If you were to guess: how many calories did you consume yesterday . . . would you know? For most of us the answer would be ‘I don’t know’. If you belong to this group then you may be missing a great opportunity to meet your weight loss goals.
By not knowing the calorie content of the foods you eat and the amounts you ate, you are setting yourself up for failure when trying to lose weight.
I am sure you have heard people saying ‘ I’ll just burn off the excess calories I eat because I work out’. You might even be guilty of saying this yourself. Well it doesn’t work that way because we don’t know how many calories we consume. We usually underestimate the number of calories we eat and overestimate the amount your work out burns off.
If you have set a weight loss goal and are having difficulty reaching it then part of the problem may be that you don’t know how to count the calories you eat.
Learn how to count the calories you eat
Reading labels – One of the most important ways to figure out the number of calories you consume is to become a label reader. All packaged foods must be labeled to indicate the total calories and their base ingredients. You can get a close approximation of the number of calories you eat each day just by knowing the calorie count of the foods you are eating . . . even when eating out.
I applaud those restaurants that are now including the calorie count on their menu selections. This goes a long way in helping us keep track of our daily caloric intake.
Food journal – The next best thing you can do is to keep a food log for a period of time – two to four weeks is long enough. Log all the foods and drinks you consume each day . . . including gum if you chew it. If you add sugar to your morning beverages list the amount. This gives you a basis for comparison and highlights all the foods that may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Nutritionist – If you can afford to get the services of a good nutritionist or dietitian you will be ahead of the game. They are worth their weight in gold because they can establish a meal plan for you to follow that’s geared for your body-type and lifestyle. Go online and located one in your neighborhood.
MyFitnesspal is a great tool to use for calculating the number of calories you are consuming each day. It’s a smartphone app and website that tracks your diet and exercise to determine whether you are meeting your caloric intake and nutrient goals.
How many calories does your workout burn off?
Now let’s see if we can figure out the number of calories your exercise burns up with each session.
Many of the cardio equipment we use in health facilities are calibrated to measure the number of calories burned during a certain time period. Some may be close to accurate while most are completely off-base.
But what about the number of calories you use up doing exercises that are not measured by some electronic device – such as bench presses for twenty minutes or doing martial arts for an hour?
Here is an easy chart you can use to calculate your calorie expenditure while doing various activities. It’s called a MET chart and lists the met value for a number of exercises. Use it to calculate the energy used the next time you exercise.
[A MET value is a number established by exercise experts that measures the energy output, or calories an individual use while at rest. It lists multiples of this number for many activities. It is expressed as 3.5 milliliter of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute.
It can also be defined as burning one calorie per every 2.2 pounds of body weight per hour.
So, a person at rest burns 1 met and a person running at a moderate speed would burn 10 mets. The higher the value the more oxygen you are using and the more calories you are burning off.
P.S. As a virtual personal trainer I would love to help you meet your weight loss goals. I have written a training manual that lays out a step by step program to help you get started. Get more information here.