If you want a quick and easy way to lose weight, counting calories is your best bet. You have the freedom to eat what you want, as long as you keep it at your goal amount. If you allow yourself to have a bit of that something tasty, providing you make up for it by exercising or changing the rest of your day’s caloric intake, you will feel satisfied and not at all like you are dieting! Think of it as simply changing your lifestyle.
First things first–figure out how many calories you need in a day. The average diet for a 140 pound woman is 2000 calories per day, but you’ll need to change your figures, based on your height, weight and activity level, not to mention how much weight you want to lose or gain. Once you know, use these tips to get your weight where you want it.
1. Keep a Food Journal
Start writing down every food you eat for a week. Check out the calorie content on the side of the package and keep track of what you eat, since the start of calorie counting is awareness. A great alternative for those tech-fans is an online calorie tracker or an application on your smart phone. Most sites will count your calorie intake when you simply type in the food and quantity that you ate. Even if you are writing the calories by hand, utilizing an online calorie counter will make your life easy.
2. Practice Portion Control
Teach yourself about portion sizes by using the serving utensils that you would normally use to fill measuring cups that equal the serving sizes that you need. Once you know how many calories are in, say, cereal, you’ll be able to eyeball your intake by knowing how full your cereal bowl should be. That way, you aren’t bringing out the measuring cups at every meal. It would be pretty embarrassing to bust out your 1-cup on a dinner date!
3. Buy a Food Scale
Thin or thick, big or small, meat weight can be tough to estimate, but a food scale can help you while you are prepping dinner. Most meats and fish portions are 4-6 oz servings, but many people eat 6-8 oz, simply because they aren’t aware how much they are eating.
4. Look for Nutritional Info
If you dine out often, this may be the most important tip for you. Many restaurants, especially chains, are required to list calorie and sometimes even fat content. Let that guide your menu choices for super-easy counting. You can also find the calorie rap sheet for most places online before you go, so check out your choices pre-dining. Just keep in mind that most restaurants offer gigantic helpings of food. Keep your portions in check when you are eating.
5. Look to Prepackaged Meals
Train your tummy to eat smaller portions with prepackaged meals, or frozen dinners. The calories are listed on the box, making the count for the meal easy. After some time, you will be familiar with the amount of food that you are eating, making size estimation even easier. Try to buy meals that are lower in sodium and fat and higher in protein, vitamins and fiber for the healthiest choices.
Adding or dropping 500 calories per day from the amount that you need will help you add or drop a half pound per week. Count those calories and you’re on your way!