Calorie Counters - Starting to count calories this week




EllyM
05-25-2014, 12:06 PM
I've only started dieting, seriously, about a week ago. I set up a mini goal for last week, and stuck to all of it. I'm feeling like a million dollars, not just because I was able to give up on some of the things I know are unhealthy for me, but because I actually stuck through with it, even when I really didn't want to (even took the dog for a walk in the rain because I knew I wouldn't get my walk in that day if I didn't)

This week starts the hard work. I'm going to add a little more exercise in this week, and TRY to start counting calories (I honestly have never even paid attention to calories before). This is going to be a challenge to keep track of. I've stopped going out to eat, so much, and have started to cook for myself, but I feel like that's even harder to keep track of the calories. At least if I go out I can look up online how many calories are in a dish on the menu. As for cooking at home; how am I going to figure out how many calories are in a homemade pasta sauce, or a pot of soup?


atmos
05-25-2014, 12:15 PM
It's definitely a pain at first, but it gets easier! You start becoming very aware of portion sizes and you'll start accumulating a database of calories in various foods you use often, but the initial looking up everything can be a pain at first. So, your first week will probably be a lot of work looking up the calories in all the ingredients of your home cooking, but the second week you'll have those initial look ups to refer back to, so it's a bit easier.

If you'd like to use a calorie counting website/app, I recommend MyFitnessPal. I tend to eat a lot of the same thing (my fruit is always strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, and I tend to eat the same 5-6 vegetables through the week and 2 types of meat), so it's easy for me to choose the calorie entry from previous entries. It also has a recipe feature where you can enter the ingredients for a meal you make often and can then start referring to that meal rather than the individual ingredients.

When I first started counting calories I used pen and paper though, and that worked just fine too!

I would also recommend you consider investing in a food scale. Measuring non-liquids using tablespoons and cups is not as accurate as following the weight of the food. For example, if a serving size of oatmeal is half a cup, or 40 grams, if you weigh out 40 grams it's typically less than if you had measured with a half cup. It'll also give you a good education on portion sizes, rather than trying to eyeball how big 3 oz of meat is.

itsmejessica
05-25-2014, 01:49 PM
I love my fitness pal, it makes things easy.
I will recommend that you don't go to low in how many calories you allow yourself. I have just started back to counting calories and in the past I have gone to low and I was starving, so it was easy to give up. Try to eat good healthy food and don't let your self get totally crazed with hunger.
Good luck.


underanalysis
05-25-2014, 01:54 PM
MyFitnessPal is good, and I like The Daily Plate on Livestrong personally. Seconding what atmos said on weighing and measuring - I actually own 2 full sets of measuring cups and spoons as well as a food scale so I can always measure my portions if I need to.

Having two sets was important at first because I was measuring everything and so my cups were always dirty. Now I have a lot of tupperware containers where I know the volume and know that, for example, if I fill one halfway with strawberries and halfway with yogurt, its 4 oz of fruit and 4 oz of yogurt.

PinkPowerRanger71
05-25-2014, 02:48 PM
Ooh I didn't know about the recipe feature on mfp...I need that!!

souvenirdarling
05-25-2014, 09:25 PM
I'm just starting to calorie count to. The only time I had *real* success with weight loss was when I was counting. Boy, was it a pain. But now smartphones exist...

Jessica has great advice :)

atmos
05-26-2014, 12:28 PM
I will recommend that you don't go to low in how many calories you allow yourself. I have just started back to counting calories and in the past I have gone to low and I was starving, so it was easy to give up.

I'll second this. It's a very important point! It's important that this be sustainable and works in your daily life. You might lose weight slower, but you're more likely to (a) stick with it and (b) keep off the weight you lose.

My first go around with calorie counting I tried to stay in the 1000-1200 calorie range every day. I dropped weight fairly quickly, but I put all that weight back on again. Then lost it. Then put it back on.

This go around I'm trying to stick between 1520 and 1900 (I'm short with not much left to lose). The weight loss is going very slowly, but my hope is that I won't put it back on once again.

Novus
05-26-2014, 12:49 PM
I use sparkpeople.com to log my food. They have a recipe calculator (http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/)and I use that a lot because I make pretty much everything from scratch and I love to try new recipes.

EllyM
05-26-2014, 01:37 PM
Thanks so much everyone for the advise. It's going to be rough at first, but I think counting calories is really the way to go. I purchased a small food scale today on Amazon, and I've downloaded the Arise app to my phone to keep everything in check. I've also started looking up the calories in all of the foods I normally eat so I can start trying to figure out how many calories are in my meals. Gonna be a long week.

