I know counting calories is extra work and no, I don’t expect you to count every calorie you put in your mouth for the rest of you life. That said, I include counting calories in the Feel Great in 8 Challenge for a reason. So, let me answer some common calorie counting questions…
Why count calories?
My main reason for including calorie counting in the challenge is that it can be a real eye-opener. Research show that most people don’t realize how many calories they are eating every day and that we often under-estimate the calories in our food. Really measuring and tracking calories can give you a better idea of good serving sizes and how much food you should be taking in each day.
I absolutely NEVER want counting calories to be about restricting or starving yourself. My goal is that it will help you find and get used to eating the right/healthy amount of food for your body.
Hopefully counting calories as a part of the challenge will also cause you to choose your meals/snacks more carefully. With all those healthy food requirements (fruits, veggies, fiber, protein), you don’t have room for a bunch of empty calories.
How many calories should I be eating each day?
Calorie requirements vary for each person because they are determined by size, body composition, and activity level. Age and gender also make a difference. So, I recommend checking a few calorie calculators, choosing a sensible average and then adjusting it as needed. Here are a few calculators you can try…
So, your calorie goal for the challenge should be a range from 1200-the number you found above for women or 1600-the number above for men. For example, the average number I got in the 3 calculators above was 1600 calories, So, my daily caloric goal is to stay between 1200-1600. If I were to go above 1600 by up to 100 calories, I would lose 5 points, up to 200 calories I would lose 10 points, and so forth.
There are so many free options for making tracking your daily calorie intake easier! My favorite is the My Fitness Pal Website and My Fitness Pal – Free Apps. Here is a post where I share 8 Tips for Making the Most of MyFitnessPal. Once you’ve created a MyFitnessPal account, make sure to tell it to track Protein and Fiber too! (Once you’re logged in just click on “My Home”, then “Settings”, and then “Diary Settings”. You can then choose which 5 nutrients you want to watch.)
How do I figure out how many calories are in the food I eat?
The foods that are the healthiest for you (think fresh produce and homemade meals) often don’t come with nutrition labels. So, how do you figure out how many calories are in these foods? Don’t worry, there are great free online resources for that too. Just about every food I’ve ever searched is listed in the My Fitness Pal database (you can even scan barcodes on most packaged foods or upload recipes right from the web!). If you can’t find a food you’re looking for in MyFitnessPal, try these other resources…