Let’s start off by not calling it a diet at all. Instead let’s call it a lifestyle change. To get in shape and stay fit requires being conscious of what you’re putting in your mouth. The word “diet” is typically associated with a fad and being something that you do temporarily to attempt to slim down quickly. As most people know, “diets” don’t work. In fact, the dictionary definition of diet is: ‘the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats’. This is the definition that I prefer to use.
How can I be more conscious of what I eat?
Calories! You must have a good idea of how many calories you are eating per day. Whenever you have a drink of juice, soda, or alcohol, do you know how many unnecessary calories you’re consuming? In many cases it’s like drinking sugar water! Don’t get me wrong, I love soda and I like to enjoy a few beers once in awhile. The key here is being conscious while consuming. I know for example that a light 12 oz beer is roughly 100 calories while a regular 12 oz beer is roughly 160 calories. By saving a couple hundred calories I can enjoy two more beers for the same amount of calories.
How to diet tracking calories
First you must learn to read labels, sounds fun right? It’s almost effortless so you’ll be fine. Let’s take a quick look at this nutrition label.
You can see here that there are 200 calories per serving. The serving size is 12 grams, but chances are you won’t know how much that is unless you use a food scale, which I totally recommend you have (I use a food scale to weigh things like cereal, meat, and vegetables). If you happen to be on the go, nutrition labels give you other clues to know how many calories you’re consuming. This label says that the package contains two servings. So, if you consume the whole thing you get 400 calories, not 200. Easy! People still get fooled, I don’t blame them though. Who eats only half a bag of 50 cent chips!? The best way to track your calories is using a free app like My Fitness Pal or the one I use, Lose it. Sometimes what you eat doesn’t come with a nutrition label, a calorie tracking app like Lose it has an extensive database making labels unnecessary.
How many calories should I eat?
Click here to calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) on my calorie calculator.
- Under ‘Calculate’ click on ‘BMR’
- Choose appropriate gender
- Click on ‘Imperial’ under ‘Metric system’
- Proceed to fill in the fields.
- Click ‘Calculate’ then read your BMR
BMR calculators tell you how many calories your body burns, hence how many calories you need to consume to maintain that weight. Another option is if you download an app like Lose it you find out how many calories you need after entering some data. All the app will need to know is your age, height, gender, activity level, and weight. Based on that info there are calculations made then it determines your maintenance calories (the amount of calories you need to maintain your current weight). It’s understood that 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat. So if you decided that you want to lose one pound per week, simply eat 500 calories less than your maintenance calories calls for each day. This generally works very well. When you add exercise into the mix your caloric needs change according to your energy output.
Do I need a fitness app?
No, but it is highly recommended. The value of a fitness app like Lose it is that it doesn’t just tell you how many calories you need to eat, it also let’s you plug in your workouts and tracks your calories for the week. If you want to know how well you’re doing, just look at your app. It lets you know if you’re on track and allows you to look back at your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly progress.
In conclusion, these are the tips that I recommend:
- Read nutrition labels accurately.
- Download a free fitness app (My Fitness Pal or Lose it)
- Get a food scale as it allows you to accurately weigh your food servings, whether it’s cereal, meat, fruits or veggies (also get a measuring cup and measuring spoons, they’re super cheap!).
- Track your calories on the app. Plug in everything you eat and drink (that includes alcohol, added sugar, and condiments) and be conscious of what you’re consuming.
- Last but not least, it’s a good idea to get a digital body weight scale as well. Weigh yourself weekly to make sure that your caloric estimates are working for you.
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I am not a healthcare professional. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet or exercise program. This is for educational purposes only, I am speaking from my own experience and from what I have learned through my own research.
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