Calorie Counting 101

Calorie Counting

Believe it or not, weight loss is as simple as burning more calories than you consume, also known as a caloric deficit.

Having an estimate of how large of a caloric deficit you have can give you a rough idea of how much weight you will lose as time goes on.

What is calorie counting?

One of the most reliable ways to track your calories is by calorie counting. Calorie counting is the act of keeping a record of how many calories you eat daily and, depending on your situation, can also account for how many calories you burn per day.

Calories are units of energy that food gives you, they are fuel for your body to operate as it needs to, and without calories, you wouldn’t have any energy. The way weight gain works is like a seesaw; your body needs a certain number of calories to operate, and this number changes depending on your activity level.

If you eat more calories than you need, then you gain weight, if you eat just enough calories, you will maintain your weight, and if you don’t eat enough calories, you lose weight. How much weight you gain or lose depends on how many calories above or below your maintenance calories you consume daily.

PRO TIP: To get a reasonably accurate calculation of how many calories you need to maintain your weight, use a Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) Calculator. A TDEE Calculator uses your demographics to roughly calculate the number of calories you need to keep your weight. If you use this number as a benchmark, then you know that to lose weight, you need to eat less than the benchmark and vice-versa if you want to gain weight.

The benefit of calorie counting.

The benefit of calorie counting is that you can fairly accurately calculate your weight loss rate if done correctly. Losing a pound a week is equal to a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories per week, so, at the end of each week, if you have consumed 3,500 calories less than you need to maintain your weight, then you can expect to be about a pound lighter.

There is also a strong sense of accomplishment to go back and look at your wins, the weeks you succeeded in your goals, and use them as motivation to stay on the path of losing weight. If the scales don’t show a number you like, your track record will.

[Need more ideas for staying healthy this holiday season? Click here!]

The best way to count calories.

When it comes to counting calories, a log tends to be a reliable way to do so. Whether this is in the form of an application on your smartphone, a notebook, or a spreadsheet, anything will typically work if you write it down and see your progress with time and calculate your daily calories.

Beyond the TDEE Calculator mentioned above, the standard caloric intake for adult males is 2,400 calories per day and 2,000 calories per day for adult females. If you are more or less active than the average person, this number will change, so using the TDEE Calculator is convenient since it is more accurate. Still, the average caloric intake for adults can be a useful starting point.

Why it works.

Counting calories is truly a time-tested way to lose weight. In fact, many studies show that recording your food intake and physical activity are very effective ways to help you lose weight. There are three reasons why calorie counting likely works:

  • Tracking your calories can help you eat mindfully and identify which eating patterns you need to watch to be successful when losing weight.
  • Being aware of what you eat through tracking can give you an approximate baseline to work from and compare with when you’re trying to reduce calories.
  • Keeping track of what you eat can help you monitor your behavior. It can help keep you accountable for your daily food choices and motivate you to progress.

The bottom line is to lose weight; you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. Many find that counting calories is an effective way to consciously create and maintain this deficit.

Whether you use high-tech apps or a simple pen or paper method, it doesn’t matter how you count calories. Just try to be as consistent as possible; an accurate number will help you get the health or weight loss results you want.

Making positive lifestyle changes and losing weight isn’t always easy, and sometimes you need some help. The Simple Clinic can help you achieve your goals with a healthy combination of nutrition, fitness, and medication therapy. If you are ready to put yourself first and kick off the New Year right, contact us today!