Keeping Track of Calories

how to track calories for weight loss

Calories are Fuel 

Calories are the energy stored in food that your body uses its every day functions.  Your body burns these calories by just to keep you alive and it even burns calories while you sleep. This is why it is so important to track calories.

The calories you consume are either burned as energy or stored in your body as fat.  The calories that are stored in your body can later be used by doing a physical activity, which requires your body to search for that stored energy.  Burning fat is directly related to the amount of exercise you do.

Tracking Calories

Lowering Your Caloric Intake

The purpose of following a calorie-counting diet is is to consume less calories than you normally eat, while adding some type of exercise to your life.  You start out by figuring how many calories you’ll need to eat in one day to lose weight.  You can do this by reducing your caloric intake by 20%.  For example, if your body typically burns 2,000 calories in a day to stay at your current weight, then eat 1,600 calories.   By reducing your caloric intake by only 20%, you’re not going to be that hungry all day, but you’re still going to see results.

Read food labels to find out how many calories are included in each portion whatever  food you’re eating.  If you can’t find food labels for certain items, then look up the caloric count online.  It’s pretty simple.  After a while, you’ll automatically know the amount of calories in each portion of every food you eat.

How to Track Calories

When you’re starting out, write down every meal you eat and how many calories were included in your meal.   Be specific and include the type of food, the number of portions you ate, and the number of calories for each portion size.   Don’t worry about not knowing the amount of calories in your food when you go out dining.  Since you’re trying to lose weight, you should never eat out anyways.

A typical meal can consist of a serving of a lean protein like chicken breast or fish, a serving of carbohydrates like pasta or parboiled rice, and serving of vegetables that contain your vitamins and minerals.  I would recommend eating a good-sized breakfast that includes whole grains so that you start the day feeling full.

It doesn’t really matter if you eat more calories during certain periods of the day as long as you meet your caloric count every day.

Track Food Intake

You can use a pen and paper or a spreadsheet to track your daily calorie consumption.  If you’ve never counted calories before, your first week is going to be a learning experience.  Most people don’t realize how much they overeat. Get yourself a measuring cup, a scale, use your spoons, read labels, and measure every portion of food you eat.

You can make yourself a Calorie Counting Plan and track your calories on a spreadsheet like this:

simple calorie tracking sheet

Track calories easily

This example shows a typical day where 3 full meals and 1,880 calories were consumed.  To reduce the number of calories, keep the same meals, but reduce the portions.  It’s simple.  I didn’t add snacks to it.  But if you happen to snack during the day, just add it as an item to one of the meals.  Record your weight at the beginning of the week and then again at the end of the week to track your progress.  Also, post the total number of calories you consumed for that week.

Track your Progress 

To track calories and progress, write down every week how many calories you consumed and how much weight you lost.  If you see progress after a week, great!  Stay with your plan.  If you’re not seeing any progress, make sure you’re honest with yourself about the food you are.  Are you eating any snacks in between and not counting those calories?  You’d be surprised how much fat and calories are infused into a scoop of ice-cream.   Another option is to increase the intensity and frequency of your exercise so that you burn more calories each day.

If you’re feeling hungry all the time, try increasing the amount of fibers and proteins in your meals.  Fibers make you feel full and protein takes longer to digest so it’ll stay in your stomach for a longer period.  Whatever adjustments you need to do, just make sure that you keep your daily caloric count at the number you set.  You will become an expert at controlling how much weight your body can lose.

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