If you are dieting or trying to cut down on your calorie intake, you may have come across the term “calorie counting”. Even though there’s lots of information out there already on the subject, calorie counting can be a confusing concept to understand, especially with all the jargon.
Therefore, the team at Diets 2 Go have put together a handy guide, giving you everything you need to know about calorie counting, and how our meal prep services can help you in your food and fitness journey to looking and feeling your best.
So, what are calories?
Scientifically, calories are a unit of energy – everything that contains energy has calories. There are two types of calories: a small calorie, or cal, is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1g of water by 1°C; and a large calorie, or kcal, is the energy needed to raise 1kg of water by 1°C. In other words, a large calorie is equal to 1,000 small calories.
Specifically when in reference to food and drink, calories are a unit expressing heat-producing or energy-producing value in food when it is oxidised in the human body. In simpler terms, calories refer to the energy that you get from the things that you consume, and the energy you burn during physical activity.
You will find the number of calories in an item of food or drink on their nutritional label. This is usually one of the food labels found on the back of food packets. The term ‘calorie’, in this context, is given in kcals, short for kilocalories and KJ, or kilojoules, which is the metric measurement.
The calorie labelling may also list the calories per gram, per 100g, or per 100ml, and the total calorie content of a recommended serving for the average person. However, the NHS advises that it is important to note that food producers’ idea of typical food portions may not be the same as yours.
You can then use this information to assess how well a specific food fits into your daily calorie intake, and how well its energy content will fuel your body for the rest of the day.
How do you figure out how many calories per day you should be eating?
Age – Children and teenagers are growing, which means they will need a higher calorie budget.
Metabolism – How high is your metabolic rate? Those with a lower basal metabolic rate may need less calories.
Gender – Typically, men need more calories per day than women.
Lifestyle – For example, your activity level and what gym equipment you use, as incorrect calculations could leave you with an energy imbalance due to burning calories through exercise.
Size – Your size and current weight can affect how quickly you burn energy, particularly in the case of obese and overweight people.
Hormones – Some hormones, such as thyroid hormones, can affect how much energy you use.
Medicines – Certain medicines can also affect your recommended daily calorie intake.
Wellness – When you are unwell, you often need more calories to help your body fight the illness.
The average person requires around 2,000kcal (for women) to 2,500kcal (for men) per day in order to maintain a healthy body weight. As everyone is different, it is important to make sure that you properly research your estimated calorie requirements needed to maintain a healthy energy balance, based on your gender, age, and level of physical activity.
However, if you taking part in any weight loss plans, or, or trying to lose body weight, you don’t want to be consuming excess calories, as this will inevitably result in weight gain. This is because when we eat and drink more calories than we use up, our bodies store the excess as body fat.
Instead, for healthy weight loss, you might choose to lower your daily food intake, focusing on eating low-calorie foods. For weight loss, it is recommended to reduce your calorie intake to around 500 calories less than your body needs to maintain its current weight, which will help you to lose around 1 pound of body weight per week - however, it’s important to remember that everyone is different, and you should never go against the advice of a medical professional when it comes to your diet.
You can hold yourself accountable to this weight loss calorie goal by tracking calories, and calorie counting.
What is calorie counting, and how can it be beneficial?
Calorie counting is scientifically proven to help you to lose weight. This is because calorie counting requires you to keep a record of all food that you eat and any physical activity you do. You can easily do so by keeping food diaries, which might be an electronic or a paper diary, listing the time of day you eat, the calorie content, your food choices, and any activity or exercise you do.
There are also numerous apps that you can use for calorie counting, which can easily be downloaded onto your smartphone or device. You can even find Diets 2 Go on MyFitnessPal, allowing you to effortlessly log your favourite meals.
Tracking your caloric intake can help you to achieve more mindful eating, identifying which eating patterns you should keep an eye on.
If you are struggling with your weight, or your BMI is showing as overweight or obese, this can lead to a whole host of health problems. These health problems include high blood sugar, low energy, high body fat, high blood pressure, higher heart rates, increased risk of heart disease, sleep apnea, mental health problem like depression and anxiety, and much more. Committing to steady weight loss until you are a healthy weight can significantly improve your quality of life.
One way that you can achieve sustainable weight loss is by tracking your daily calories, and the actual calories of your foods. One study found that following a weight loss programme that focuses on monitoring and controlling your caloric intake can lead people to lose around 7 pounds, or 3.3kg, more than people who did not. It is also shown that the more consistently that you record your calories count, the better. People who track their food intake, physical activity, and body weight more frequently will usually benefit from hitting their weight loss goal sooner.
Tips for measuring portions and portion control for correct calorie intake
Nutrition guides will typically tell you how much of a certain food constitutes one recommended serving. However, weighing food out for every meal can be a bit of a hassle. Therefore, here are some top tips for measuring your portions for correct calorie intake.
Use smaller crockery
Using smaller plates, bowls, spoons, and glasses can affect our subconscious, tricking our minds into eating less. For example, one study found that nutrition experts served themselves 31% more ice cream when presented with a bigger bowl, and 14.5% more with bigger spoons.
Use your plate as a guide
If you don’t have the time to constantly measure your food to the exact weight, then you can use your plate as a portion control guide, helping you to serve the optimum macronutrient ratio for a balanced meal.
The average ratio for a plate of food should be:
- Half a plate of vegetables or salad
- One-quarter of a plate of high-quality protein
- One-quarter of a plate of complex carbohydrates – starchy vegetables and whole grains
- Half a tablespoon of foods with a high fat content, including olive oil, cheese, and butter
Use your hands to measure
Another way that you can measure all types of foods without getting out the scales is by using your hands. As taller people require more calories, the size of your hands should correspond to the right portion size for your body.
- High protein foods – 1 palmful for women, 2 palmfuls for men
- Vegetables and salad – 1 fistful for women, 2 fistfuls for men
- Complex and simple carbohydrates – 1 handful for women, 2 handfuls for men
- High-fat food – 1 thumb-sized portion for women, 2 thumbs for men
Can you still eat out? Of course you can!
If you really need to have that junk food or chocolate ice cream, you don’t always have to say no, even though they have hundreds of calories. Healthy eating is all about balance, so just ask for half a portion, or a children’s sized meal.
Use an order meal prep service
And, of course, our favourite tip for helping you to keep up with your portion control is to use an order meal prep service, where your meals come pre-prepared in the perfect portion size for your diet goals, including for weight loss and bodybuilding meals.
How can Diets 2 Go support you in calorie counting and your weight loss calorie goal?
Diets 2 Go can support you in your calorie counting, tailoring your favourite meals to help you towards your weight loss calorie goal. From Mac ‘N’ Cheese at only 429kCal, to Piri Piri Chicken and Wedges at 349kCal, our meals come in the perfect portion size for you, with all nutritional values and calories clearly labelled.
We even have Waffles (306kCal), Pancakes (306kCal), and Organic Biscuits (166kCal), made from natural foods and ingredients to keep them as low calorie and protein-packed as possible. You can find all these meals, your Diets 2 Go favourites, and more on MyFitnessPal, so that you can confidently track your daily calories with ease.
Place your order with Diets 2 Go today, and enjoy your carefully prepared and portion-controlled, healthy meals, expertly crafted by Michelin-experienced chefs, and have them delivered straight to your door, be it your home, office or hotel.
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