How to Lose Weight by Counting Calories

The ways in which one can go about losing weight proliferate each day. Some popular trends, especially for men, are the keto diet (high fat, adequate protein, low carb) and the meat only diet (which involves exactly what you would expect). The jury is out as to whether these diets produce lasting results, and whether such extremes are any good for your overall wellbeing. What is not in doubt, however, is that that the only way to sustain weight loss is to expend more energy (the unit of which is a calorie) than you put into your body through eating and drinking.

In order to reach this weight-losing imbalance in your body, you will have to pay attention to the calorie content of everything you eat and drink. You will also have to work out how much energy you expend each day: more sedentary lifestyles require less calories, and vice versa. It also should be noted that those who are more muscular burn more calories, even at rest. But roughly, an adult human male requires between 2000-3000 calories each day to maintain his current weight. So with this in mind, you should work out a personalised calorie limit that will result in a deficit of energy. Sticking to this deficit will make you lose weight.

But equally, you shouldn’t be eating purely salads or bowls of oatmeal everyday: you need macronutrients, which is basically a fancy word for things like protein, fibre and vitamins: the things that keep you healthy. We can’t tell you exactly how many calories you’ll need to limit yourself to in order to keep healthy as well as losing weight, but we’ve compiled some tips that will put you in the right calorie-counting mindset.

Invest in an app

Although it’s fairly easy to work out your calorie intake, the amount of energy you expend can be harder to keep track of. Getting an app like MyFitnessPal [] or SparkPeople [] can help out. The general idea is that you list what you have eaten and what kind of exercise you’ve done that day, and the app will show you how many calories you have left in your allotted limit. Be warned: to get the full benefits from apps like these, you usually have to pay for the ‘premium’ version of the app.

Keep and eye on drinks

Many people fail to count their calories accurately because they do not think about the drinks that they routinely enjoy. Whilst black coffee and black tea, along with water, have negligible calorific content, lots of other beverages do. Milky and sugary coffees — especially those from chain outlets — are some of the worst offenders, with some incurring up to 1000 calories per serving. If you don’t make your own hot drinks, its best to stick to simple and low-fat choices like a skinny cappechino or a black iced coffee. If you really want a more complex and calorific drink, do your research and make changes in other areas of your diet accordingly: research online, or ask your barista for more details.

Equally, it might be worth switching to diet versions of your favourite sodas. There’s absolutely no proper evidence to support the rumours suggesting that diet sodas cause insulin spikes and immediate weight gain, and they can be a really good way of ‘saving’ calories when you’re drinking or going to your favourite fast food outlet.

If you drink alcohol, it might be worth cutting down. Beer is notorious: its high gluten content means that a pint on average is around 200 calories per pint, and sparkling wines have high sugar contents. Spirits are by and large a better option, but be careful what you mix them with: as discussed above, a ‘diet’ version of your favourite mixer is a way to save. But reducing rather than changing up your alcohol intake is better for your health: it will make you less tired (thus more likely to expend calories on a treadmill or a brisk walk the following day) and less likely to ‘break’ your diet on a late night pizza.

Find some low-calorie protein sources you like.

Protein is a great way of keeping fuller for longer, as well as being an essential macronutrient for building up muscle mass (which will help you burn more calories). A great low-calorie protein sources is an egg: at around 70 calories per unit (excluding oils and milks that you might cook your egg with), they manage to still keep you feeling full for hours afterwards. Another good protein source is grilled chicken or seitan.

Plan ahead.

It might be worth spending a little bit of time planning what you are going to eat in advance. In particular, it’s worth cooking in batches: grilling a couple of chicken breasts on the weekend so you can eat it in salads and sandwiches during the week; making a big pot of lentil and cabbage soup to have with a slice of toast on a rainy midweek evening. Not only will this make your calorie intake more straightforward and help you avoid a Tuesday-night takeaway due to tiredness and anomie, but it will save you a great deal of time and effort during the week.

If cooking isn’t really your thing, it’s still a good idea to think about what you will be eating. You’ll need to check the labels of any pre-made food you buy, but planning in advance will keep you mindful of what you’re ingesting, and thus keep you in a calorie deficit.

Be aware of condiments.

It’s easy to forget the onion pickle or the ranch that accompanies our meals: condiments are a notorious form of ‘hidden’ calories. Mayonnaise has a high fat content, and things like tomato sauce and salsa are usually (especially when shop-bought) full of sugar. You have to factor the calorific content of things like these in, too. In fact, it’s worth thinking about swapping some of them out: coleslaw can be mixed with oil and vinegar instead of mayonnaise, and there are plenty of lower-calorie alternatives to things like BBQ sauce.

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