Counting Calories: How to Make it Work for You

counting-calories

If you’ve stalled in your weight loss journey, or if you never began the journey at all, you might need to evaluate the number of calories you are – or aren’t – taking in each day.

Calories = energy. You need them to keep going. I mentioned in last week’s fitness post that sometimes people take in too FEW calories, which can result in plateauing in terms of weight loss. Your body requires a certain number of calories each day to function. Too few and the body thinks you won’t feed it enough to function and it will hold on to everything, so you will stop losing weight. Too many and you’re going to gain some weight.

Your body requires a certain number of calories each day to function. Too few and the body thinks you won’t feed it enough to function and it will hold on to everything, so you will stop losing weight.

How can you find the number of calories you need each day to maintain or lose weight?

First, determine how many calories you need to take in each day. In last week’s post I showed you the My Fitness Pal app, which is an easy way to track calories; of course, there are others, and if you have one that you like please share it in the comment section. What I like about My Fitness Pal is that it deducts what you eat each day from the total you need to consume. My friend, who wasn’t taking in enough, realized it when the app told her she needed to eat more for the day. It’s very normal for people to over or under judge the amount of calories they are eating. You might snack on a few handfuls of peanuts or pretzels and not think about tracking it because you only have a few and they are relatively healthy snacks – but if you DO track, you might realize you are consuming more calories than you should each day, even though they are healthy calories.

Next, once you’ve set a specific number, don’t forget to include any workouts that you do. For instance, thirty minutes of easy jogging burns about 300 calories. Don’t know what your fitness activities burn? Check out a fitness calculator, like the one on Ace Fitness. I like this one specifically because it takes into account your weight; if you use one that doesn’t, the numbers are likely to be off.

When you have the total number you should intake and the amount burned, begin planning your fitness and food around these numbers. No one wants to be a slave to this, of course, and in general you would only need to be specific about it in the beginning of your weight loss or gain journey. It takes a few weeks to be able to realize how much you are eating and how that fits into your overall needs.  If you do keep track of it for a while, eventually you can give it up and go by intuition, or you can at least maintain it rather than do it on a daily basis.

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Now, if you find that tracking and counting isn’t helping, look at the food you are eating. You might need to trade in low-calorie snacks for higher calorie snacks if you aren’t taking in enough calories, or you may need to munch on lower calorie snacks and foods if your intake number is too high. Remember it takes 3,500 calories to lose or gain a pound. You need to burn off more than you take in if you want to lose, but you want to do it carefully – extreme dieting will NOT make you lose weight, and, in the end, will destroy your health. Ace Fitness recommends you drop 250 calories and burn an extra 250 calories (a half hour walk, say, or 2.5 mile jog) each day, as this 500 caloric change would equal 3,500 calories in a week.

Do you keep track of your caloric intake, or the calories you burn when you exercise? If so, what are the tools you use? And do you see a difference in your weight loss/gain when you do or do not track?

What do you think?

Counting Calories: How to Make it Work for You

Kathy Murdock works as a full time writer and web designer. Recently planted in the middle of the deep south from the busy streets of Los Angeles, when she's not coding Wordpress websites or writing about women in business and thrifty motherhood, Kathy spends time photographing alligators, playing with her family, and running. ... More

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2 comments

  1. MrsPearson says:

    Ill start when i have the baby cause before i never had a problem my body was were i wanted it an i felt okay with hat i ate, but now i really am trying to breastfeed the baby so imma try this to see if itll come natural even after the baby

  2. Phammom says:

    If you count calories for 30 days it becomes easy to do so subconsciously

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