The good news is that counting calories is easy. The bad ones – the food will have to be weighed. “If you want to get in shape – count calories!” – this is almost the first advice that you will hear from your fitness trainer. How to count calories if you want to lose weight. How to quickly determine the number of calories in each dish. What to do with counting if you eat in a restaurant or cafe. At the request of Soviet Sport Life & Style, an accessible guide on calorie counting was compiled by a professional expert – master trainer of the federal network of X-FIT fitness clubs Ivan Ermolaev.
What is calorie counting for?
Calories are a measure of the energy that the body gets from food. If we get a surplus (surplus) of energy, then the body, most likely, will leave it in reserve – that is, it will be deposited in the form of subcutaneous fat. If there is an energy deficit, then the body will have to cover it. To do this, he uses his own tissues: fat and muscle.
To summarize: with a lack of energy, we lose weight, with a surplus, we gain weight. Thus, in order to have an idea of whether our body is losing weight or, on the contrary, is growing in new mass, we need to know two parameters. The first is how many calories we burn. The second is how many calories we get from food.
How to calculate the number of calories your body spends
Usually, the Harris-Benedict formula is used to calculate how many calories you burn. At the beginning of the 20th century, these American scientists studied the process of human metabolism. The Harris-Benedict formula consists of two parameters – base metabolism and active metabolism.
Basal metabolism is the approximate number of calories a male or female body spends per day. For men, it is calculated by the following equation:
Base metabolism = 88.36 + (13.4 x weight, kg) + (4.8 x height, cm) – (5.7 x age, years)
Base metabolism = 447.6 + (9.2 x weight, kg) + (3.1 x height, cm) – (4.3 x age, years)
An active metabolism is a coefficient that you assign to yourself depending on your lifestyle and daily stress. There are several factors: 1.2 – sedentary lifestyle; 1.375 – moderate activity (light exercise 1-3 times a week); 1.55 – average activity (power loads 3-5 times a week); 1,725 - intense activity (playing sports 6-7 times a week); 1.9 – super intense activity (for athletes who train daily).
To know how many calories we burn on a daily basis, we need to multiply our base metabolism by our active metabolic rate. After that, you will have the exact number of calories you burned.
How to count calories we get from food
It is more difficult to count the calories we get from food. To do this, the food will have to be weighed. However, if your diet is more or less constant, very soon you will remember the calorie content of the main dishes, and the need for scales will disappear.
To count the calories in food, you need to know the calorie content in 100 g of each product – this marking is written on the label. Then you should weigh the food: its calorie content is calculated by the formula – the weight of the food is multiplied by the number of calories in 100 g and divided by 100. In this case, multi-component dishes – for example, side dishes and meat will have to be weighed separately. It’s the same with sushi, pizza and salads: you have to at least roughly imagine how many and what products are in each portion. Then you need to add up the calories of all the ingredients.
All calories “eaten” during the day should be recorded. At the end of the day, you will have two numbers on your hands, which we talked about above. The first is the number of calories, taking into account physical activity, that your body “burns”. The second is the amount of calories from food. You will see where the calorie overruns are allowed and you will be able to vary the meals and portions of food – in favor of lower calorie and higher in weight.
How to count calories when you are not eating at home
Calorie counting can be difficult if you eat in a restaurant, cafe or at a party. To simplify calculations, we can recommend two options: a) ask for familiar foods and the usual portion sizes, whose calorie content you know; b) remember what dishes you ate – and calculate the calorie content at home post factum (or on the spot – depending on the calorie content of a new product on the Internet).
However, nothing terrible will happen if you eat at a restaurant 1-2 times a month and do not calculate the calorie content. If you eat on a daily basis and keep counting calories, the harm to your diet from one-time trips to the restaurant will be minimal. No wonder, and professional athletes have “fasting days” when they allow themselves to deviate from the rigor of the diet.
What else you need to know about how to count calories
– eat small and approximately equal portions by weight – this will make it easier to keep track of calories;
– eat at least 4 times a day. One of the keys to successful weight loss is a fast metabolism. Eating small meals often can speed up your metabolism;
– eat a balanced diet. Food should contain all the necessary micro- and macronutrients, proteins, fats and carbohydrates;
– use internet calorie counters to make calculation easier;
– Calorie intake formulas may not work in some cases (for example, with a large overweight). In this case, contact your dietitian.