PinkPowerRanger71
05-26-2014, 02:10 PM
EllyM I've found I actually like weighing and measuring food and adding up the calories :) But I'm weird like that.

VermontMom
05-26-2014, 02:57 PM
congrats! I like how you conquered the first mini goal the first week, and 'felt like a million dollars' achieving it! and that gave you confidence to move on! :carrot: And congrats on getting the scale!

For when you are going to make a homemade sauce or soup or chili, it will take a little effort the first time, but then follow your exact recipe each time and you'll know..you'll need to assemble all your ingredients, look up the total calories in everything (not just the 'serving size' but the whole can/container/item) and record those numbers..then cook your sauce/soup; then you will need to portion it out completely til it's all gone. Count how many servings you got; then divide the total calories number by the portion number. Did that make sense? :dizzy: :)

EllyM
05-27-2014, 11:36 AM
Yea cupcake, that makes sense, but what a pain in the rear. Oh well.

So I'm a big fan of cooking everything for the week in one day. That way I don't have to worry about what I'm going to eat at night when I get home. I'm guessing instead of putting everything in big tuperware containers I can portion them out into single portion containers, and then write the calories of the meal on the container.

Maybe I should invite pinkpowerranger over on cooking day and let her handle all of the counting ;-)

Munchy
05-27-2014, 12:58 PM
EllyM, that's what I do. I make an entire meal and portion it into small containers to freeze. It makes calorie counting very, very easy because once you add the calories for your ingredients and portion it out, you can label each one with the calorie count depending on how many portions you get.

Another option is to look for recipes that already have calorie counts so you can just divide into the number of portions recommended.
www.skinnytaste.com, www.cookinglight.com, www.eatingwell.com, www.slenderkitchen.com, www.skinnymom.com

VermontMom
05-27-2014, 01:40 PM
Yea cupcake, that makes sense, but what a pain in the rear. Oh well.

So I'm a big fan of cooking everything for the week in one day. That way I don't have to worry about what I'm going to eat at night when I get home. I'm guessing instead of putting everything in big tuperware containers I can portion them out into single portion containers, and then write the calories of the meal on the container.

Maybe I should invite pinkpowerranger over on cooking day and let her handle all of the counting ;-)

LOL, the pain in the rear will = a smaller rear ;) :D

I will also check out the links Munchy provided for already calorie-counted meals.

The fact that you want to cook everything for the week in one day is awesome!! I found relatively inexpensive small containers/lids at our local dollar store. A small investment.

PinkPowerRanger71
05-28-2014, 04:45 AM
Yea cupcake, that makes sense, but what a pain in the rear. Oh well.

So I'm a big fan of cooking everything for the week in one day. That way I don't have to worry about what I'm going to eat at night when I get home. I'm guessing instead of putting everything in big tuperware containers I can portion them out into single portion containers, and then write the calories of the meal on the container.

Maybe I should invite pinkpowerranger over on cooking day and let her handle all of the counting ;-)

Hehe gladly-I pretend I'm doing science experiments :D

Pattience
05-28-2014, 05:27 AM
I think calorie counting is a very useful strategy to work with for a while. You don't need to feel stuck with it forever though. I have done many diets successfully without it simply by eating better quality food.

I have found keeping a food log listing quantities and all ingredients to be the most vital thing.

Re counting calories i think its well worthwhile learning about the general calorie values of different types of foods, not so much the difference between a banana and an apple but between a piece of cheese on toast and a bowl of steamed vegetables.

Once you get a sense of the calorie values of most foods you can stop being so focussed on every calorie. Your food log which is less time consuming will be easy enough to tweak.

That said this time i tailored my daily intake to a rough idea of calories and found it useful to pick the amount of food i would eat based on a total daily calorie intake.

I totally agree with the others who say not to reduce your calories to much. It will indeed cause you to fail in the long run. Losing weight more slowly is going to serve you better on several levels in the long run.

Depending on how much you have to lose, you can start off losing a fair bit but accept it should be more slow after maybe 3 months. The thing is after you've lost about 10% of body fat, your body might rebel so then its a very good idea to pause in your diet and even increase you calorie intake a bit if you have been religiously sticking to a reduced calorie intake.

There is scientific support for this idea in fact that's where i got the idea from. I have factored it into what i'm doing and so far i've been doing it successfully for almost 5 months with no disasters. No binges and no regrets.

I also second the idea of using scales, measuring cups and spoons for everything.

Its also useful to load up your recipes into my fitness pal and use the repeat meal thing too.

