How to Track Calories Easily and Lose Weight

Published by John Camp on

Last Updated on

You want to lose weight?  So do I. But why do you want to lose weight? Find your reason, make it your motivation and remind yourself of your goals. Are you worried about your health?  Do you wish to be more active and fit? Perhaps you want to build in the confidence you have been missing and this is your first step.

For me the motivation is simple;   I have a new daughter and I want to be a part of her life.  While there is a history of diabetes in my family, but there also seems to be a history of weight gain.  I get to break the trend!

They have been telling us for years to diet and exercise… but let’s face it, no one wants to do that.

Are calories bad for you?

What many of us tend to forget is that calories are not the enemy.  They are more like the friend we take for granted.

Calories are energy!  We use this energy every day when working, playing and even resting. How many calories we use is based on so many factors including age, weight, gender and, of course, how active you may be.

As with most fitness plans, calorie counting, or at least tracking your calories in food versus your calories burned estimate, will go a long way to reaching your target weight.

How many calories do we need?

AgeSedentaryModerately ActiveActive

Females

19-301800-20002000-22002400
31-50180020002200
51+160018002000-2200

Males

19-302400-26002600-28003000
31-502200-24002400-26002800-3000
51+2000-22002200-24002400-2800

Source: WebMD

How many calories can I eat and still lose weight?

The healthiest way to lose weight is approximately a pound or two every week.  This requires patience and planning. The fad diet, the quick fix, may kick-start some weight loss but time and again people put the weight back on when it’s only part of their diet plan.

It’s in the development of healthy habits that the weight comes off and stays off.  By controlling your intake of calories, and establishing healthier habits through nutrition and fitness, you can achieve a more healthy weight and maintain the physique you work hard to create.

General rule of thumb: use the above chart as your calorie intake to maintain your current weight.

  • Subtract 500 calories consumed each day and you may lose up to 2 pounds a week.
  • And for every 30 minutes of exercise, I allow myself an additional 250 food calories.

That might be a treat of a glass of red wine with a few Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses at the end of a long day. Ahhhh!

What are good calories and bad calories?

While calories are useful to your body, there are some calories that are not unhealthy. By consuming processed foods, foods with refined flour and food that contains an abundance of added sugar, you are eating a lot of calories that provide almost no nutritional value.

This is commonly referred to as “consuming empty calories”. When this happens, you could be eating your daily allotment of calories, but not gaining anything nutritious or providing that sought after energy balance.

As a rule of thumb:

Good and bad calories

How do you measure calories?

A calorie is the energy required to heat 1 kg of water by 1 degree Celsius.  And while there isn’t a perfect way to measure your calorie count, there are some great fitness trackers out there to help you understand the intake of calories, keep you aware of how much and how often you are eating while trying to achieve your fitness goals.

Here are some of the most popular calorie counters to track your fitness:

  • MyFitnessPal
  • SparkPeople
  • MyNetDiary
  • FatSecret
  • Lose It!
  • CRON-O-meter

How to track calories easily: When I am not using a fitness tracker, I try to overestimate my caloric intake, and underestimate my calorie burn.

How many calories do I burn while exercising?

Cutting calories is a big part of controlling weight gain, and of equal importance is fitness-based physical activity.

Different activity levels will burn calories at different rates. In one 30-minute workout, a 200 lb (~90kg) person can burn the following approximate number of calories:

Chart: What activities burn calories?

Approximate amount of calories burntWorkoutHow long to exercise

125 calories

A walk at a relaxed pace30 min

130 calories

Bicycling at a relaxed pace30 min

135 calories

Bowling30 min

180 calories

volleyball, gymnasium30 min

190 calories

golf, walking – no cart!30 min

230 calories

Walking at a brisk pace30 min

265 calories

Swimming, relaxed to moderate pace30 min

280 calories

Weight training30 min

310 calories

Jogging30 min

We already covered how calories=energy.  It’s important to note that with a loss of calories comes a natural loss of metabolic rate.  To cut calories but keep your energy level up you will need to incorporate an exercise regimen.

Since you are still reading this, you are interested in losing weight just like the rest of us.  And just like the rest of us, you will have to find what works for you. There isn’t a quick, easy magical process to shed pounds.  But, there is a really great benefit to earning it; once you reach your ideal weight, it will be easier to maintain that weight.

You will have given yourself the tools you need to create new habits, enjoy new levels of energy and live a happier day-to-day life.

Additional ideas to easier track calories and lose weight:

  • Cut the carbs, increase the protein!
  • Serve your food on a smaller plate – portion control!
  • Reduce, or even eliminate, soda and juice
  • Increase water intake, especially before eating
  • Experiment with cooking food high in nutrients by finding new and exciting recipes
  • Reading food labels on the side of pre-portioned food.
  • Treat yourself when you maintain your goal weight.

Using these tips you may find that eating less isn’t such a bad thing.  You may find you are able to taste food better. You will be trying new and healthy foods, in some cases for the first time.  You will appreciate the next meal more and plan for it with gusto.

How to Start Tracking Calories NOW

I have created a very simple and minimal weight loss planner for you to download in any format you prefer (whether it’s printable PDF or editable Word). Grab yourself a copy here. It will hopefully help you keep your goals in mind, keep track of your progress and turn calorie counting into a daily routine.

Calorie counting planner

You can also find a perfect meal planner by using tips from this article.

And what’s your trick to making calorie counting easy and doable? Let’s discuss!

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