Counting Calories for Weight Loss
Counting calories has been used as a method of fast weight loss for decades. It’s a method where you simply reduce the number of calories you take in on a daily basis and then lose weight over time.
The science that supports counting calories is based on the fact that a pound of fat can be burned if you lower your calorie count by 3500 calories. Thus, if you decrease your caloric intake by 500 calories in one day, you’ll lose one pound of fat in a week.
The question to ask is this: Are you going to be happy with a one-pound loss every week? For many people, the answer is no.
And if so, you’ll have to reduce the calorie count even more. How much you can reduce it and still be healthy is the question. The answer to this question is 50-60% of your usual caloric intake although you will still make good progress with 40%. You can lose about a pound of fat a day, depending on your starting weight. The greater your weight, the greater the weight loss you’ll have in a 45 day period of time.
Choosing Your Caloric Level
The first step to finding what calorie level you’ll need is to start a food diary for about a week, and take an average of the calories consumed daily for the entire week. This will be your starting point.
To create a food diary, you can do it either the old-fashioned way with pen and paper – or via a website that does all the calculations for you. The accuracy of the website is generally the question mark. To date, I’ve seen quite a few websites that try to calculate your protein, carbs, fat and calorie intake that are far off from the standard in the industry, which is the USDA food website.
To create a food diary yourself, make a chart that looks similar to this:
Be sure to include beverages. Then follow the 7-step process below.
Here’s how to use the USDA Food Charts.
- Go to the USDA food database at https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list
Make sure that Food Search on the menu bar is checked. Under Select Source, check off Standard Reference unless the food you ate is a specific brand of food. In that case, select Branded Food Products.
- Enter the food you ate in the box that says Enter one or more terms. For example, raw broccoli (or cooked broccoli) (or broccoli soup).
- Hit GO.
- Then select the item that matches what you ate the best.
- Next you will get a Basic Report on the food. Make sure you type in the amount of food you ate. Then find the protein, carbohydrate, fat, and energy (calories) and write it in your food diary.
- Proceed on to the next item.
- When finished entering all the foods you ate for the day, total up the calories. This is your starting calorie amount. This caloric level is what you are consuming, and the key is to lower this amount by at least 500 calories each day, preferably a lot more!
Next, take a look at the chart below to see what you could lower your caloric intake too. Of course, how much weight you lose is dependent on your height and weight right now. The taller you are, the higher your metabolic rate. The more you weigh, the higher your metabolic rate. That means you will lose more weight the taller and the greater your weight is right now.
Usual Caloric Calorie Reduction Daily Weight Loss
Intake Calories Estimate/month*
(*Weight loss estimate/month is based on the calculation: Usual Caloric Intake minus Daily Calories = calorie level for 60%/50%/40% x 30 days/month = Total calories for the month/3500 = pounds lost.)
|3200 calories||60% – 1920 calories
50% – 1600 calories
40% – 1280 calories
|3000 calories||60% – 1800 calories
50% – 1500 calories
40% – 1200 calories
|2500 calories||60% – 1500 calories
50% – 1250 calories
40% – 1000 calories
|2200 calories||60% – 1320 calories
50% – 1100 calories
40% – 880 calories
|2000 calories||60% – 1200 calories
50% – 1000 calories
40% – 800 calories
|1800 calories||60% – 1080 calories
50% – 900 calories
40% – 720 calories
Now it’s quite a bit of a shock to decrease your caloric consumption by 60% overnight. That’s why many people who use this method of fast weight gain realize that they’re going to have to either seriously evaluate the processed foods they are eating and give up the worst offenders, or they have to simply change their diet to a healthy one.
Easiest Way to Cut Calories
If you’re going to cut calories by evaluating processed foods, your worst offenders are any and all of the following:
|Incriminating Food||Calorie Loss By Giving It Up|
|Sodas, 12 ounce can||150 calories|
|Sweetened yogurt||150-300 calories|
|Salad dressing||80-120 calories|
|McDonald’s Big Mac||561 calories|
|Wendy’s Baconater||839 calories|
|Burger King Whopper w cheese||994 calories|
|Cakes and pies||150-400 calories|
|Ice cream||150-300 calories|
|Nuts and seeds||250-600 calories|
You can see from this list that it’s actually quite easy to decrease your consumption of these foods and automatically reduce your calories by 1000 calories a day. For example, let’s say you have 2 sodas daily (300 calories), a chocolate bar (100 calories), 2 slices of pizza (reduce it by one – 300 calories), and a Big Mac (you replace this with a food equivalent to 300 calories – 261 calories).
