What are the best ways to count calories? Info on the "right" amount of calories is welcome. I'm sure the sources of calories are well known here. I'm curious what a typical week of calories looks like for you guys. The various "stall" threads led me to ask this.
asked byScott (1343)
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on April 03, 2011
at 11:34 PM
What I usually suggest for someone that has never counted calories, is to continue to eat normally for a week and track your food.
Then, cut your average amount of calories by 10/15% for weight loss.
If you don't want to cut your calories or your calories are already low, then changing up your ratios of fat/protein/carbs is also an idea.
If you asked me to just pull a number of of the air, as a guy, I would say 1600/1800 calories would probably be enough for nutrition and to help with weight loss.
There are a bunch of different sites for counting your calories for free (fitday, livestrong, sparkpeople) and plenty of phone apps if you have a smart phone.
ETA: Ooh, I missed the part where you asked about our typical week! I lost weight eating about 1200 calories per day. I'm a 5'2" almost 40 year old woman, though. I did that for 6 years. Now that I am at maintenance, I raised my calories by about 50 a week until I found that I maintain well in the 1400/1500 range. It was weird and scary to raise them after so long with them low, but I am certainly enjoying the extra food!
on January 30, 2012
at 11:09 PM
I'm an aerialist who teaches fitness classes and trapeze classes during the week. I've been paleo for about 8 months and I've learned what works best for my body through trial and error. For example, I need a lot of protein and I keep my fat and carb percentages pretty even. If either one creeps up to high for too long my body shows it in the middle section.
I am 22, 5' 2" and I fluctuate between 115-118 lbs. During a holiday I can hit 120 but the number drops down after 3 days of normal eating afterward. This week, at 117, my abs are fairly visible.
I track my calories using fitday.com and stay between 1300-1400 on any day with light or no exercise. Even on a day when I'm teaching aerial classes, it's still "light" movement for me, as I'm mostly focused on techniques and I don't break a sweat in class. After seven years of living this way, I feel my body is conditioned to handle that amount of movement as standard for a normal day.
On a day I really push myself I eat at LEAST 1500 and allow myself to eat up to 1800 if I'm ravenous after hitting 1500 with dinner. A "heavy" exercise day means I'm either doing a combination of sprints and weight training, or doing a crossfit or P90X circuit with a colleague.
I log all my snacks/meals in fitday.com throughout the day. It's as easy as checking my email, so I do both often and at the same time. As I type in my foods, I can see the %'s of fat, carb, and protein. There's even a little pie chart that lets you know what ratio of macronutrients you have eaten so far. SUPER helpful! It gives me an idea of where I'm at, whether I need more protein (shrimp snack!) or whether I have enough wiggle room to enjoy a yummy carb (sweet potato, yay!).
Mostly, the online calculator gives me all the details I need while keeping me from having to spend any more brain energy on crunching numbers.
Hope this helps. And good luck!
on April 04, 2011
at 06:12 PM
I don't count calories.. I but i do track them.
I use CRON-o-meter every day to track what I eat. I like to monitor the stuff that goes into my body and some physical markers (weight, body fat, sleep quality/length, blood work results, etc). I don't really act on the data, but I have it.
It's not unusual for me to collect a large amount of data and then figure out what to do with it later.
on April 04, 2011
at 12:15 AM
Important things to consider is your age, your activity level, your current weight as well as your weight goals, and your height. A middle-aged, sedentary, short, slim woman will need considerably less calories than a tall, active, muscular teenage male.
I'm a 26 year old, 5'8", and slim female, and my sole exercise is hauling my butt across campus with a heavy backpack, and I easily maintain my weight on +/- 2000 calories a day. Since everyone has vastly differing caloric needs, I would hesitate to advocate any specific amount as "right," especially not knowing your personal details upon which to base that number.
As far as the "best" way to count calories, again, everyone is different. When I first started counting, I weighed/measured everything with my food scale and noted it in a calorie journal, then plugged it into an online calorie database to get my macros, etc. That has worked very well for me for several years and has given be a basis for being able to eyeball and estimate my calorie consumption. Your best bet right now is to write down everything you eat to get a baseline number for your current weight. Once you know that, you can get an idea on how many calories to shave off that to achieve your target at a reasonable pace. Melissa's suggestion of 10-15% seems sound to me.
Good luck with your weight goals! :)
on April 03, 2011
at 10:03 PM
I don't count calories. I'm willing to bet you'll hear that from most people on here. The "right amount" is when you're full - stop eating. If you're hungry, eat.
I've recorded what I've eaten in a day using fitday.com to satisfy curiosity - I'm 5'8", 150Lbs and I usually eat about 2,800 - 3,000 cals a day. It's always right around 60% fat (mostly monoun and sat), 10-15% carbohydrate (vegetables, fruit, potatoes) and 25-30% protein. BFP is around 12% (down from about 18% pre-Paleo), so neither the calories nor the potatoes are making me gain fat.
on April 03, 2011
at 09:46 PM
You can either have a goal to start with, or plug in what you're already eating and formulate goals from that. I would personally suggest the latter. You may want to look up an average intake for someone your size and use that as a basis for your goal as well.
Are you going low carb? If so, make sure you're getting enough protein for gluconeogenesis. Carbs should be at whatever level you're aiming for, protein in adequate amounts to maintain muscle and structure and for gluconeogenesis, and then fat to make up the rest of your calories. It is easy to go overboard on fat (macadamias, cream, coconut), which is not necessarily a good thing when you're trying to lose weight. Make sure it fits within your caloric needs.
It is important to make sure you are micronutrient replete when restricting calories, so be sure to get a wide range of nourishing foods.
I would suggest cronometer for tracking.
on May 10, 2012
at 01:34 PM
for me, observation and mindfullness have been the key. i observe how often i get hungry (on paleo foods) and what foods do nothing to satisfy me. i start to work my diet towards including the foods i love and help me to feel full/avoid snacking/overeating, and then i see where my calories are. once i see what i have with my best effort, then i look to see how i can continue to improve that. i find that just picking a number and struggling to make it work hasn't worked for me.
on January 31, 2012
at 08:56 AM
Below my average macros for the past 21 days tracked with Fitday. I follow LeanGains recomposition diet which includes Intermittent Fasting and carb cycling. Three Training Days a week, rest are Rest Days. 37 yo male, 78kg, 183cm, 17% bf.
I used the macro and BMR counter on rippedbody.jp to get to the numbers, with some tweaking. I just started an experiment yesterday by dropping my protein intake to 140g (1g per 1lbs of LBM).
- Calories 1624 - Carbs % 16% - Protein % 42% - Fat % 41% - Protein g 172 - Fat g 74
- Calories 2329 - Carbs % 53% - Protein % 33% - Fat % 11% - Protein g 195 - Fat g 30
on January 30, 2012
at 11:28 PM
i didnt have any success counting calories. if you are counting calories while eating paleo you can go back to the SAD diet and still loose weight, the issue was never counting the calories, we can all do the math, the issue is hunger. i would just rather not count calories and not be that hungry in the first place. it worked for me and it works for everybody except for those eating for stress.
on April 04, 2011
at 03:39 AM
You really need to decide what your goals are, and the whole eating when your hungry is the dumbest thing I ever heard. If you eat when you are hungry you will be eating all the time. Being hungry is a good thing and you should be hungry at least half of the time. If you want go get your body fat took and send me your information and I can send you some calorie info based on your size and activity level. Most people need to learn its not what you eat but when you eat that is the key maintaining a healthy weight and not eating muscle.