Losing weight and keeping fit involves both exercising as well as cutting down on extra calorie intake. Counting calories is one of the best ways to lose weight, but it is easier said than done because common mistakes prevent one from reaching the target. At Maxine’s Challenge, we understand exactly how you feel. We guarantee that by using the right steps and keeping important tips in mind, you can surely achieve your goals.
How Many Calories Do You Need?
Calories refer to the total amount of energy you get from carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and alcohol. To begin counting calories first, start with your daily energy needs. This refers to the number of calories you should be consuming in a day.
A moderately active female between the ages of 26 to 50 needs to consume about 2,200 calories per day to maintain the same weight. Above 50 years of age, a woman’s calorie intake should be 1,800 calories daily to maintain weight. To lose weight, it should go down to 1,300 calories a day. Women in their early 20s need a higher calorie count of 2,200 per day to maintain their weight.
Using an online calculator, fill in your current weight, height, and activity level and find out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. Naturally, if you want to lose weight, you need to cut down your calorie intake by at least 500 calories a day. Consuming only 1,700 calories a day will enable you to lose 0.45 kilos in a week. If you want to decrease your weight by 0.9 kilos instead, cut about 1000 calories from your daily diet.
On average, you should be losing between 0.23 to 0.9 kilograms in a week if you want to lose weight. But keep in mind that losing more than 0.9 kilos in a week is unhealthy, and this might make it difficult to keep the weight off in the long term.
Most women generally end up with a figure of cutting 1,200 a day to reach their target weight. The minimum amount of calories that women should consume is 1,200 in a day. Going below this can lead to health problems. A professional trainer will help guide you better.
How to Keep a Track of Calories
Keeping track of calories at each meal can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. The best method to meet your calorie target and keep track of the number of calories you’re consuming on a daily basis is to add up the number of calories of the foods that you consume per serving. This will help you to plan your menu.
The nutrition label will give you the number of calories you are consuming in a single serving. It will list the serving size as well, i.e. 1 cup or 250 grams. It will also show you the total amount of fat, cholesterol, sodium, fibre, added sugar, vitamins, and minerals you will obtain from a single serving. Being aware of the type of food you are consuming can help you eat healthier options like fibres instead of fats.
Remember that when adding up calories, especially on nutrition labels, you are keeping a count of the number of calories you will obtain per serving. The list of calories can be found on nutrition labels for packaged foods and beverages. Try following recipe books or food magazines that list the number of calories per serving of food.
Even though your aim is to count calories precisely, it can sometimes be hard to do so, and relying on your memory is not always helpful. Even if you remember what you eat throughout the day, recalling how much you ate at each serving accurately is not possible.
Get a food journal that you can keep with you at all times. It can be a little notebook that you can carry with you always. Better still, use a calorie tracking app that you can download on any device like your smartphone. Before you eat, record the calories in the app, and this will help you keep a better track of calories.
Alternatives to Calorie Counting
Other than counting calories, here are some other steps that you can take to make your weight loss journey successful.
- Eat smaller portions- A bigger helping will naturally contain more number calories, and when you see more food, you tend to eat more. This is especially true when you go out to eat at restaurants. So whenever you can, instead of eating on a regular-sized plate, eat on a quarter plate. This automatically makes you eat a lesser amount. If counting calories is not your forte, try a method of restricting what you eat and how often you eat. Create an eating schedule and eat only healthy food at certain times of the day.
- Opt for food that takes longer to digest- Each food is different. Some foods digest and metabolise easily, while other foods that contain more fibre and protein, for instance, take a longer time to metabolise. Eating foods that take a longer time to digest, such as whole-wheat bread over refined flour bread, can help you consume fewer calories. This is beneficial for those who don’t get much exercise or activity. Consuming foods with high fibre is a healthier option, and they work by keeping you full for longer periods.
- Substitute - Different foods at the same rate will contain a different number of calories. For instance, carbohydrates and proteins contain four calories per gram, but fat contains nine calories per gram. Substitute lean meat for fatty meat and avoid saturated fats or high-fat snacks and foods like butter or hydrogenated fats. Substituting can help you cut plenty of calories per day but always reach out for healthier options because not all fat-free foods contain lesser calories. For example, if you are substituting a fatty food for more sugary food, the added sugar may contain even more calories than the fatty food.
- Consume the right type of calories- Always choose the right type of calories that are healthy, and cut down on empty calories that are unhealthy as these make you gain weight. Empty calories come from processed oils, solid fats, and added sugars. So staying away from biscuits, cookies, cakes, soft drinks, muffins, and other junk food is important. Focus your diet on vegetables and fruits that are rich in nutrients. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are healthy and help prevent diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other health problems.
Steps that Help Streamline Calorie Counting
To help make counting calories easier and steer you towards success, follow these helpful tips.
- Keeping track of portions- When it comes to portion sizes, don’t use guesswork. Most people underestimate food portions at each serving, and they tend to overeat. This is especially true when you are eating a new type of food. Each time you try something new, weigh it on your kitchen scale so that you know how much you are consuming. You don’t have to use your kitchen scale each time you eat a meal but find out how many calories you are consuming in, say, 100 grams or a cup of that particular food.
- Cook at home-There is nothing better than measuring portions and eating at home. This way, you know exactly how many calories you are consuming, and the measurement is more accurate. When dining out at a buffet, for example, you tend to overeat, and you may not always note down the correct number of calories for each serving. Cooking at home also allows you to substitute for healthier options, like replacing regular vegetable oil with olive oil, or replacing white sugar with brown sugar, or choosing low-fat cheese over whole cheese.
- Be as thorough as you can- When counting calories, it’s not only the big meals that count. Even those tiny snacks and nibbles throughout the day can add up to a lot. Maybe you chose to skip the ice cream for dessert but ate a piece of chocolate instead. Even those calories count, and it is important that you note everything down.
- Record other things as well- Keeping track of calories is important but if you exercise, keep a record of this as well. Losing weight involves both cutting down on calories and exercising in the right amount. Also, keep track of fibre and sodium intake. Tracking macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins and fat in grams is important if you want to lower your intake of carbohydrates or fats.
How many calories one needs differs from person to person and depends on an individual’s gender, age, current body weight, and exercise or activity level. It could also alter depending on whether you have any health conditions. The most important point to remember is to keep a track of everything that you consume as accurately as possible. It does not matter if you write it down on paper or use an app to keep a record. Always aim to strike a healthy and balanced lifestyle to keep your calories in check.