Restaurant guide

A guide to eating out and all the best restaurants.

Tips On Counting Calories

Posted on | June 9, 2010 | 2 Comments

Article by Deborah Prosser

You are probably counting calories because you want to lose weight. However trying to determine your calorie intake for each meal or snack can be time consuming and frustrating. Here are some practical tips to make this a little easier.

The Fat FormulaBefore we start counting the calories, lets look at the reason for limiting our food intake.

Calories Consumed = Calories Burnt + Fat

In other words if you eat more than you use, the result is that you will tend to gain weight. If you haven’t done so already, you need to establish your calorie goal per day according to your diet. Don’t be too ambitious to start with; you can always lower it gradually later.

Getting startedYou will need a calorie guide that shows the amount of calories in a given portion size. A measuring scale to weigh your food will also be useful. There are plenty of books on food charts available, or just type ‘Calorie chart’ into Google. You’ll find lots of websites with calorie counts for each food type.

Keeping CountTracking your calorie intake is hardest at the beginning because you will have to look up the values for every food item. However once you have done this, simply jot down the result in a notebook. This doesn’t have to be complicated, for example:

Dinner – chicken breast, broccoli, 1/2 baked potato: 325 calories

Don’t forget you should be tracking your snacks as well. If this is a packaged item you can simply take the calorie count from the label.

Portion sizesYou calorie count will give you an idea of how much you can eat. This means you will have to do some calculations to determine the calories in a given size like 1/2 cup of carrots, or 1/2 potato. However once you have done this and put the result in your notebook you won’t have to do it again.

Eat FrequentlyEating only one or two meals a day is counter-productive to your goal of losing weight. It is much better to have small meals plus snacks throughout the day. Try to avoid going long periods like five hours without eating anything.

Organize your resultsAfter you have been doing this for about two weeks you should have covered a good variety of snacks and meals. Organize you notes for easy reference. For example you could have a separate page for each meal type (breakfast, lunch dinner) and snacks. Group the related main dishes together, like chicken, beef or fish. This will make it much easier to look up your calorie counts for similar meals.

Eating OutThis is more difficult because you don’t know exactly what is in each dish. Restaurants often use sauces, which adds to the total calories. If you are eating out, jot down the meal details and look up the values at home. You should add in a few more calories to be on the safe side.

It’s Worth ItKnowing how much you are eating each day is a huge step in controlling your weight. If you can discipline yourself to follow the above tips for only two to three weeks you should find the process of counting calories much easier. And you should begin to see an improvement in your dieting results!