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Calorie Counting for Beginners: 5 Tips

May 3, 2010

Calorie counting can be tedious and frustrating especially at first, but there are ways to make it an easier task. Calorie counting is important when trying to stick with a weight loss program that requires you to eat a certain number of calories per day. Below are some tips to help you begin counting calories, especially if you don’t have much experience doing it.

1. Read Your Food Labels

Food labels will tell you exactly how many calories, carbohydrate, protein and fat are in the foods you’re eating. The trick is to first look at the portion size on the top of the food label to know how much of the food contains the calories listed. Also keep track of how many portions you’re eating. For example if a portion size is one slice of bread and you eat a sandwich made of two slices, you’ll have to double the calories listed on the label.

2. Keep A Food Diary

Keeping a food diary is essential if you are going to be strict about calorie counting. Writing down the foods you eat each day also helps to control what you’re eating; people who keep food diaries typically eat less than they do when they’re not recording what they eat. When you start keeping a food diary, remember to include the type of food (be specific), the number of portions you ate, and the number of calories in each portion size from the food label. If you’re eating out or don’t have a food label available to look at, you can always look up the calorie content Online using nutrition software or a calorie counting Website, such as FitDay.com.

3. Know Your Portion Sizes

Knowing your portion sizes is also essential when calorie counting. Each food label will tell you what constitutes a serving size (1/2 cup, 15 crackers, 1 oz. etc.).  Keep in mind that a portion size on a food label may differ from food guide pyramid portion sizes, so always be as specific as possible when recording food and pay close attention to food labels.

4. Memorize Calories for Common Foods You Eat

If you commonly eat 2 eggs for breakfast with 1 cup of juice, two slices of toast, and 2 Tbs. of butter, it’ll be easy for you to remember how many calories are in those foods without having to look at the food label each time. As you start to memorize the number of calories in your favorite foods, calorie counting will get easier and start to take less time.

5. Use a Calorie Counting Software or Website

There are many nutrition software programs and calorie counting Websites that will calculate your daily calorie intake for you. Just be sure to have your food diary ready so you can input each food and portion size you’d like to have calculated. Using a software program or Website will still take some time, but is helpful when you don’t have a food label available. And sometimes it's quicker than trying to count your own calories especially when you first begin doing it.

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