Let’s face it, the appearance of our bodies in general can cause us lots of stress and hard work, particularly when body fat percentages are involved. Calculating calorie consumption, however, is far easier said than done, so to help you, we’ve compiled a few handy tips.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Every single day, countless people struggle with their weight, usually because of the fact that they’re simply carrying too much of it and not anywhere near enough muscle. People think that losing fat and gaining muscle is all about looking good. Whilst that is indeed a handy bonus, in reality, losing fat and building muscle is all about maintaining optimal levels of health and fitness at any age.
Remember, different people have different goals, which means that some may want to burn fat, some may want to build muscle, whilst others may be happy to simply maintain their current fat and muscle levels as they currently are. Whatever your goals and objectives, calculating calorie consumption is the first step.
In order for us to lose weight, we need to create a calorie deficit, which means basically that we need to be consuming less calories than our bodies require. In order to gain muscle, we need to consume slightly more than is required for maintenance of our body weight alone.
Work out your daily requirements
Before you progress any further, the first thing you need to do is calculate your daily caloric requirements. This is the amount of calories that your body requires in order to maintain it in its current form.
The good news is that you can easily work this out by simply logging onto the internet and using a number of free and simple calorie consumption calculators. Here’s one from Mayo Clinic. These convertors obviously don’t know exactly how many you need because they don’t know your genetic makeup, but generally speaking, they’re able to provide a pretty good estimate.
The user begins by entering their height, their current weight, their age, their gender, and roughly how active they are on average. The calculator then simply spits out a number, telling them roughly how many calories they require per day to maintain their body weight.
Use calorie counting and tracking software
Thanks to the popularity of smart phones and smart devices, there are now more apps and pieces of software than ever before, all designed to help you to calculate, track, and monitor exactly how many calories you’re consuming each day.
Most of these apps allow you to not only enter the foods and drinks you’ve consumed manually, but also to scan barcodes, enter weights and quantities, and then be left with the exact number of calories found in each food and drink item. You can use these apps to set yourself a target caloric consumption for each day to maintain, lose weight, or even weight gain.
As you make each entry, the number of calories you’re allowed will be added to the list, whilst the app will tell you how many calories you have left until you reach your daily requirement. On top of that, you can also manually enter how much physical exercise you may have performed, and roughly how many calories you burnt off.
This software and apps are handy because they leave nothing to chance and allow you to enter absolutely everything you’ve consumed. The disadvantage is the fact that you have to manually log everything. That can get to be a hassle.
Read nutritional labels
Another method of ensuring that you track and monitor exactly how many calories you’re consuming each day is to do things the old-fashioned way, and to actually read the backs of nutritional labels to get the nutritional information.
The labels will clearly tell you exactly how many calories in total the food or drink contains, along with how many calories they contain per serving. So for example, if a certain food had 600 calories in total and you consumed exactly half of it, you would know for a fact that you had just consumed 300 calories.
Again, unless you have a great memory and are great with numbers, you will still need to make a note of how many calories you’ve consumed, but once you’re in the habit of reading labels and taking notes, it will come as second nature to you, meaning that you’ll soon be doing it without realising.
Letting wearables do the work for you
Wearable devices have become a popular way of tracking calories spent ever since someone invented the first calorie counter back in 1977. A number of recent studies have, however, called into question the accuracy of such devices.
The important question is – does this really matter? Well, if you are interested in a ballpark figure, then no. But inaccurate information about calories could actually derail many peoples’ progress.
Essential reading: Top smart scales
Fitness trackers and smartwatches work well for resting caloric burn and sedentary activities, but the more active we become typically the less accurate the resulting data will be. There is an advantage to using devices with a heart rate monitor, as these fitness trackers can detect changes in exercise intensity.
In general, the more parameters you have, the more accurate your equation should be. You will still need to calculate calories consumed, but at least the first part of the equation will be done automatically for you.
There is, of course, the Heals GoBe – a wearable that automatically tracks calories consumed. But the jury is still out on how accurate it really is.
Whatever wearable you opt for, it is important to wear it in the same position each day and keep the personal details such as height and weight up-to-date. If the tracker provides the option, it is also important to correctly calibrate the length of a walking stride.
Be careful of hidden calories
A lot of people don’t actually realise that, whilst certain healthy foods are indeed good for them, they may still contain large quantities of calories. As you know, once you consume more calories than your body requires, you’ll find your body storing what is left as body fat.
Some of the worst offenders are fruits, fruit juices, and sugary vegetables. The reason for this is that although they’re still healthy and beneficial, they do contain natural fructose sugars. These are high in calories and can therefore push you over your daily caloric requirements if you aren’t careful.
Like this article? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to never miss out!