Calorie counting is one of the simplest ways to lose weight and keep it off, yet many people hate the idea of keeping track of every single thing that goes into their mouths. While calorie counting is best suited for the self-disciplined and those who are good at planning, it can be the right weight loss regimen for anyone as long as they learn ways to make it easier. Follow these 7 tips for calorie counting to start losing weight now simply by modifying your current eating routine.
1. Sign up for an Online Food Journal
Livestrong, Myfitnesspal, and Caloriecount are just some of the many FREE calorie counting websites devoted to helping you keep track of your calorie intake. The biggest thing that these websites (and their corresponding apps) provide is estimating how many calories you should be consuming daily in order to achieve your goal weight based on your current weight, age, sex, height, and exercise level. They also provide thousands of food entries that give you the necessary nutritional information needed to calculate how many calories you have eaten and how many you have left.
2. Plan Ahead
Plan your meals ahead of time to make sure they fit within your daily calorie limit, especially if you’re going out to eat instead of cooking at home. If you know where you and your friends are going for dinner later, search the restaurant’s website for nutritional facts beforehand so you know what your options are. Don’t be fooled, just because something’s under the salad section on a menu, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a lower calorie choice! The "Eat This, Not That!" book series by David Zinczenko is also great for learning what your best food choices are at various food chains and grocery stores.
3. Know Your Portion Sizes
Determining portion sizes is critical to weight loss success when it comes to calorie counting. For example, if you order a salad, ask to have the dressing on the side. This way, you can see how much of the dressing is actually going onto your meal and thus into your stomach. It also helps to associate portion sizes with everyday objects you can visualize in order to measure without having the proper tools, such as 1 cup = a baseball, 2 tbsp = a golf ball, 3 oz of meat = a deck of cards, and so on.
4. Exercising = More Food for You
Calorie counting carries a great incentive to work out… you get to eat more! Your online food journal can estimate the number of calories you burn during various activities and will subtract it from your daily calorie intake. Thus, if you know you are going to the gym after work for an hour, you can estimate how much you will burn and perhaps splurge a little on your lunch that day.
5. Swap Foods in Order to Eat More
Calorie counting is a great way to diet because it enables you to see what you can substitute in order to eat more of the things you love. For example, if you go without 1 serving of regular mayonnaise on your sandwich (roughly 100 calories) you can have a pudding cup instead! I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a delicious snack instead of a hint of mayonnaise on my sandwich. If you know dinner is going to be a little heavier one night, swap your normal latte that morning for a coffee with skim milk in order to save more calories for later.
6. Memorize Common Food Calories
For those times when nutritional facts aren’t accessible it’s good to know the average calories for common foods off the top of your head. Eventually you will be able to estimate the amount of calories a meal has just by looking at it. This is good information to retain because it will eventually act as your conscience when deciding what to eat and picking something healthy will become a habit without you even realizing!
7. Drink Water, Drink Water, Drink Water!
I can’t stress enough how important it is to drink water in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Most calorie counting websites even offer ways for you to track how much water you are taking in a day. 8 glasses (64 ounces) of water should be your daily goal. Save your calories for your meals instead of drinking them in sugary juices or coffee drinks by opting for water instead.
The great thing about calorie counting is that when it’s done properly, it is very hard to put the weight back on once you lose it. It’s all about potion control and not depriving yourself of the foods you love. It’s been almost 4 years since I lost 35 pounds by counting calories and I am still happily at my goal weight. Have you ever tried counting calories as your main way of dieting and if so, did it work for you?
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