Why calorie counting is good
- Calorie Counting teaches you the energy density of food, and this is a pretty powerful lesson! People are often shocked at how energy dense some foods are (for example three tablespoons of oil is around 300 calories which is the equivalent of one main meal for a woman on a weight loss program).
- Calorie amounts are readily available for pretty much every food out there, a universal way to measure food density.
- Once you learn the calorie amounts of the foods you eat, you have it for life. Every time you boil that egg, you know you’re eating around 90 calories. For some reason you seem to remember the numbers (except chocolate, best to forget those numbers – depressing).
- Fundamentally we know the law of Physics applies to the human body; if you consume more calories than you burn off, you WILL gain weight. End of story.
- Tracking what you eat has been proven to facilitate more weight loss, compared to groups who do not track. And with the explosion of tracking apps and programs, it’s never been easier to record what you eat.
- There is a rough formula you can follow for weight loss: A deficit of 3500 calories equates to approximately 500g of weight loss. Read on and I’ll explain how you can use this formula.
Calorie counting is Not the Holy Grail:
Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of flaws to calorie counting. It can be time consuming, it doesn’t guarantee consistent results (we aren’t computers where you plug in numbers and get precise outcomes), and it doesn’t take into account the type of food you eat (no you can’t just go and supplement your 1200 calories per day with 1200 calories of cake and expect to lose weight).
There are other important factors to consider such as the quality of the food you are eating, the balance of macronutrients (protein, carbs etc). However, I am a strong believer that the weight loss program you follow should be underpinned by portion control through calorie counting.
Whats the best way to count calories?
Use the below calculator to work out how many calories you should eat per day to maintain weight
If you want to lose weight, deduct around 500 calories per day off the above number, and that is your daily weight loss caloric allowance. If your body was a computer (that isn’t tempted by Friday afternoon drinks, or hormonal metabolism shifts), this would mean that over a one week period, you would be in deficit of 3500 calories (-500 calories x 7 days). A deficit of 3500 calories equates to 500g weight loss. A deficit of 7000 calories equates to a 1kg loss. I stress that this is not an exact science, we are not computers.
If you exercise, I suggest you wear a heart rate monitor that can track the amount of calories you burn per workout (it’s not completely accurate, but gives a decent indication). If you burn 600 calories in a workout, apply that to your deficit and you will get to your 3500 faster.
Try this example:
Calculator above says: My daily calorie needs for weight maintenance is: 1850 cals per day.
I want to lose weight so I deduct 500 cals off this = 1350 cals per day.
If I eat 1350 cals per day for a week, I should expect to lose 500g. If I decide to ramp up my exercise on top of this, and work out five days per week, burning 500 cal per session (according to my heart rate monitor), at the end of the week I have burnt an extra 3500 cals. This would mean I should have lost 1kg that week (3500 from the exercise and 3500 from eating less).
So why don’t you give it a go, track your food intake for a week (My Fitness Pal is a great tracking app), track calories burnt (using a heart rate monitor). Deduct one from the other and aim for a daily caloric deficit of 500cal per day.
Here’s another great article on calorie counting.