How to Calorie Count

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Joined: Jan 09
Posts: 4,546

Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 18:04
I've had about 20 people message me today asking how to do calorie counting since WW points are gone. So I though I might post a simple guide for anyone interested in trying it. I'm not saying anything negative about WW or anyone on it, just trying to give you an alternative that is completely free and has worked great for me and many others.

RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate): this is the number of calories you need to maintain your weight if you do no exercise. There are many different ways to calculate it, but the truth is it will be different for everyone, so you need to adjust for what works for you.

To lose ONE pound, you need to eat 3500 calories less than you burn. So if you want to lose ONE pound a week, you eat 500 calories a day less than you burn, that is your RMR + exercise calories. (500 x 7 days = 3500) If you want to lose TWO pounds a week, eat 1000 calories less. The only caveat is that you should never go below 1200 calories. If you want to know why, I'll post that later. The number of calories you aim for is you Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)

1. Find your RMR and RDI. I think webmd has the most accurate method:

If you choose "not active" then you can take your exercise calories into account yourself with the exercise journal.

If you exercise more, you can eat more. If you don't exercise, you eat less. It's quite simple.

2. Try to eat your RDI. Not more, not less. Eating the correct amount will help you lose fat, not muscle.

3. Protein, Fat, Carbs: Every diet will tell you something different. Weight Watchers comes out to about 50% Carbs, 30% Protein, 20% Fat. So if you like WW, go with those numbers. Personally, I don't think it matters much as long as you get enough protein. 30% is a good number to aim for. Fatsecret gives you all the tools you need to see what you're eating and what you need to change.

4. Exercise. It's great. You should do it Smile As much as you like or can stand. Well, okay, not a ridiculous amount! 5 hours a week would be a good place to start. But something is better than nothing, so just do what you can.

5. Lose weight! Always give it at least 3 weeks before adjusting, especially women. Women have a lot of weight fluctuation due to our hormonal cycle, so it can take time to see the pounds come off.

Using myself as an example:
Webmd says my RMR with no exercise is 1979 calories a day.
If I subtract 1000 calories, to lose 2 pounds a week, I will go under 1200. So without exercise, I would eat 1200 calories a day.

However, I DO exercise, 5-6 days a week. So I eat more also. I've done a lot of trial and error, but for the last 5 months my weight loss has been very steady. The number that works for me is 1500 calories a day.

Hope that helps someone! I would be happy to answer any questions you might have or advise you if you're interested in trying it. I'm not a doctor or nutritionist or anything and I don't know it all. I only know what has worked so well for me that I have lost 91 pounds and dropped 10 pants sizes! (from 24 to 14) And it didn't cost me a penny. Except the gym membership, which you do not need.

My food diary is open, so if you're curious what I eat, feel free to look. Keep in mind, I am a vegetarian.

Good luck to everybody in finding your own path to health and a fit, attractive body Smile
My blog, This is not a Diet:
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Joined: Aug 07
Posts: 46

Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 18:47
I'll second that, and add some more details on nutritional breakdown.

After my first month of wearing myself out on a pretty restricted "real diet" and nearly giving up, I found my pace by eating well on a "new lifestyle" with around 1400 kcal per day (400 less than my Resting Metabolic Rate RMR). My gym consultant advised me to increase my lean protein intake (reasons: it's filling, energising and repairs worked on muscles) and eat 5-6 times a day (to keep my metabolism up). Which took some doing, as I was used to 3 meals. But home-made tasty cheesecakes (fat and sugar free) has helped made me snack!
The following quantities per day work well for me:

30g fat (so non-stick pans and no added cooking oils for now)
130g protein (tuna, chicken breast, tofu, cottage cheese are great)
150g carbs (40g muesli for breakfast, the rest is from green vegetables. I use sweetener instead of sugar, for my sins...)

This adds up to around 1400 kcal. Check out my diet calendar for details.

I'm not big on supplements or additives so my larder staples are:
fat free yoghurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese and milk;
tuna in brine, chicken breast, tofu, salmon, trout, eggs;
broccoli, green beans, zucchini, tomato, cabbage, lettuce, onion, cucumber;
breakfast only: oats, toast, berries;
snacks: cocoa or chai spices in fat-free milk with sweetener, home made cheesecake and frozen yoghurt, celery and cream cheese.
condiments: lots of Indian spices, herbs, pepper, tamari, fish sauce, garlic, ginger.

I do struggle to eat healthily while away from home, but I'm getting better at refusing the third piece of Birthday cake.

Weight lifting exercise (something I used to point and laugh at) has transformed my body completely. So, 25 lbs later (in the overweight BMI range from nearly obese to nearly normal) this is working for me and I feel I can keep it up indefinitely. 10 lbs to go and I'll up to 2000 kcal to even out. That's the plan anyway - wish me luck!

Hope this helps!

Joined: Jun 08
Posts: 13

Posted: 30 Apr 2010, 23:42
The world need more people like you 2, beginning, middle and end!

Joined: Apr 10
Posts: 9

Posted: 01 May 2010, 00:37
Hi Ladies!

