To lose weight you simply need to be burning off more calories than you consume. Well, it sounds easy enough but many of us are unable to see the results you may expect.
So, how can you count calories for weight loss? Here are some tips that will help.
What are calories?
Simply put, calories are a measure of energy. Usually it is used to measure the amount of energy found in the food and drinks you consume.
For a more technical explanation, a calorie is defined by the amount of energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1 °C.
The calories you consume are used by your body for various functions including breathing, as well as walking and talking.
If you consume more calories than your body needs then it will be stored as fat, which obviously will result in weight gain over time.
How many calories should you be eating?
This would depend on a number of factors including:
- Activity levels
There are online tools that can help you work out how many calories you should be consuming.
Remember you must create a calorie deficit to experience any weight loss.
Are there apps that can help with calorie counting?
There are apps available that can help you to count calories. One of the most popular is My Fitness Pal, but it is certainly not the only option.
If you have a smartphone I would advise you to use an app to keep track of your calories, but you can also use a more traditional approach; pen and paper.
Simply write down what you eat and drink, but you must ensure to be as accurate as possible. So make sure to weigh everything.
What about portion control?
When calorie counting you need to be as accurate as possible with your portion sizes. It is certainly not a good idea to guesstimate your calorie intake.
The most common ways to measure portion sizes are:
- Measuring cups
If these are not available there are other methods you can use to give a rough estimate:
- 1 serving of rice = 1 handful
- 1 serving of meat = a deck of cards
- 1 serving of fish = a cheque book
- 1 serving of fresh fruit = tennis ball
- 1 serving of vegetables = a computer mouse
- 1 teaspoon of oil = a fingertip
While these are ok for rough estimates, like I have already said calorie counting relies on accuracy.
It is extremely easy to underestimate how much you are eating, so you may not see the weight loss you would expect.
Don’t forget the quality of your diet is important
The amount of food you eat is just one thing to consider, you also should consider the quality of the foods you eat too.
Certain foods can have different effects on your body, for example some can cause you to become lethargic, while others could cause you to experience cravings for food.
If weight loss is your goal then good quality foods are recommended. Stick to foods that have been minimally processed, as these will be full of the vital nutrients your body needs.
So, should you count calories for weight loss?
While calorie counting has been shown to be useful for those looking to lose weight, it really isn’t as simple as that.
The quality of the food you eat and the portion sizes will also have an impact too.
Perhaps for best results you should look at changing all 3 if necessary.