Calorie Counters - What works well for you?

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03-29-2013, 12:52 PM
How do you calorie count? Do you plan the next day's meals in detail? Do you just have a certain number of calories set aside for each meal and snack?

What I'm doing now seems to be working well for me but I'm always up for learning from others. If I'm going to have a fairly structured day (i.e. school), I'll plan my meals and snacks out as much as possible and just tweak it as I actually go through the day. If it's a weekend, I kind of fly by the seat of my pants but try to keep each meal to a reasonable number of calories.

What works well for you?

03-29-2013, 12:59 PM
i understand that this may not work well for everyone. I repeat meals. often. I go to the same restaurant EVERY DAY for lunch. I have one of two things, Their chicken breast sandwich (i usually save half of the roll for later) OR a bowl of their chicken soup. there are no sides of fries or whatnot. they have raw carrots on the counter that they give out for free. I know what the calorie count is and i really don't mind eating the same thing.:carrot: workin' for me.

03-29-2013, 01:15 PM
What I do right now is just sort of add up my calories as I go along and try to stay within my target for the day... but I've found that I can go over by a couple of hundred calories and maintain my weight pretty easily... although I exercise a lot... so that's probably helping... when I'm actively trying to lose I try to be a bit more strict... I count carbs as well, so that tends to be my main focus these days...

I've actually been wanting to move away from really strict calorie counting or at least not have to think about it so much, so I've been thinking about trying to plan more of my meals in advance and just have my calorie targets planned in that way... but I've never really been very good at making up meal plans in advance... but it would be really nice not to have to add everything up everyday and just know what I was eating was within my calorie range for the day... I would really love that...

03-29-2013, 01:35 PM
I use MFP to track calories and with few exceptions, I enter everything the night before. So, when I go to bed, the entire next day's meals and snacks are planned and entered. I am trying to get better about checking my macros as well, since I'm trying to eat more protein and fewer carbs and keep my fiber above 25g.

I like not having to make decisions during the day.

I also do weekly meal planning (although this week has been a mental rather than written plan.) People have encouraged me for years to do a weekly meal plan and I've balked. Now that I'm doing it, I can't believe I balked so much.

Sunday evening: Plan next week's meals and make shopping list
Monday after work: shop
Thursday or Friday after work: shop for produce as needed

The structure has helped me keep on track. Although I don't repeat daily, like CQ680, there's a lot of repetition. Monday night is rotisserie chicken. Every other Tuesday night is ribeye. Every other week we have taco salad.

I will say that this method is saving us money even though I pay almost no attention to prices and just buy what's on my list.

1) I only buy what is planned for the week. I used to use a "what looks good" approach to shopping and large quantities of items ended up in my pantry or freezer that didn't get planned into a meal.

2) We don't eat out on a whim, which we were doing multiple times a week--close to every day, some weeks.

3) It's less stressful in the evenings. Deciding what to make was hard for me--always harder than making it. Having a plan simplifies dinner into "make it" and takes away the "what the heck should I make?" aspect of it.

4) It forces me to ignore the "don't feel like it" approach to grocery shopping--I shop Mondays after work. No choice. That's what I do.

So, less stress, better eating, and more consistent schedule. It's working well at our house.

03-29-2013, 06:53 PM
I have always liked to stick to the same things for awhile...recently it's been whole wheat toast and real honey for breakfast...I have a variety of things that I fall back on that I love...whole wheat noodles with spinach, greek yogurt, cheeses, vegetables, chicken, almond milk, diet hot chocolate...those are just some of the things...I stick to a calorie limit the best that I can and I just track my calories throughout the day, knowing that if I eat too much, too early then I will be over my target for the day...

03-30-2013, 10:12 AM
I don't have much structure, but I mentally estimate everything and shoot for 300-400 calorie meals and then 2-3 100 calorie snacks in the day. The only thing I really think more about is my packed lunches or when I know I'm going out to eat. Then I look ahead and check out their menu online.

out from under
03-30-2013, 02:11 PM
What works best for me is to put a majority of my calories in the PM. I can easily manage a whole day on just 200 calories, just to make sure I have enough calories to eat for later at night. That way I'm less likely to binge and I can "afford" to eat my favorite foods but still stay within my calorie range.

03-30-2013, 02:16 PM
Every weekend, I plan every meal for the week, using the food tracker on to make sure I hit my target macronutrients for each day. I also try to prepare foods in advance to make eating right through the week much easier.

03-30-2013, 08:46 PM
I also tend to repeat certain meals, especially breakfast. A staple for me is an English muffin and organic peanut butter. I go to the same restaurants, especially Panera Bread, Bob Evans and Cracker Barrel. All have options under 500 calories so I don't mind eating the same things every time I go there. I cannot enjoy a meal when I don't know what's in the food I'm eating. I just can't. I'd rather eat something I know is "safe" than worry about it until I figure out the nutrition info. I track my calories on MFP as well.

03-30-2013, 09:04 PM
I often eat similar things, but I just can't plan meals. I'm terrible at sticking to plans, especially since I often don't feel like eating whatever I might have been intending to eat. I basically end up just winging it, with a vague idea of the number of calories I want to eat for a particular meal and the types of foods I want to make sure I eat during the day.

