Part Three: Tools, Tips and Methods to Count Calories
Before the Internet, counting calories would have been a major pain in neck. However, the accumulation of large online databases means you can find out how many calories are in a half a cup of sweet potato in less than sixty seconds. And if you have a smart phone you can carry that information and track your daily calories all from a tiny handheld device. Isn’t technology wonderful?
Let’s take a look at some of the many ways you can track, count, and calculate your daily caloric intake.
Food journals are the most basic and often the easiest to use. You can purchase a food journal or you can make one yourself either using spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel, or a simple lined notebook. A food journal that you purchase will generally have places for you to track meals, snacks, beverages, calories, and portion sizes. Some food journals, like the Biggest Loser Food Journal also have recipes and exercise as well as motivational tips.
You can also use a calendar format to track your calories. For example, you might place the day of the week across the top, and along the side you would list your meals. In each space you can document what you ate and what the calorie count for the meal was. Total your rows at the end of the day, and also how many calories you burned during exercise. You can then estimate how much you’ll lose that week.
Calorie Counting Sites, Services, and Applications
Food journals work well for tracking calories but how do you identify how many calories are in the foods you eat? There are many websites that can help you find the answer.
Consider adding the following to your browser bookmarks:
Some of these sites, Caloriecount.about.com for example, is free. Other sites like LoseIt.com are membership sites. They charge a fee, but may offer the features that you’re looking for. Some of these features may include the ability to track your calories in addition to providing you the calorie information.
Many of them also offer mobile applications so you can take your calorie tracking tools with you.
Today there are many different devices that you can wear that track your calories. You simply clip them on or strap them to your wrist. They track your activity, much like a pedometer, and they calculate the calories you burn.
The information is sent to your computer either wirelessly or by USB connection and uploaded to your profile page. You can then add your meals and calories using their interface. These systems often provide mobile applications as well. Some of the devices to consider include the FitBit (FitBit.com) and TheBodyMediaFit (BodyMedia.com). These devices generally cost between one hundred and two hundred dollars.
Take a look at the various options. You may find that a simple notebook that you can put into your pocket or purse works best for you. Or you may learn that you enjoy the use of the mobile applications. Compare your options and choose one that not only fits your budget, but also your personality. The most important question to ask is, “Will I follow through and use this calorie counting tool consistently?”
Armed with the right tools and techniques, as well as a ton of knowledge, you’re ready to get started with a calorie counting program. Let’s walk through the steps one more time so you feel confident and eager to get started.
- Identify your metabolic resting rate.
- Identify your weight loss goal.
Determine how many calories you want to eat each day to meet your weight loss goal. Note: Doctors and nutrition experts strongly recommend not dipping below 1,200 calories a day. Eating fewer than 1,200 calories a day can harm your body and your long-term health.
- Decide how you’re going to add exercise to your day so you can boost your metabolism, lose weight faster, and have more calories to work with in your daily meal planning.
- Plan your meals and snacks to optimize your nutrition and calories.
- Decide how you’re going to track calories and where you’ll obtain your caloric intake information.
- Decide how you’re going to track your fitness and exercise and where you’ll obtain your caloric burn information.