100 lb. Club - How do I count calories?

View Full Version : How do I count calories?

04-25-2012, 02:30 AM
I know, this might really seem like a silly question, but looking at my progress lately, I know I have to buckledown much harder than I am now. Problem is, I think I might not have this 'counting calories' thing down yet. I cook alot, so I find it a little difficult to estimate how many calories are in my meals. I find myself eyeballing a lot, and I'm starting to think I'm underestimating things and sabotaging myself. (I've also been allowing myself Too Many Cheats)

So how do you do it? How do I accurately count my calories without using a scale, and using mostly fresh produce etc. and cooking at home?

Do I need to measure every single thing separately and maybe enter it on something like MyPlate? I'd been trying to do that, but their options are really quite limited. Can anyone give me an idea of what an average 1350 calorie a day diet might look like? (or a website that might have sample diets at different calories? Maybe I can start getting basic estimates of what these meals look like)

Also, what do you guys do to remind yourself to keep a food diary? Any tips/trick you can share. I cannot for the life of me remember to write things down:(

04-25-2012, 09:17 AM
Unfortunately I think the key to calorie counting - many diet plans really - is to weigh and measure food. What we think may look like 2 oz of protein is probably more like 4-6 oz. Weighing and measuring really helpsyou understand proper portions.

I do WW, but I also enter calories into my fitness pal (they have an app that is free with a food journal).

When making meals, I weigh and measure everything out and divide by the number of servings. I then weight the entire dish (if it is not easily divisable) and portion out the number of grams pe serving from there.

Hope that helps!

04-25-2012, 09:17 AM
I love counting calories! Doesn't sound like eyeballing is working (been there. done that). I make sure I have my Calorie King book or a computer nearby to look things up. I have a scale, but don't use it much. Let's say I make spaghetti (ok, not your fresh produce example, but this will give you an idea)and use 2 pnds of lean ground beef...I look up how many calories 2 pnds of lean ground beef is. I then figure the calories for however many packages of noodles, spaghetti sauce, etc. Add up ALL of the calories, figure how many reasonable servings you want to divide that into (200-300 cal) and there you go. If you have a computer you can look up the calories for anything (1 cup carrots, lettuce, etc).

I tend to eat the same foods so I have a lot of the calories memorized. I also have Fitness Pal on my phone, so I can add up calories all day long (if I want).

Really easy!

04-25-2012, 09:54 AM
Okay, myfitnesspal is a HUGE tool. I cook a lot too and I enter recipes into myfitnesspal as soon as I think about them. It's very easy to enter in all the amounts, like the spaghetti example up there, and then pick how many servings it will make, and it will log exactly how much one serving is and save it in your log. It also has pretty much everything, even small restaurants here have calories in myfitnesspal.
Measuring is my big problem with calorie counting (not that I have a problem with calorie counting, I love it) but my solution, rather than buying a scale, is to look up on google "how much is two oz of meat" and it will give you an easy guide. I think 4 oz is the size of your palm? And an oz of cheese is the size of a pair of dice. They have comparisons like that for a lot of things and they really help me. Of course, anything that is measured in terms of cups can be measured out in a measuring cup. Lol.

04-25-2012, 10:13 AM
Unfortunately, I think weighing your food is the only way to really know for sure how many calories you consume. I use SparkPeople for my calorie counting (when I actually do it). It's a great site that offers meal plans, shopping lists, healthy recipes, exercise plans, and food and exercise trackers. And it's free!!

04-25-2012, 10:42 AM
My food scale is a lifesaver!!! Definitely have to weigh and you can get one for so cheap.
Once you've weight the same apple 15 times then, sure, I start to eyeball... but every once in a while I go back to weigh an item just to make sure my brain hasn't skewed and an actual serving is. LOL

If it's produce or non-labled items I just use google to find out the calories. Mostly I check nutritiondata.com .... but will search out the others if they don't have anything.
I track on my own spreadsheet.

Hitting 1300/1400 for me means, no breakfast or less than 100 calories, 600 calories at lunch, 600 calories at dinner, and a couple days a week a 150 calorie nighttime snack.

04-25-2012, 01:14 PM
Thanks everyone! Unfortunately, where I live right now it's not possible for me to have a scale. But your tips are really helpful. I never thought of using a spreadsheet, so I'm going to start that because I spend a lot of time on my computer (I'm a writer)

When I move back to the states the first two things I'll be buying is a kitchen scale and a food processor. :)

04-25-2012, 01:24 PM
If you've got a smart phone, I recommend LoseIt. I find lots of things I eat are already calculated for me. Or for things like fruit and veg are counted out in "pieces." If you don't have a smart phone, you can still use it online but it isn't quite as easy. (http://loseit.com/)

04-25-2012, 01:36 PM
I loooooove LoseIt! The scanner is fabulous.
I *do* eyeball my food, but growing up in with a diabetic little brother (type 1), and weighing out every morsel he ever ate, I can now eyeball pretty much anything within 5g. That being said, it's usually really shocking for most people when they start weighing, so it's a really good way to build a solid calorie-knowledge foundation.

04-25-2012, 04:31 PM
There are sites where you can enter in whole recipes, not just individual ingredients which make things super easy. You do however need to measure and weigh everything (weighing is far more accurate then measuring).

I try and eat somewhat of the same meals regularly just to keep things simple. I think I rotate between 5 different breakfasts, several different lunches and like 7 different dinners.

04-25-2012, 05:11 PM
I just keep my daily meals in a file that is on my desktop screen. I made a file called "daily tracking and menus". Then I made it as an icon on my screen. When I come on, I just put in what I have eaten as I go along. It's ezypzy ...

Date: Wednesday, april 25
BF -- egg + toast/mrg + orange + coffee = 300
LN -- wg tuna sandwich + 1 cup soup = 360
DN -- 4 oz chicken breast + small np + veggies = 340
SNX -- baby carrots, yogurt, almonds, apple, chz, teas = 265
TTL -- 1265

I also use a scale and have two calorie counting books right by my PC. One is a purse book by Dell, and the other is novel size (and has all the nutrient values in them too). I have been doing this for so long that I have many things memorized by now.

1 oz cheeze = the size of your thumb
4 oz meat = the palm of your hand
1/2 cup veggies = the size of a medium apple or 1/4 plate
starchy carb serving = your hand fisted or 1/4 plate
veggies = half plate
salads = half plate or cereal bowl

Goddess Jessica
04-25-2012, 06:37 PM
I cook at home a lot too and I don't make the same thing over and over again so I do a mix of eyeballing and measuring.

I eyeball all fruits and veggies and super lean protein (fish, chicken breast). My reasoning is that I don't really care if I eat a lot of these things so I don't track it. It works for me but everyone is different. If I'm hungry and I want 4 more ounces of chicken breast, I eat it.

I measure almost everything else (cheeses, fats, oils, grains). I use a scale (a inexpensive $20) for almost everything.

I am on WeightWatchers (obviously I have modified it to suit me) and use their iPhone app. It is amazing. I never tracked prior to the app.