chance of being healthy overall. By keeping those in check you likely aren’t eating a lot of unhealthy foods too! It's really hard to stay at your calorie levels if you are just eating burgers and fries all the time.
Protein is going to not only keep you full it is going to ensure you maintain your lean mass as you lose weight. Protein will also help you feel satiated so that you don't have struggles with cravings.
Fiber is going to keep you full like protein and it is also likely going to come from nutrient dense foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and legumes. By hitting this number you will most likely ensure your micronutrient needs are met.
Water is just critical for your health... drink water!
Carbs and fats I lumped together because if you hit your protein and one of these the other one will automatically fall into place. These are less critical to your overall health, performance and body composition if the things listed above are met. As long as you getting minimum needed amounts you should be good. One caveat would be if your main goal is sports performance I might be inclined to move carbs up to #3 on this list.
These recommendations are for the population in general. There are certainly situations with individuals where certain areas will be more or less important. If you are new to tracking I would start with the order listed above when it comes to which numbers to focus on hitting early on.