Calories are the problem child of weight gain – you can’t do without them but they could very well be the end of you. For those who don’t already know, a calorie is the unit measurement of energy in a meal.
People count calories because they are the most vital factor in how much weight you gain or lose. If you take in more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight and vice versa. Counting calories is not even a new trend, it’s as old as the 20th century.
In an ideal world where you could count all calories accurately, there would be nothing wrong with it. However, outside of a laboratory, there is no way to accurately count calories.
Lisa R. Young, PhD, RD, an American weight loss expert carried out a study that showed stunning results. A team of 200 dietitians were shown different meals and asked to guess how many calories were contained in them. The result was that a lot of them grossly underreported the number of calories.
Now, if dietitians who dedicate themselves to the study of food can make mistakes, what’s the hope of the commoner? Well, there are several hacks that can help you identify the calories in your meals.
1. Cook Most Of Your Meals
Controlling how many calories are in your meals is difficult when you don’t control how the meal is made. This is why weight-loss experts always advise people to home cook most of their meals. Swapping certain ingredients like butter and cheese for reduced-fat spread can significantly reduce the calories in your meal. With home cooking, you can also ensure your cooked food is healthier.
2. Get a Kitchen Scale
One of the best things to invest in is the kitchen scale. Since most of your meals will be homecooked, you can always measure the food to have a precise reading of how many calories you’re taking in.
You don’t have to measure every time you eat though. Once you’ve measured a particular meal serving, you can just stick to it for future readings. However, if you are eating a new meal, it is always advisable to check the scales and make sure you’re not exceeding your calorie intake.
3. Always Check Food Labels:
Food labels often contain information on how many calories they contain. Once you’re aware of that, you can use it to estimate how many servings will make up your daily calorie intake.
4. Never estimate the portion size:
The truth is that people frequently underestimate how much food they have on a plate. If you’re eating out, there are chances you will not be able to check how many calories you have on a plate. That’s why we encourage home cooking for most people. If, however, your busy schedule stops you from cooking a lot, you can play safe by only eating small servings when you go out.
Even while eating in, there are food items that are easy to underestimate, like cereal. Make sure to always measure the servings. If you just pour them in a plate, you will likely overshoot your calorie goals
5. Write Everything Down
Keeping track of all your calorie intakes during the day is imperative if you are to stay on track with your goals. Trying to remember everything off-hand is a sure way to fail, as you can only remember so much.
Thankfully, there are multiple ways to keep track of your calorie consumption outside a pen and notebook. If you’re in front of a computer most times during the day, getting an online tool will be best. If you are always on the move, you can get a mobile app.
The bottom line with calorie counting in wieght-loss is this: consume less than you expend. So, regardless of what you’re eating, and what your calorie limit for the day is, if you’re not working off more than you’re taking in, you’ll be gaining weight, not losing it.