Counting Calories to Lose Weight or Gain Weight

Counting calories is the easy way to control weight. Calorie counting enables you to design a personalized weight management plan.

Weight loss or gain is simply a matter of science and math. Individuals in overall good health need only desire, along with basic math and reading skills, to take charge of their weight. Learn how easy it is to determine your body’s calorie needs, select foods within a healthy calorie range, and track calories. Anyone who can budget their personal expenses can manage calorie expenditure.

What is a Calorie?

A calorie is simply a measure of heat and heat units measure human energy. Kilocalorie (kcal) is the term used in the field of nutrition science but calorie is the common expression. The textbook definition of “a kilocalorie, or 1000 calories, is the measure of heat necessary to raise the temperature of 1000 grams (l liter) of water one degree Centigrade.” [1]

To relate this to food, consider that each gram of carbohydrate consumed yields 4 kcal of human energy; one gram of protein yields 4 kcal as well and fats yield 9 kcal per gram. With exercise, cells use this energy, heat is produced, and body temperature rises; hence the term burning calories. In a healthy body, the energy brought into the body with food (calorie intake) is balanced with energy output (calories burned).

How to Count Calories

Begin by estimating the appropriate calorie intake for your gender, height, weight, age and daily activity level. A tool on the Baylor College of Medicine website performs a quick calculation based on the criteria entered. Then select a tracking system. Web tools and electronic gadgets are readily available, though old fashioned paper and pen works just as well. Embrace the manner suitable to your lifestyle. This is your plan – make it work for you.

Choose one or several methods to determine the calories ingested and expended. Take advantage of federal labeling regulations and get into the habit of reading food labels. Many book stores carry calorie-counting pocket guides, handy for unlabeled foods and dining out. To estimate calories burned through exercise, try WebMD’s Fit-o-Meter.

Start Calorie Counting Now

To register calories each day, some keep a running total to stay within their target, while others work from the calorie cap and count down with each meal or snack. MyPyramid.gov offers a menu planner, which does all the counting for you, and also encourages a nutritious well-balanced diet. Start tallying now to control your weight!

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