What i find tedious on my fitness pal is that many items are not measured in the same way i would do them so i have tended to make approximate guesses with some items. Its not exact but approximate works too. I mean for example, i might prefer to use a tbsp measurement while the item on the program uses a grams measurement and i don't have a kitchen scale that accurately measures grams.

To make your diet successfully in the long term, try to incorporate more whole foods and less processed foods into your life. They are more sustaining and nutritious. You will be less hungry if you eat whole foods.

EllyM
05-28-2014, 11:05 AM
OK. i did it. Went to the container store and bought a bunch of little containers. I made a whole pot of chili, and calculated all of the calories. Now I have a bunch of frozen chili to eat whenever I want with the calorie count right on the container. I just punch that number into my sweet little app, and it takes care of the rest.

Next meal, lentil soup

Munchy
05-28-2014, 11:47 AM
OK. i did it. Went to the container store and bought a bunch of little containers. I made a whole pot of chili, and calculated all of the calories. Now I have a bunch of frozen chili to eat whenever I want with the calorie count right on the container. I just punch that number into my sweet little app, and it takes care of the rest.

Next meal, lentil soup

Awesome, right?! Other things that freeze very well include burritos, meatballs, stuffed peppers (flash freeze any of these on a cookie sheet before transferring to a freezer bag), and almost anything you can bake in a muffin pan.

I love that I can go into my freezer right now and pull out one of about 15 different meals for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. :)

Bunny924
05-28-2014, 11:51 AM
I always like to cook up and portion my sides into small containers to use throughout the week. Things like boxed potatoes and rice-a-roni I cook up without using the butter...it saves so much on calories and you don't even notice it missing...I'll spray the vermicelli and rice in the rice-a-roni with butter flavored spray to fry it. For days I am having an intense craving for potatoes, I'll have a 200-300 calorie portion of julienne or scalloped potatoes for lunch to satisfy it. You buy enough of those small plastic containers and you can make any calorie portion you want of any food. The portions can be rather small at times, but sometimes you just have to a certain something and a few bites of it are better than none at all!;)

Munchy
05-28-2014, 12:23 PM
I always like to cook up and portion my sides into small containers to use throughout the week. Things like boxed potatoes and rice-a-roni I cook up without using the butter...it saves so much on calories and you don't even notice it missing...I'll spray the vermicelli and rice in the rice-a-roni with butter flavored spray to fry it. For days I am having an intense craving for potatoes, I'll have a 200-300 calorie portion of julienne or scalloped potatoes for lunch to satisfy it. You buy enough of those small plastic containers and you can make any calorie portion you want of any food. The portions can be rather small at times, but sometimes you just have to a certain something and a few bites of it are better than none at all!;)

If you make your scalloped potatoes 50:50 with rutabaga or turnip, you probably wouldn't even notice it, but you'd get a bigger portion for the same number of calories.

itsmejessica
05-28-2014, 12:23 PM
OK. i did it. Went to the container store and bought a bunch of little containers. I made a whole pot of chili, and calculated all of the calories. Now I have a bunch of frozen chili to eat whenever I want with the calorie count right on the container. I just punch that number into my sweet little app, and it takes care of the rest.

Next meal, lentil soup

Good going. :carrot:
I love lentil soup!
This a great idea. I have been doing this too. And it really helps. I do it a lot with my oatmeal.

Bunny924
05-28-2014, 12:44 PM
If you make your scalloped potatoes 50:50 with rutabaga or turnip, you probably wouldn't even notice it, but you'd get a bigger portion for the same number of calories.

Good idea for others...Unfortunately I don't like either of them:(

Bunny924
05-28-2014, 12:53 PM
Also, for those times you don't have the chance or desire to cook, Healthy Choice Café Steamers have some excellent options for a fast and calorie friendly lunch or dinner. They have a Beef Merlot that is 220 calories and is very tasty and I love all of their Asian chicken varieties. My husband even enjoys them and he hates diet food.

Munchy
05-28-2014, 01:14 PM
Good idea for others...Unfortunately I don't like either of them:(

:( Aww - how about cauliflower? It's always a good mix with potatoes.

Bunny924
05-28-2014, 01:22 PM
:( Aww - how about cauliflower? It's always a good mix with potatoes.

Unfortunately, the only veggie I really like is broccoli and I didn't care for it mixed with the potatoes...I did try it. I have learned to eat my veggies with my lunch and dinner for the stomach filling factor they provide. I just eat them all first, so that I can enjoy the rest of my meal!;)

tinamariefitforme
05-28-2014, 06:40 PM
It's definitely a pain at first, but it gets easier! You start becoming very aware of portion sizes and you'll start accumulating a database of calories in various foods you use often, but the initial looking up everything can be a pain at first. So, your first week will probably be a lot of work looking up the calories in all the ingredients of your home cooking, but the second week you'll have those initial look ups to refer back to, so it's a bit easier.