03-31-2013, 12:21 AM
I'm a creature of habit, I eat pretty much the same thing at the same time everyday. Very little difference from day to day...

03-31-2013, 09:34 PM
I count my meals from dinner to dinner, not breakfast for dinner. For example, my 'breakfast' is last night's dinner, my lunch is today's breakfast, and my 'dinner' is my afternoon snack. Then it all resets after that.

It might seem odd, but it works for me because dinner is the more unpredictable meal. My boyfriend is very spontaneous and I don't always know ahead of time if he feels like going out or something.

So in the old days, I would go out for dinner with, say, 400 calories left in the day, then eat 700 calories and have no way to make up for it, and feel bad that I ruined the whole thing. Now, I can just adjust breakfast and lunch accordingly, throw in an extra walk or workout, and come out even for the day.

I also used to have a different activity level in MFP. I put the middle amount because my job is active, but I think MFP is overly generous with what it gives you for that and I didn't lose. Now, I have it on the lowest activity setting and just eat back my workout calories, and if I balance my day so I net where I should, I lose.

It is my fifth week with these two changes and I have lost 7 pounds so far.

04-01-2013, 09:06 PM
What works best for me is to put a majority of my calories in the PM. I can easily manage a whole day on just 200 calories, just to make sure I have enough calories to eat for later at night. That way I'm less likely to binge and I can "afford" to eat my favorite foods but still stay within my calorie range.

I do the same. I intermittent fast from 9pm to 5pm daily. I'm just not hungry during the day.

Also, I do low carb.

I write my food down in a daytimer booklet and record my weight and daily calories in there. That way, even if there is no computer nearby, I can write down what I ate and check the calories later.

04-01-2013, 09:59 PM
Breakfast is one of three things. Yogurt and Holy Crap, steel cut oats with apples and cinnamon or on the weekends, and egg sandwich. Lunch is usually leftover from dinner the night before. Chicken breast, salmon, ground turkey or lean ground beef, usually with a large salad (spinach, carrots, cuke, mushroom and tomatoes). Then sometimes quinoa, occasionally rice or steamed veggies. Once and a while I will go crazy and try a few new recipes looking for something to add to the rotation.

Recently I have been buying the rotisserie chickens from superstore. We will pick off whatever bits we want for dinner that night and I shred the rest up and add a little bbq sauce and Worcestershire sauce and make chicken sandwich for supper the next day with some ranch greek yogurt and spinach on a multi grain bun. So good!!!!

I try to keep pasta to a minimum, but sometimes spaghetti is just so easy and good!!

Using a scale for as much as possible has really made me realize how out of whack my eyeballing skills were! lol. I use MyNetDiary to log my weight, food and exercise. I have all my usual stuff marked as favorites and it takes seconds to enter, and I often will log the night before, or sometimes while I am at work, bored at my desk ;)

I like to pre-portion snack bags with almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds, and keep them in the freezer. (bout 200 cals per bag!) Apples are one of my favorite snacks too. I generally buy a big bag that will last a couple weeks. I keep a couple in my mini fridge at work along with a snack bag or two :)

This is what has been working for me so far!!

04-01-2013, 11:26 PM
I haven't calorie counted in a while, but when I did I wasn't very specific with it. Pretty much I had a set amount for the day and just ate whatever. I even ate a little extra if I happened to burn a bunch of calories that day. It was working too! Guess I should have stuck with it lol. I might just go back to calorie counting. I'm starting to get more serious about my meals. I'm even trying to plan them, well dinners at least. Good topic!:carrot:

04-01-2013, 11:44 PM
When I track my food (I am, currently) I tend to plan my next day the night before. Then I adjust as the day goes, if I change my mind on something, or have a different amount than I planned. I'm single, and don't really do meals. I just plan food. And then eat it. And often I'll eat the same one thing for a few days in a row because I want/need to finish it up.

04-02-2013, 04:52 PM
I plan my food the night before and adjust my journal through the day. I have entirely too many frozen portions of whatever that work if I change my mind too. Usually my calories for breakfasts, lunch, dinner, and snacks stay consistent in their allocations.

Lunch is always 1 cup of some kind of homemade soup that I pull out of my freezer, for example, and my homemade frozen dinners are around 250-350 calories, but they're all so different. The dinners are there when I'm lazy, but lately I've been cooking so much that I've had to give away food because I don't have enough room!

04-03-2013, 12:56 AM
I have a calorie goal and keep track with the My Fitness Pal app. I limit junk foods and use portion control.

One thing I do differently is not count the calories of plain fruit and vegetables, for examble, baby carrots. I do count a potato or canned pineapple (packed in plain juice.) I use alternatives sometimes to deal with sugar cravings, ie: celestial seasonings cinnamon apple "tea" has no calories but tastes yummy.

04-04-2013, 11:16 PM
I'm just starting out again (for like the millionth time) but what's worked best in the past and so far this time is planning out all my meals a week in advance and plugging it in to myfitnesspal, if anything changes I can easily edit it. This also makes grocery shopping easier.