Your guide to counting calories the right way

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This is part of the story 12 days notesHelping you take advantage of your technology, home and health during the holiday season.



A passion for calorie counting goes hand in hand New Year’s Resolutions. If you want to “finally get fit” in 2023, counting calories (and out) is a good place to start. But there is some controversy about whether or not calorie counting is a good way to stay healthy or lose weight. Some experts argue that calories can be counted leading to dietary restrictions beyond what is healthy and encourage Irregular eating. Other experts say that counting calories is an efficient and effective method Approach to weight loss.

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If one thing is certain, there is no “best” approach to health or weight loss. As some thrive HIIT training When discovering fitness through others Running — and many others Don’t like structured exercise — Some people count calories and succeed, others don’t.

This guide to counting calories covers how it helps with health goals, when it works and when it doesn’t, and exactly how to get started. Also, here is our list Best fitness trackersThe Best healthy food delivery services And this Best home exercise equipment.

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Counting calories for weight loss and weight gain

Weight management is a game of calories in and calories out. A calorie is a unit of measurement that describes how much energy a given food or drink contains. The same unit of measurement is used to describe how much energy you expend (calories burned) in a day.

To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume, and to gain weight, you must consume more calories than you burn. If you’re interested in changing your weight one way or another, you need to create a calorie deficit or calorie surplus — and to make sure you’re in your desired surplus or deficit, you need to track the calories you eat and burn. You can create the calorie balance you want by counting the calories you eat and burn.

Say you want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks (one pound per week). One pound is body fat Equivalent to approximately 3,500 caloriesAlthough there is potential for inter-individual variation in body fat density How your body composition changes over time.

Based on the 3,500 calorie estimate, you would need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories each week to lose that one pound. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Reduce your calorie consumption by 500 calories per day
  • Increase or intensify exercise to burn 500 calories a day
  • A combination of both, e.g. Reduce your calorie consumption by 250 calories per day and burn an additional 250 calories per day through exercise

Bottom line of it all Weight loss programs A change in your caloric balance through eating habits and exercise, although that foundation may be obscured by other tactics. Intermittent fasting Or Food group exceptions.

Calorie counting can help you make healthy food choices.


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When calorie counting works and when it doesn’t

Calorie counting is not for everyone. No food-tracking or logging of any kind for that matter. Some people prefer to eat food and enjoy it without worrying about the caloric value. Some people don’t have the time or energy to count calories (that’s most of us, probably), while others have health goals that don’t involve counting calories.

When counting calories:

  • Your focus must be on losing or gaining weight
  • You want a simple, no-frills way to keep tabs on your diet
  • You need to monitor for medical reasons

Calorie counting is not the best method:

  • Want to change your body composition (Monitoring macros A better approach to physical rehabilitation)
  • You may need to track or monitor micronutrients, such as specific vitamins or minerals
  • You have a history of disordered eating and feel the urge to drastically cut calories to an unhealthy level
  • You don’t know how many calories you should be eating

How to start counting calories the right way

The first thing you need to do is determine how many calories you need each day. Counting them won’t do you any good if you eat too little or too much. The absolute best way to determine your daily calorie intake is to work with a registered dietitian, physician, or certified nutritionist who can take into account your weight, height, health history, and goals for an ideal daily calorie number.

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If seeing a professional isn’t on the table, you can use an online calorie calculator. This is from the Mayo Clinic, to find out. Most calorie calculators use the same formula The Mifflin-St.George equation, which takes into account gender, height, weight, age and activity level. As the disclaimer in the Mayo Clinic’s calorie calculator notes, other factors also affect your daily calorie needs. Pregnancy, illnesses and occupation also contribute.

Once you have your number, you can start counting your calories. To create a deficit, eat fewer calories than your maintenance number, and to create a surplus, eat more. You can track a A pen and paper journal or use Calorie counting app.

See how to eat
The See How You Eat food journal app focuses on taking photos rather than recording words. This is a great approach to food journaling if you forget to write down the details.


See How You Eat/App Store

Registration of packaged foods

Counting calories in packaged foods is easy: look at the nutrition label and write down the calorie count. Don’t forget about serving sizes — if you eat two servings, double the calorie count on the label.

Registration of new foods

Tracking fresh foods is a bit more difficult than tracking packaged foods because there is usually no label. But calorie data is easy to find online. You can search for almost any food FDA’s FoodCentral database Find complete nutrition information. Most food-tracking apps have massive databases of foods, so don’t let the lack of a nutrition label stop you from eating new foods.

Registration of restaurant meals

Logging calories in a restaurant meal can be tricky unless the restaurant is a chain. In 2018, the FDA made it mandatory All restaurants with more than 20 seats Calorie information must be published for all menu items, so if you’re eating at a regional or national chain restaurant, it’s enough. Local restaurants aren’t required to post calorie counts, but if you ask your server, there’s a good chance they’ll find out.

Don’t forget to order your coffee!


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registered drinks

Don’t forget to count the calories in the drinks you drink throughout the day. As long as you drink nothing but plain water and zero-calorie beverages (including unsweetened or unsweetened black coffee and tea), your beverages contribute to your daily calorie intake. Be sure to count the calories in the creamer in your coffee. Sports drinksAlcohol, soda and juices.

Calories can’t tell you the quality of your food

While calories are useful for intentional weight loss or weight gain, they tell you nothing in the way of micronutrients. The quality of your food is just as important as the number of calories you consume each day: Where your calories come from makes a big difference in your overall health. A calorie is more than a simple unit of measurement when it comes to assessing how foods affect your overall health.

For example, 100 calories of almonds does more harm to your body than 100 calories worth of a Twinkie. Almonds contain fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, whereas Twinkies contain mostly sugar and saturated fat. A handful of almonds will give you sustained energy; A Twinkie can make your blood sugar spike and crash — these are only short-term effects.

Long term, almonds offer Health benefits Like blood sugar control and lower cholesterol levels. Several ingredients in Twinkies — sugar, High fructose corn syrup And Hydrogenated oils— to name a few — is associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases.

For the same number of calories in a candy bar, you can eat more fruits and vegetables.


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However, the great thing is that filling your diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats should naturally limit your calorie intake. Because nutritious foods contain fewer calories than sugary, fatty, or processed foods, you’ll consume fewer calories.

If you’re interested in the pursuit of health, want to prevent chronic disease, and want to stay fit and healthy as you age, your best bet is to pay attention to both your calorie intake and the quality of the foods you eat.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and not for health or medical advice. If you have any questions about a medical condition or health objectives, always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider.


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