Weight loss tip you’ve probably heard before: Track your calorie intake. Or keep a food diary.
When I decided to get serious about my health, I thought it would be a useful exercise to try calorie counting. What I got out of it was a serious wake-up-call about the food I was putting into my body. And it wasn’t the cake and cookies I would have occasionally – it was what I was eating every day.
Here’s an example list of things people commonly eat:
1 tablespoon of oil: 120 calories (after realizing how calorie-dense oil was, I started cooking my food by simmering in broth or water)
1 tablespoon of ranch dressing: 145 calories
1 chicken breast: 260 calories
1 cup of skim milk: 103 calories
1 tablespoon of heavy cream: 51 calories
1 banana: 100 calories
2 slices of bread: 250 calories
1 cup of yogurt: 100 calories
1 teaspoon of butter: 102 calories
20 corn chips: 200 calories
5 oz wine: 123 calories
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese: 228 calories
Total: 1782 calories
Whoa! What just happened?
Can you see just how quickly things add up? Add that to the fact that you don’t actually know what restaurants put in your food. I didn’t have any rice, pasta, or even dessert on that list!
Unfortunately, yes – every little thing really counts and you are probably eating more than you think.
When I was losing weight, I used the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone to track my calorie intake. The app (you can also use the full website) allows you to input your weight and weight loss goal and it will calculate your daily calorie intake allowance. You can also add calories burned from your workout. Best of all, it’s free! Keep in mind that you burn a certain amount of calories at rest – this is called your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). You can calculate yours here.
The exercise was more to educate myself about how much I was eating than to really track my calories, but I learned a tough lesson about my eating habits – they were actually terrible.
So try counting your calories – religiously – even just for a week, and if you have anything you’d like to share about your experience, leave it in the comments below!