Learning how to count calories is the key to successful weight loss. Calorie counting is easy and effective. If you want to lose weight and keep the pounds off for good, it’s important to take some time and learn this critical skill.
The first step to counting calories is to understand what a calorie is and how it applies to your weight. Your body uses caloric energy to perform everything from basic biological functions to typing on your keyboard or jogging around the block. A calorie is a unit of energy.
We all have a certain caloric requirement needed to maintain our current weight. If you eat fewer calories than you need (or burn excess calories) you will create a caloric deficit and lose weight. A good rule of thumb is that a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories leads to a weight loss of approximately one pound.
There are several ways to determine the number of calories you require each day in order to maintain your weight.
One method is called the Harris-Benedict formula. It is a mathematical formula that determines your caloric needs based on your sex, weight, and activity level. The result of the formula is known as your basal metabolic rate. You can also use calculators provided by the USDA’s SuperTracker program or use online tools such as those at CalorieCount.com to determine your daily calorie needs.
Once you know the number of calories you need in order to maintain your weight, you can create your own caloric goals for losing weight. It’s up to you how many calories you cut from your daily diet. Remember, it takes a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories for you to lose a pound. Most people find it easiest and most effective to cut between 250 and 500 calories per day.
3. Track Your Calorie Intake
The next step in counting calories is to learn how to read a food label to identify the caloric content of the foods and drinks that you consume.
The products you purchase at the store have a label on them called the Nutrition Facts label. The label provides information about the food’s nutritional content, including total number of calories per serving. The calories are located just below the thick black line and the words “Amount per serving.” It is important that you also note the serving size listing on the label, which is located at the top, just below the “Nutrition Facts” heading.
You can also use online tools to find nutrition and calorie information. You can use Calorie Count or other online services to search for the nutritional information for many different types of foods, including restaurant foods.
Portion control is the most important step of calorie counting. If you eat smaller portions of high-calorie foods and you eat correct portions at meal time, weight loss will be easier.
The simplest way to begin to control portions is to buy and use a simple measuring cup. Many foods such as cereal and pasta are measured by the 1/2 cup or cup. Fluid ounces, such as a beverages, can also be measured with a measuring cup. Some foods such as peanut butter, pancake syrup, or jam are measured by the tablespoon. A few foods, such as stick margarine, can be difficult to measure with a spoon; a serving of margarine, for example, can be measured by using the “ruler” provided on the product’s packaging.
Many foods are available in “single serving” size packages. This means that you can eat all of the food in the package for the listed number of calories. It’s important that you don’t assume a package is a single serving. Look on the package’s nutrition label and find the “servings per package” or “servings per container” section. If it says “1” then you do not need to measure or count the food to know your caloric intake.
You can easily track your total daily caloric intake online at sites like Calorie Count. Many websites also provide smartphone apps so you can track your food intake and calorie count when you’re on the go.
If you prefer not to use a high-tech method,you can use the simple paper and pen method. Simply write your calorie goal at the top and subtract the calorie content of each food or beverage you consume as the day progresses. You may also want to consider starting a food diary to assess problem areas or emotional eating issues.
Review your daily diet as often as possible to identify ways to cut calories. For example, if you are consistently going over your calorie goal by 100 calories, cutting out just one can of soda will eliminate that overage.
It’s important that you identify foods to eliminate or reduce with to make your diet healthier. A diet that includes lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and some fat will provide you with the proper nutrients to keep your body strong and healthy.
✓ Most foods contain a combination of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Here’s where the calories you eat come from:
- Carbohydrate – 4 calories per gram
- Protein – 4 calories per gram
- Fat – 9 calories per gram
- Alcohol – 7 calories per gram
✓ You can start making choices today to lower your calorie intake. Filling your plate with favorite vegetables and snacking on fruits is a quick way to eat fewer calories. Eating smaller portions of higher-calorie foods or eating them less often will cut calories, too.
✓ Finding the carb counts: Reading Nutrition Facts Labels
Article Reference: https://www.verywell.com