With the New Year having just hit, tons of people will be turning to calorie counting as their primary means for losing weight. Calorie counting, when used correctly, is probably the most effective method for controlling one’s weight. With that said, so many people struggle to do so accurately, especially those new to the process. For these people, we’ve come up with four simple steps to make sure your calorie counting is as accurate as possible.
1) Get A Tracking App
Almost everyone has a smart-phone these days giving them access to an endless amount of apps. Instead of wasting your time and storage on Angry Birds, download a calorie counting app that has a directory. Nutritionix and MyFitnessPal are both really good choices here. This app is where you will log all the food you eat for the day and it will help you quantify your intake.
2) Pay Attention To Labels
Tons of foods come packaged with labels listing their calorie content. Use these labels to your advantage to help you input information into the app you downloaded. Be sure to pay extra attention to the serving size on the labels, however. Labels will often have multiple servings per container meaning the calories listed only make up a portion of what you are eating/drinking. Not taking notice of this leads to tons of people misreporting their calorie consumption. Take notice.
3) Get A Food Scale
A food scale is a very good investment for those aiming to maximize their calorie counting precision. When do food scales come in handy? Tons of foods have labels that give the calories dependent on the weight of the food. For example, if you buy chicken breast it may say 4oz of chicken breast is 120 calories. This is when you need a food scale.
It would be very difficult to know what 4oz is without a food scale. Sure, after using one for a bit you may become better at eyeballing things but without ever having a food scale in the first place how would you do so?
It is important to note that you do not need to be deadly accurate with the food scale. For example, if you are planning on drinking 8oz of milk and you pour 8.3oz, you don't need to pour some milk back in the container. As long as you are coming reasonably close with the weighing you’ll be just fine. There’s no need to become overly obsessive.
4) Estimate When Out To Eat
Some people believe that while dieting going out to eat is A) out of the question and/or B) a huge setback. For the most part, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Tons of restaurants/food chains now list the nutrition facts of their entire menu online. If you go to a restaurant/food chain that does this, simply use the nutrition facts listed and input them into your app. Are the nutrition facts they list fully accurate? Maybe. Maybe not. But, it’s the best you're going to do and it’s probably going to do a really good job of putting you in the ballpark of being correct. So just use them and remember: there’s no need to become crazy obsessive.
While many restaurants/food chains now list the nutrition facts of their entire menu online, some still don’t. If you find yourself out to eat at one of these restaurants, here’s what you’re going to do:
1) Choose an option off the menu that will probably fit in with your daily calories
2) Look up the food on the directory in your app
3) See what the average calories are for the particular dish you’re choosing from other restaurants
4) Input the average dish (or choose one with slightly higher calories to err on the side of caution — assuming your goal is weight loss)
5) Enjoy your meal and go about the rest of your day worry-free
Here’s an example of this at work:
I go out for a late dinner with a friend and I have 600 calories left. I’m kind of in the mood for pizza. I search pizza on the app and find that most restaurants list 2 slices of plain pizza as 500 calories. I input this into my app, eat the pizza, and call it a day on eating.
Consistency, Not Perfection, Is Key
The biggest factor in successful calorie counting is consistency. As mentioned before, you do not need to be 100 percent accurate. You just need to be reasonably close daily so that your weight consistently trends in the direction you want and you achieve your desired goal. Happy calorie counting!