4 Steps to Counting Calories...Because Calories Count Whether You Do or Not

How do calories work and why are they so important? Calories are misunderstood. We know they affect our weight, but we don't quite get how. Some remarks I've heard about calories include-- Do drinks count?-- I know to lose weight I need to eat under 1200 calories.-- If I exercise it affects the amount of calories I can eat?. My personal favorite- "I can eat whatever I want because I exercised today!"
 If only... 

I told you I had an affinity for peanut butter and ice cream!
Actually frozen, blended bananas--but a great alternative
 Photo courtesy of Meghan Kidwell

The truth is calories are units of energy. Your body needs energy to function throughout the day. Without calories (foods and drinks) we would be tired, sluggish, cranky, and die if we went too long.  Each individual has a specific calorie need depending on their weight, height, age, gender, and activity level. Find your calorie need and track it. Calories count whether you count them or not...So...

Fit Foundation #2- Count Your Calories

Step 1. Find your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)Don't like math - click here
  • Women: 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age)
  • Men: 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age)
This is your basal metabolic rate. BMR is how many calories your body needs to do nothing but sit all day long. Pretend your BMR is 1500 calories a day. Your body needs those 1500 calories to operate your daily bodily functions (breathing, digestion, etc.). When you are active you raise your caloric need. Let's say you exercised and burned 200 calories. Using those same 1500 calories, your caloric need is now 1700 calories for that day. Count calories is like balancing a checkbook. To maintain weight you want each day to balance at ZERO.

Step 2. Tracking Calories
Tracking Daily Calories

Each day's BMR is the same and your calories start at zero.  You add your calories from food you eat and subtract calories burned during exercise. (See picture above) Those additions and subtractions should equal your BMR at the end of the day. Perfect! Balanced means you maintain your weight.

Step 3: Losing Weight

Now that you know how to track your calories let's talk about losing weight. How do you lose weight? Simple. You need to eat less calories than you require. If your BMR is 1500 and you burn an extra 200 your calorie requirement is... 1700 calories. If you eat less than 1700 calories you WILL lose weight.  The greater the deficit the faster you lose weight. I only recommend up to a 500 calorie deficit/day. That is 4.5 pounds a month, and  50 pounds a year! ***See note at bottom of page***

Step 4: Sustain Success

Write it down! When you write it down you are physically, mentally, and emotionally accountable. It hurts to write 3500 calories after devouring a pizza. Typing it into an app can work, but you need to actually do it, every day. "Counting" in your head just doesn't cut it. Find your BMR. Write down your calories eaten and burned each day. Watch your progress. Reach your goals!

What do you want to know to find your fit?
Tell me in the comment section or e-mail me to see it in a future blog.

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***I DO NOT recommend greater than a 500 calorie deficit/day without first consulting with a physician. This great of a deficit will cause your metabolism to slow down, can inhibit weight loss, and cause fat retention because your body physiologically changes and enters starvation mode.***

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