By taking these foods out of your diet, you already have a deficit of 961 calories. Next, eliminate the glass of wine or beer for another 100-150 calories and you’re at a 1111-calorie reduction, which is quite impressive. Use your food diary to help you decide which foods to eliminate.
You’ll definitely have to spend some time reading labels and making list, but let’s face it – when you do it a few times, the information becomes very memorable since it directly applies to you. It’s shocking to discover that the seemingly innocent yogurt you eat for a snack when you come home from work is 300 calories.
It’s a real revelation of magnanimous proportions when you calculate that in less than 2 weeks of the yogurt habit, you gained a pound. And since you’ve been doing the yogurt habit for the last four months as an effort to get in some healthy probiotics, you’ve gained 10.2 pounds. Thus, the learning curve is one of the most real learning curves you’ll ever experience – and one quite different than any type of school learning.
By the way, on this diet, you will see that the faster the weight comes off, the greater your motivation to stay on it is. Many patients on a very low-calorie diet (50-60% level) will say they can’t wait to get up in the morning to see how much weight they lost. You won’t find that for very many fad diets out there!
Consider Low Glycemic Index Foods to Maximize Your Weight Loss
There’s more to the story of calorie restriction than what meets the eye. Calories in one serving of a low glycemic index food are different than that of a high glycemic index food. That’s because the insulin factor comes into effect.
High glycemic index foods are foods high in sugar or any GMO food (corn, soy, wheat, sugar). When you eat a high glycemic index food, they alter your biochemistry. Within the first few minutes of eating them, they are quickly digested and send a rush of sugar into your blood. This causes the pancreas to release high amounts of insulin.
Normal amounts of insulin are not a problem in the body but when they are 4-5 times as high, they cause a literal blockade against any of your weight loss efforts. The effect lasts 18 hours. Thus, eating a high sugar breakfast bar in the morning will screw up your weight loss efforts for the next 18 hours. Any calories from the healthy meals you eat for the rest of the day will be shuffled down the fat storage pathway in your body and you’ll see an increase in your weight.
Eating low glycemic index foods is the solution. By choosing low glycemic index foods, you get no calories from the meal prancing to fat storage. Instead, they are routed to fat burning.
So do keep this in mind when you’re on a calorie counting diet.
Dangers of a Low Fat Diet That is Continuous
There’s one other thing to consider when thinking about this method of fast weight loss. It’s that since it is a low-fat diet, you don’t want to stay on it perpetually. On a low-calorie diet, you are training your metabolism to burn fat. Your body goes into ketosis – and when it does, there isn’t much hunger, if there’s any at all.
If you start eating a lot of fat, you’ll burn what you eat instead of the fat on your body. However, you can choose to cycle in two days a week where you eat something that is fatty and you can also choose to add cod liver oil for the essential omega 3 fats you need in your diet. This may slow down your weight loss but not by much.
It’s dangerous to stop all fat consumption in your diet for more than three months. Fat is needed for your body to make its own female and/or male hormones. Thus, this diet is best done for a few months at a time. You won’t want to go back to your original diet EVER, as you know that you’ll pack on the pounds as a result. However, your new diet will be similar to the low-calorie diet except with a few servings of fat and another meal. These added foods won’t make you gain weight but instead will allow you to maintain your present weight loss.
Sample Calorie Counting Diet
Most people will be on a 720-850 calorie diet. Here’s a sample of what a calorie counting diet looks like with a caloric level of 720-850 calories per day: (Use larger serving sizes for higher calorie levels.)
Breakfast: Protein shake with ½ cup berries and added fiber
Lunch: 4-5 ounces protein, 1 cup green beans, 1 bowl lettuce/tomato/kale with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, 1 serving fruit
Dinner: 4-5 ounces protein, 1 cup broccoli, 1 spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, 1 serving fruit
It’s not much but you’ll get used to it pretty quickly. It’s an easy diet to follow for at least a few months. Generally speaking, there’s a transition period needed where you’ll begin to incorporate other foods into the diet after the first 45-60 days.
With a calorie counted diet, you can maximize your results by stopping the insulin reaction. What this requires is getting out all the processed foods and high glycemic index foods. Once this is mastered, weight loss becomes easier. This diet is meant to be a short-term diet for a few months at a time.