If you'd like to use a calorie counting website/app, I recommend MyFitnessPal. I tend to eat a lot of the same thing (my fruit is always strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, and I tend to eat the same 5-6 vegetables through the week and 2 types of meat), so it's easy for me to choose the calorie entry from previous entries. It also has a recipe feature where you can enter the ingredients for a meal you make often and can then start referring to that meal rather than the individual ingredients.

When I first started counting calories I used pen and paper though, and that worked just fine too!

I would also recommend you consider investing in a food scale. Measuring non-liquids using tablespoons and cups is not as accurate as following the weight of the food. For example, if a serving size of oatmeal is half a cup, or 40 grams, if you weigh out 40 grams it's typically less than if you had measured with a half cup. It'll also give you a good education on portion sizes, rather than trying to eyeball how big 3 oz of meat is.


I am sorry if this is a rather dumb question but how do you find out how many portions of meats/veges/fruits etc. you should eat for weight loss?:?:

tinamariefitforme
05-28-2014, 06:41 PM
Unfortunately, the only veggie I really like is broccoli and I didn't care for it mixed with the potatoes...I did try it. I have learned to eat my veggies with my lunch and dinner for the stomach filling factor they provide. I just eat them all first, so that I can enjoy the rest of my meal!;)


I do the same! I eat the veges first and wait to eat the good stuff last :D haha

Pattience
05-28-2014, 06:47 PM
you need to know how many calories are in a portion. If you've got your daily total, you can easily work it out.

Sassyinkpen
05-29-2014, 11:07 AM
Yea cupcake, that makes sense, but what a pain in the rear. Oh well.




I saw your later posts, so I know you may already be starting to see this, but....

What is a pain in the rear on the front end, often ends being really convenient on the back end. Meals all set to just grab and eat, calories counted and everything. (I'm just getting the hang of this myself)

I got two full lunches out of last night's dinner leftovers, and they are in there just waiting to me! Easy rest of MY lunch week.

Sassyinkpen
05-29-2014, 11:10 AM
If you make your scalloped potatoes 50:50 with rutabaga or turnip, you probably wouldn't even notice it, but you'd get a bigger portion for the same number of calories.

I always add several diced turnips to my chili. They end with the same texture as the beans and soak up the flavor of the tomato sauce. I figure it adds some veggie boost.

Munchy
05-29-2014, 11:25 AM
I am sorry if this is a rather dumb question but how do you find out how many portions of meats/veges/fruits etc. you should eat for weight loss?:?:

At the very beginning of my journals I started with a "regular" person portion (although I don't know what really is "regular"): 2oz of dry pasta, 1/2 cup of cooked rice, 5oz potato, meat around 4oz, and fill up the other half of my plate with non-starchy vegetables.

I limit myself to one serving of fruit and limit my starchy foods, but that's just because it affects my hunger and makes me want to eat more if I have too much.

The easiest thing for me is to make a plan ahead of time and follow it. I did this by just writing down

BREAKFAST:
SNACK:
LUNCH:
SNACK:
DINNER:
SNACK:
Total:

You can always tweak as you go if you find yourself hungrier in the morning and maybe not needing an additional snack, etc.

EllyM
05-29-2014, 12:24 PM
Potatoes are my downfall too. Any excuse I can use to get some I do. I've got to cut that out. Someone had mentioned adding cauliflower to the potatoes. I can assure you, you can hardly tell they're in there. I boiled them together with the potatoes and mashed them together (with some low-cal chicken broth instead of milk) and they were great. Just like mashed potatoes, yet way lower in calories.

cherryboberry
05-29-2014, 04:24 PM
I count calories on myfitnesspal.com, but I also write them down in a notebook. I feel like committing them to paper has some special sense of accomplishment for me. In that same journal I write down how I felt about the day - if I was hungry, tempted to cheat, craving something... I just like to look back on each day on paper. It has a nice feeling to it.

Regarding calorie counting: It's really easy for me to slip up on that. So what I do is eat all pre-packaged food, which I know, ain't great. But I'm just starting out again and it's so hard for me mentally. I'm going through a psychological detox so I take the guess work and temptation out of it and just eat three frozen dinners a day (even for breakfast), one pudding or yogurt, and one packaged 100 calorie snack. This is the diet they actually use at an eating disorder clinic that the rehab I work for partners with. I'll do it until I know I can allow myself more freedom and discretion over my food choices. Right now, I just can't.