The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter
Everything you need to live well

A Guide To Calorie Counting

One of the most popular questions that I get asked is, “How do I track calories?” People have realised that one reason why their weight-loss plan fails is because they aren’t keeping track of their food intake. Knowing how much you eat is important because it’s very easy to hide things from yourself until you really pay attention.

Before you begin a diet, it helps to determine how much you do eat. You simply have to track every single thing that goes in your mouth. It might seem exhausting at first, but you’ll be shocked to see how many calories you consumed.

Keep track of what you eat following the steps below:

Food journal entry

Get a small notebook and write down everything you eat every day (including weekends) for two weeks —even that handful of plantain chips your colleague gave you, the dressing you put on your salad, the pat of butter you spread on your bread. Don’t forget to include beverages, too. People tend to eat differently on weekends than on weekdays because they are either at events or letting loose with family and friends, so including Saturday or Sunday in your tracking is important.

Be sure to accurately estimate the amount of each food that you eat. Studies show that most people grossly underestimate their portion sizes and can’t figure out why they don’t lose weight on their diets. Your food journal can also help you make other adjustments like adding more fruits and vegetables or maybe you’re not getting enough dairy or protein.

Forming a new habit is repetition, so by keeping a diary, you are reinforcing your decision to live a healthful lifestyle.

Weigh or measure your servings

Another way to figure out how much you’re eating is to weigh and measure your food. The more you measure, the better you will be at visually assessing portion size. This does not necessarily mean that you always have to measure everything that goes into your mouth. You can measure foods and drinks a few times to learn what the volume or weight looks like on the dishes you typically use.

For instance, portion out on your plate the typical amount of food that you eat and then use a measuring cup, spoon, or scale to determine your serving size. Most people find it easiest to write down what they ate immediately following each meal; otherwise, they tend to forget about the incidentals, such as a second helping or the glass of wine or juice, or the butter on the bread, and the amounts.

Record calorie counts for everything you ate during the day

At the end of each day, go back and record the calories for each food you ate by using food labels, calorie counting apps like My Fitness Parlour Fat Secret, or if you have an iPhone just ask Siri or simply search through Google. Then simply tally the number of calories for each food based on the amount you ate, and total up for the day. After the seven day recording period, add the total calorie counts together and divide by seven. This gives you the approximate number of calories (give or take a few) that you eat on average each day.

In this article:
Counting calories

Related