Count The Calories In Your Diet
People who want to maintain an ideal body weight, who want to lose weight, or to gain weight always talk about how many calories they intake every day. Calories are the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius (or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). The number of calories in food is the amount of potential energy that the body can burn (metabolize) so that it can function.
I am among those who are lazy when it comes to calculating how many calories I take in, especially when there is an event or gathering with friends. Generally I will enjoy the food served on the table and eat it up! But after that….. I’ll feel guilty! So now…I am trying very hard to roughly keep track of how many calories I have taken in today, as I realize that to calculate the amount of calories we consume can help us to lose weight, and to prevent diseases such as cancer, heart, gallbladder, and diabetes, among others.
The basic rule for a healthy diet is to intake fewer calories than we burn so that we maintain a healthy body weight, or to lose excess weight. Conversely, if we eat foods with more calories than we burn, then our weight will go up. Counting calories is dependant on the serving size of the food and the number of calories that we need to take in will be subject to age, height, gender, and daily activity levels. After all, what is the purpose of our diet – whether we want to lose, gain, or maintain our weight?
It is suggested to eat 5-6 meals per day: 3 main meals and 2-3 snacks with a balanced nutritional diet that includes carbohydrates, animal and vegetable protein, and fiber (vegetables and fruits). Each daily meal should include 50-60% carbohydrates, 15-20% protein, and 25-30% fat. The portion of calories per day is approximately 25% cal for breakfast, 10% cal for snack (1), 25% cal for lunch, 10% cal for snack (2), 20% cal for dinner, and 10% cal milk (before sleep).
According to Lynn Sonberg, in the Complete Good Fat Bad Fat Carb & Calorie Counter, women can follow this calories table to maintain their weight in accordance to the desired weight:
Maintenance Calories per Day
|100 lb ( 45 kg)||1500|
|120 lb (54.5 kg)||1800|
|140 lb (63.5 kg)||2100|
|160 lb (72.5 kg)||2400|
So, if we need 1500 calories per day, we should maintain our meals at around 300-500 calories for each meal plus snacks. Each meal should include lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats and fruit or vegetables. All of these foods can make us full longer than the food with small amounts of calories from processed foods because they have high nutrients. There are tips to remember a serving size easily that I have quoted from by Lynn Sonberg:
- A baseball size: a serving of fruits and vegetables approximately equal to a baseball size.
E.g. 1 raw baby banana 48 cal, raw apples without skin 53 cal, raw mangoes 99 cal, raw pears 81 cal, iceberg lettuce 1 cal, red cherry tomato (0.6 Oz) 3 cal, Japanese cucumber (1/3 roll) 45 cal, etc.
- A deck of card or your palm (without fingers): this size is to count a serving of meat, fish, or poultry.
E.g. beef jerky (0.7 Oz) 82 cal, raw chicken breast without skin (4 Oz) 124 cal, roasted chicken drumstick 233 cal, Atlantic salmon cooked with dry heat 233 cal, tilapia cooked with dry heat (4 Oz) 145 cal, shrimp tempura (3 pieces) 76 cal, etc.
- Golf ball size: equal to ¼ cup of dried fruit or nuts.
E.g. Mixed dried fruits (apricot, pruned, and pear) 69 cal, Chinese chestnut broiled or steamed 43 cal, dry roasted cashew nuts with salt (1 Oz) 163 cal, dried roasted peanut unsalted 6 cal, etc.
- Four dice: the amount of 1 ounce of cheese.
E.g. Cheddar cheese (1 cube) 69 cal, Parmesan cheese grated (1 tablespoon) 22 cal, Kraft shredded fat free mozzarella cheese 45 cal, etc.
- Ping-pong ball size: 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, butter, cream cheese, or other similar foods.
E.g. Unsalted chunk peanut butter (1 tablespoon) 94 cal, unsalted butter (1 tablespoon) 102 cal, low fat cream cheese (1 tablespoon) 23 cal, strawberry spread (1 tablespoon) 50 cal, etc.
- Tennis ball size: equivalent to 1 ½ cup of ice cream.
E.g. Vanilla ice cream (1 cup, 4.7 Oz) 273 cal, chocolate ice cream (1 cup, 4.7 Oz) 285 cal, low fat frozen yogurt 116 cal, etc.
- Compact disc size: comparable with 1 serving of a pancake or a small waffle.
E.g. Original buttermilk pancake 154 cal, homestyle waffle 95 cal.
- Rounded handful: about one-half cup cooked or raw vegetables or one-half cup cooked pasta or rice.
Based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one serving equivalents to:
- 1 slice of whole-grain bread
- ½ bagel
- ½ cup cooked pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes
- 1 small pancake
- 2 medium cookies
- ½ cup cooked or raw vegetables
- 1 small baked potato
- ½ grapefruit or mango
- ½ cup berries
- 1 medium apple
- ¾ cup vegetable juice
- 1 cup milk or yogurt
- 1 chicken breast
- 1 ½ ounces of cheddar cheese
- ¼ lb hamburger patty
You can try to count the calories that you should eat per day or discover how many calories are in a food item, in Count Your Calories.