A lot of times when people first start off on their journey to health and fitness they turn to calorie counting to keep track of how much they’re eating. The process of recording calories can be a beneficial one, keeping you accountable and aware of how much food you’re consuming, but it can also be misleading and somewhat defeating if you go into it blindly. If you’ve decided to start using calorie counting as a means of tracking your food, use these tips to do so effectively:
Don’t rely solely on calories.
It seems simple enough – you count calories and come in at or below a certain number and you hit your goal, go over and you didn’t. However there’s more to it than just that: the quality of the food you’re eating plays just as important of a role as the number of calories in it. You could eat 2000 calories a day of donuts and pretzels and it won’t be even close to the same thing as eating 2000 calories a day of eggs, lean cuts of chicken, fruits, and vegetables. One of those options is better for you; it’s not the donuts and pretzels.
Remember to factor in exercise, but don’t overestimate how many calories you’ve burned.
The days that you work out you’re going to need more calories to make up for the ones you burned during exercise. However many people overestimate how many calories they burn when they work out. You can’t get calorie-laden frappucinos with breakfast or go for fried chicken for lunch just because you hit the gym for an hour before work because more often than not you’ll end up consuming far more calories than you burned off. Instead tack on an extra 100-300 calories to your day and then continue to make healthy food choices.
Learn portion sizes.
Portion sizes are tricky and it’s easy to guesstimate a portion size and be completely off base. When eating cuts of chicken, meat, or fish, your serving should be no larger than the size of a card deck. This is especially important if you’re going out to eat because most people severely underestimate how many calories are in restaurant meals and can end up wrecking their calorie count for the day because of this. It’s also helpful when you first start calorie counting to measure out all of your foods for a few weeks to help you get comfortable with what an actual serving size is. Far too often people completely misjudge what they believe to be a portion size, both by too much or too little.
Weigh yourself once a week.
Your weight will fluctuate on a daily basis because of water weight, sodium intake, the temperature outside, etc. It can become all-consuming and frustrating to weigh yourself one day and come in at a loss from the previous day, then eat perfectly all day and weigh in more the next day. Instead weigh yourself once a week, on the same day, at the same time, and wearing the same clothes. This will help you see if your current calorie consumption and exercise routine is working for you or not.
There’s more to calorie counting then simply tallying up your calorie intake, and it’s important to get familiar with all aspects of tracking calories before you start to do so. However, diligently watching your food intake and keeping track of your calories can be extremely beneficial to your weight loss goals. Don’t beat yourself up if you have one bad day, just turn it around the next day and get back on track.