Calorie Counting Like a Pro
For the most part, practically everything you consider food and put in your mouth has calories. Calories in food provides energy to your body, brain, muscles and organs. By counting the approximate amount of calories you are consuming throughout your day you are able to determine how much energy your body is using and storing. Being able to count calories like a pro can help you determine how to lose, gain or maintain your current weight, notice if there are any health problems possibly occurring due to unpredictable weight gain or loss, manage current health conditions and so much more. So just about anyone can benefit from learning how to count his or her daily caloric intake.
Here are three simple steps to calorie counting.
1. Set your time frame.
Some prefer to track what they eat day in and day out whereas others would like to just get a general feel for what they are normally doing. There is no right or wrong here but there are some general guidelines.
- For weight gain or weight loss: If you are simply looking to get a gauge on how to lose or gain weight it is recommended to track at least 3 typical dietary days(2 week days and a weekend day) up to about two weeks. This will give you an idea of where you are starting. Once you have tracked for your allotted time frame you can continue to track to ensure your deficit or surplus is right on the money. Some may want to continue tracking for accountability which is totally fine too!
- For health problems: Your health problem can dictate your timeframe. For example, newly diagnosed diabetics may take any where between a week to months to track and determine when and where to insert certain food choices to get optimal blood sugar readings. Whereas, those with IBS or gastrointestinal diseases may need to partake in an elimination diet thus needing to track for upwards of 12 weeks. For the right tracking time frame, you should talk with your doctor and nutritionist to get further details about what would work best for you.
2. Choose your tracker.
In the day of technology you have more options than ever to tracking your diet and here are a few options that typically work well for most.
- Tracking phone Apps: Tracking apps like MyFitnessPal and LoseIt! Are very convenient because well, I don’t know many people who can be found without a cell phone attached to their person nowadays. You login to your phone app, type in or look up your food choices and log it. For the most part it is just that simple. The downfall to using an app is its accuracy. For example, you may eat an apple for a snack. In some apps the apple can log as 60 calories up to 160 calories. This can make a big impact if you are trying to lose weight especially.
- Journal: The old fashion way can sometimes work best for some. You can carry a small paper journal in your purse or pocket. Simply jot down everything you eat and drink and put it back in its place until your next meal. The most commonly noted downside to this method is the “research” portion. When jotting down your foods you want to also write down your calories which means you need to read the food labels or if you are at a restaurant, ask for the nutritional information to be as accurate as possible.
3. Begin your journey and keep fine-tuning.
- For weight gain or loss: Once you have determined your average daily caloric intake you can begin working on it is important to understand how to achieve your goal. A healthy weight loss for most is ½-2lbs per week meaning each day there should be a caloric deficit of 250-1000 calories. Conversely, if your goal is to gain weight then you should try to eat an additional 250-1000 calories per day. Keep in mind the body sometimes needs time to adjust, so you can gradually decrease or increase your calories per week until you are right where you want to be. Continue to fine tune and focus on consistency
- For health problems: Always talk to your doctor about the appropriate steps to take if you plan to make serious dietary changes to support any existing health condition state.
– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC
Health Advisor | Email Casey