Counting Calories with Your Journal

November 11

Calories are not a bad thing  in fact calories are the way we get our energy from food. Your body has an insatiable appetite for energy and uses the calories from food to keep functioning. Energy from calories fuels all of your body’s actions; much like gasoline powers your car.{+}

Foods that contain calories are the main sources of energy for your body. Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are the types of nutrients that your body needs for energy. Proteins and carbohydrates have about four calories per gram, and fats have about nine calories per gram. Alcohol is high in calories too, with about seven calories per gram.

The calories you eat are either converted to physical energy or stored within your body as fat. It all depends on how active you are and how many calories that you burn versus the number of calories that you eat. If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. Because 3,500 calories equals about one pound of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose one pound.

Cutting calories doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it might be as simple as forgoing one extra item a day, swapping foods or trimming the size of your serving. You would be surprised at how much weight can be lost by cutting out those soft drinks or swapping the giant latte for a regular size coffee.

Now, unlike many of the other diets, my Fitness4Her diet is not primarily about calorie counting, but more what you eat and how much you consume. I believe portion control is a major factor in controlling your weight.

There are two problems with basing your diet on strict calorie-counting: 1) some find it difficult or dull, and dieters with the best of intentions often give up on calorie-counting after a few days; 2) it’s almost impossible to do with any great degree of accuracy.

For example, let’s say you decide to have a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast. The box of cereal says that it contains 110 calories per serving. But how much is a serving? You check the box and find that three quarters of a cup equals a serving. How many of you pour your cereal into a measuring cup before pouring it into the bowl?

You would need to go through the same procedure with the milk that you pour over the cereal, in order to calculate how many calories the milk is adding. If you decide to add a handful of raisins or a few strawberries or a banana to the cereal, you would need to get the calorie count on them, too. So in order to calculate our calories adequately, you would need to bring a calculator, measuring cups and spoons to the table along with your food.

You can see how this could get frustrating to say the least. By the time you come to an accurate, definitive calculation on your caloric intake for breakfast, it may be lunchtime. Then you’ll be doing it all over again.

For most of us, there isn’t enough time in the day to go through all these calculations. The only way we can do it is to make fairly broad estimates.

What we need to concentrate on is the type of foods that we eat. So much of what we put into our body is just junk food. Very little nutritional value and many times way too high in fat, sugar and salt.

• Replace high calorie foods with ones that are lower in calories. For example, drink fat-free milk instead of whole milk and water with a twist of lemon rather than high calorie, high sugar content, soft drinks. Eat an extra spoonful of vegetables at dinner instead of another slice of meat. Choose sliced fresh fruit for snacks instead of chips. Little changes like these make a big difference in your caloric intake.

• Serve smaller portions. Resist the urge to fill your plate from rim to rim. Serve up slightly less than what you think you’ll eat. You can always have seconds, if you are still hungry.

• Never eat from a container or bag. You need to see what you are eating in order to get a sense of how much you’re eating. Seeing food on a plate or in a bowl is much more appetizing and easier for you to realize when you’re full and satisfied.

• Be sure to check food labels for the serving size and number of calories per serving.

• Stop eating as soon as you feel full. Don’t take another bit past that full feeling. Remember, your next meal is only a few hours away.
If you prefer to count calories, your journal is a great place to calculate the number of calories that you eat at each meal. Be sure to include all the condiments, snacks and drinks that you have throughout the day, too.

Since you are tracking your calories, you might find it beneficial to count the grams of fat and carbohydrates that you’re eating too. These high calorie nutrients can sometimes be the hidden problem in an otherwise balanced diet. Make sure you eat protein at every meal, but strive for low fat varieties since fat has more calories per gram.

Your fitness journal makes it easy to stay on top of everything you eat and drink. But just as important as your diet, an active lifestyle is crucial to your health. Record all of your activity including cardio and strength training. You’ll be able to assess how much exercise is needed each day versus the calories that you eat.

Keeping a fitness journal makes my life easier. I hope you will find it helpful in counting calories, writing down your daily meals and tracking your activities, too. It can be one of the best ways to keep an eye on your progress as you work towards your goal.

Avid journalists: Give your comments below.

~ Karen Ficarelli

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  1. Such a cool site. I am bookmarking this page.

  2. Sitesell on 12/18/2009 at 6:07 am
  3. I somehow dont agree with a couple things, but its great anyways!

  4. Forex Rate on 12/18/2009 at 11:25 am
  5. very useful article. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you hear that some Iranian hacker had busted twitter yesterday.

  6. Doris on 12/18/2009 at 1:45 pm
  7. quite interesting article. I would love to follow you on twitter.

  8. Janicecgx on 02/08/2010 at 5:56 pm

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