K8, Thx for the tips, I wanted to leave this message before I checked out the link you sent, but think that it would be great to double check the RDI recommended by FS against the sources you provided! Thanks for the tips!

smartoak: Great tips as well, but hold up, wait a sec... please rewind to the "home-made tasty cheesecakes (fat and sugar free)" Do explain...that sounds like something that would make me want to snack too! Wink Better believe I will be checking out your profile to see if I can figure out that recipe! Hee Hee

Thanks all for the advice and tips! I appreciate it!!
Find me on Twitter: OddsAgainstMe

Joined: Aug 07
Posts: 46

Posted: 01 May 2010, 06:06
I've blogged about my cheesecake recipe here:

It's the rhubarb one, but use any fresh berries or fruit you like. I used to add nuts as well, which is tasty if you can afford the extra calories.
Just ensure you weigh and list the ingredients in your cook book recipe, register it as 8 portions, add them one at a time to your diary and snack away. Serve with 50g fat free yoghurt or quark. Enjoy!

Hm, all this cake talk is making me hungry now... Smile

Joined: Jan 10
Posts: 148

Posted: 01 May 2010, 07:11
I always use the WebMd RDI as opposed to the FS RDI because I think it is the most effective.
It's MY time!

Joined: Jan 10
Posts: 830

Posted: 01 May 2010, 09:38
I agree wholeheartedly. For those of us who hate working out (it's getting better), I have a question:

Is your health worth dedicating 4 hours a week? How about 2?

I started very slow, 15 minutes of cardio 3-5 times a week and 20 minutes of weight training 2-3 times a week. That's all I could muster when I started.

Today I'm up to 4-5 times a week at 30 minutes for cardio and 3 times a week at 30 minutes for strength training. What I keep telling myself is if I do 5x30 cardio and 3x30 strength, it's only 4 hours per week! Surely I'm worth it.

The results have been excellent, both in weight loss and body composition. I'm seeing muscles that have been hibernating since I was in my 20's.

It's been exactly 4 months since I started and I've lost 38 pounds so far! I eat a lot of unhealthy fast food, but count calories. The difference is that I try to keep within my calculated calorie range +/- 200 calories. Fast food is limited due to this restriction (lots of chicken sandwiches and subway subs).

As I learn more, I plan on altering my diet over time to get even more health benefits, but for now, losing the weight and giving my heart some exercise are my top priority.

Good luck all!

I work for the Department of Redundancy Department

Joined: Jan 10
Posts: 68

Posted: 01 May 2010, 11:38
rjenkins--your post reminds me of a funny cartoon I saw the other day. I'm so sorry that I will neither quote it perfectly nor be able to give credit to the creator because I don't remember his name but it was funny and true enough to repost in some form here:

Doctor to patient: Which is more inconvenient to your busy schedule? Working out 1 hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?

While it was certainly funny, it definitely made me think, too...the man has a point. Smile

Joined: Jan 09
Posts: 4,546

Posted: 01 May 2010, 12:21
Great additions, friends Smile

I'm really glad you posted rjenkins, because no one should get the impression you have to completely change what you eat to do this. As you point out, we can even lose weight eating "unhealthy fast food." As long as we don't eat too much of it, we can eat anything! So you CAN'T cheat. If you have a high cal lunch, you can make up for it with a smaller dinner.

You'll find that you can eat a much greater quantity of some things than others. Those high cal, small quantity items become less appealing and the low cal, large quantity items become more appealing.

I absolutely hated exercise, but I love it now. It's a habitual part of my day that I look forward to. And I love that I have the energy and stamina to do things like go for hikes with my friends or run a 5K.
My blog, This is not a Diet:
Follow me on Facebook for tips, recipes, advice, exercise ideas and more:

Joined: Feb 10
Posts: 518

Posted: 01 May 2010, 13:32
I have a question for you guys:
I am on Atkins, but I seriously want to phase it out. Now, how to do that without balooning up and having a carb hangover? I am losing weight, fine, but I am not so sure I can maintain this way of life, it simply isnt realistic, in my opinion. I had an episode of overcarbing and feeling really sick, I am scared to change suddenly. I am absolutely serious about changing my life for good.
Do NOT quit! The universe always bows to persistence - Tom Venuto

Joined: Jan 09
Posts: 4,546

Posted: 01 May 2010, 13:41
That's an interesting question. I've never tried Atkins, but I think gradual changes are always best. Giving your body time to adjust is always good. So maybe gradually add more carbs and less fat. Personally, I eat about 30% protein, 35% fat, 35% carbs. Definitely focus on high fiber carbs, like whole grains, vegetables, beans, etc and you should probably be fine.
My blog, This is not a Diet:
Follow me on Facebook for tips, recipes, advice, exercise ideas and more:

Joined: Aug 07
Posts: 46

Posted: 01 May 2010, 14:15
Hi anapdc, I've done exactly that. Try phasing out Atkins for breakfast first. I've been told that's the best time to have carbs and burn them, if you tend to put them into storage like me. So switch to a ~400kcal muesli, fat-free yoghurt, fruit and wholemeal bread breakfast, and stay on Atkins plus more low GI vegetables for other meals. That works well for me, because if I feel like carbs at night, I look forward to breakfast! Smile
Give it a go and let us know how you get on! Good luck whatever you decide.

Joined: Feb 10
Posts: 518

Posted: 01 May 2010, 14:54
Thanks Kate!

Yes, thats me. Evenings are my doom hahahaha One thing Atkins is helping me is curbing hunger. But overall my eating habits improved. I couldnt live without bread and milk, now I am learning how to work around them. Plus, I am cooking for myself, which is great, I plan my meals.
Do NOT quit! The universe always bows to persistence - Tom Venuto

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