Calorie Counters - Advice for Starting Out
12-23-2013, 04:52 PM
Starting in January, I'm going to get serious about dropping that 15 pounds I've been struggling with over the past couple years. I'm going to use calorie counting, combined with a more rigorous exercise program and choosing primarily whole, plant-based foods.
What is your advice for starting out? I'd like to start out on the best foot I can, especially since I have more than a week to prep. Should I be planning out my meals for the first week? How do I choose the best calorie level for me? What else should I be thinking about?
12-24-2013, 12:28 AM
Congrats on getting started. I love calorie counting because I don't feel like I'm on a diet, I don't have any food that is off limits which is nice. It's all about eating in moderation and learning proper portion sizes.
With only 15 pounds to go my biggest advice to you is to be patient. I've read numerous times that it's healthiest for people with less than 20 pounds to do it at a pace of between 0.5-1.0 pound a week. Any faster and you could start messing up your metabolism/lose more muscle mass than fat. I'm currently losing about 0.5 pounds a week, I've got about 10-15 pounds to go, and I like it because I never feel deprived yet my number keeps dropping, even if it's slow.
I personally plan out my food but that's mainly my personality type. I like a plan for everything. I also find it really easy to follow though my breakfasts, dinners and snacks are usually identical. However when I first started losing weight I didn't plan it out, I just used an online calorie counter (myfitnesspal) and stopped eating when I got to my limit. After awhile I realized I needed to plan a bit better so I could have an after dinner snack.
To figure out what calorie level you should be at, I'd recommend this website:
It will probably give you an amount higher than you think but it's never failed me and it was recommended to me on MFP. As I said I lose .5 pound a week and don't exercise, eating just less than 1600 calories a day. When I was quite larger, 40+ pounds ago, I ate around 1650 a day and lost 1.5 pounds/week on average.
12-26-2013, 05:07 PM
Thanks! That's very hepful.
When I started counting calories, I eventually began adding the times I was eating as well. This helped me go back and see whether the hunger between meals was legit, or perhaps chemical tricks at play making me feel cravings when I wasn't actually hungry.
Feeling hungry 2 hours after a large calorie (500+) meal is likely just a craving than real hunger! This can also help you see what's causing those feelings, and which foods are keeping you fuller, longer.
12-30-2013, 02:50 PM
That's a great tip. One of my goals is to get to a place where I'm eating primarily because I'm physically hungry, and stopping when I'm comfortably full. Right now, I eat a lot of time out of boredom or other reasons. Thanks!
01-05-2014, 10:40 AM
Hi, we have about the same goal apparently. I'm 147 and 5'4" and looking to blast off the last 15ish. I already came to the same conclusion I really have to rev up the exercise.
What I have been doing is definitely been prepping my own meals. Eating every couple of hours, meals and light snacks. I've been trying to actually add high quality protein to build muscle to burn more calories throughout the day. I have an active job so I've been able to lose on a higher calorie per day ( about 1900 ) that's translated to about 1.25 loss per week so far but I've been thinking of decreasing my calories to 1750 and adding 150 burned in exercise to burn an extra 300. Still working out the details. All I know is within the next couple of months I want to burn off that lower stomach fat that's holding on for dear life. Hope that helps a bit.
01-05-2014, 02:12 PM
I have always had a self image problem (go figure) because even back when I was a healthy 210 lbs (I'm tall and muscular) I was on and off calorie counting (to try to lose not maintain). What I wouldn't give to be back there now!
Bottom line it was such a pain in the butt.... I had paperbacks with dictionary like lists of foods and calories/nutrition, tried going by labels.... Carried a journal... It never stuck because of the inconvenience.
I think it will be different this time because of how astoundingly easy it is... I'm sure there are lots of apps, I have an iPhone and after a night of net-research settled on myfitnesspal and wow.... So freaking easy! And helpful mini-tools like daily predictions of where you'll be in 5 weeks if "you ate every day like today" and the ability to add friends (I added a bunch from this site) to help encourage you... And it's actually free (not just a starter version)... There are others!
So my advice based on past experience... Find a tool that makes it really EASY for you to stay with it. Depending on what electronic devices you use and what style of program you like, assuming you will be using something electronic. I like the idea of calorie counting for reasons others have listed, and because it is a straightforward approach, and keeping the process easy will be essential to my success as well.
Day 5 on this journey, I am enjoying the process so far :)
01-06-2014, 10:21 AM
Like changergirl, I plan my meals and I also like to pre-cook meals so that they're easy to grab. For example, making one tray of veggie crustless mini-quiche on the weekend can provide me with a week's worth of breakfasts. One pot of soup can provide me with a week's worth of lunch. Making one stew can provide me with a week's worth of dinners.
Because I don't like to eat the same exact thing every day, on weekends, I cook anywhere from 3-12 different dishes, portion them, and freeze them. Then I can just grab any dish for my meals and know that they already fit into my plan. The food lasts for months, so I don't need to worry about leftovers going to waste.
If you start with one dish - chili is an easy one - then portion it and freeze it, you'll be able to pull one out on a day when you don't want to cook. Voila, healthy dinner in 3 minutes.
Cooking this way has saved me time, money, and makes my life so much easier.
01-06-2014, 01:14 PM
I'm with all the other folks advising finding some healthy one-dish recipes. What's easiest for me, not just on health but also time, is making a big dish on Sunday, and then that's guaranteed one meal taken care of for every day that week, lunch or dinner.
Other than that, I have a lot of flexibility. I try to keep things cheap so I go to the store and buy whatever fresh fruit and veggies I can under a certain price point, and just make up snacks and other meals out of that stuff. Mostly I don't eat breakfast, but when I do I usually stick to eggs, oatmeal, raisin bran, or whole wheat toast.
Oatmeal is a great go-to for breakfast because you can change it up a lot. I've done it with:
dried cranberries and slivered almonds
raisins and cinnamon
peanut butter and honey
etc. So you're eating the same thing for breakfast a lot but it tastes very different.