Is Counting Calories the Key Variable in My Weight-loss Equation?

Here's what you need to know about calories and how to count them.

Calorie counts are posted on nutrition labels, fast food signs, restaurant menus and many online sites. How much do they really matter and how many should you be consuming a day?

That’s a highly popular question as more and more people become health conscious and mindful of their eating habits. However, there are many different opinions between health professionals. While a strict regimen of counting your calories isn’t a perfect solution to weight-loss, it can be a great tool to stay on track with your plan. However, you should know a few things first.

What You Should Know about Calories

Your Ideal Number or Range

How many calories do you need each day? Many web sites give you a ballpark number, but this isn’t completely accurate. Some don’t take into consideration activity levels and genetics, but they can be a great guide. On average, women need around 1500 calories and men need around 1800.

How Much to Cut Out

To lose a pound, you need to cut 3500 calories from your diet. However, this doesn’t have to happen all in one day. Instead, try decreasing your calorie intake by 500 or 250 each day and pair that with extra exercise to make a 3500 total calorie deficit.

Know Your Expectations

There are exceptions to counting calories. Some foods are highly nutritious but also higher in calories. Strictly counting calories can tempt you to cut these foods from your diet. For example: nuts, seeds and avocados are high in good fats but high in calories. They play an important part in good nutrition and shouldn’t be eliminated. Instead, they should be chosen in moderation.

How Can Counting Calories Help?

Benefit #1

Calorie counting and logging can keep you in touch with your diet and help you stay on track. You might think twice about the 400-calorie coffee drink if you are thoughtfully keeping track. This is a great way to stay focused on the changes you need to make to meet your goals.

Benefit #2

Calorie counting and logging can help you identify problems in your diet and come up with new ideas. When you count calories by logging, you can see areas that need some work. For example, if you find that you are going to the vending machine for a 200-calorie bag of chips after lunch, take a look at your lunch and see what can be changed to make it more satisfying.

Benefit #3

Calorie counting pushes you toward healthier options. An apple has far less calories than an apple pie! You will find yourself moving toward healthier choices or quickly running out of options. For examples on healthy food swaps to lower your calorie count and gain nutrition, CLICK HERE.


Losing weight is an art and it takes strategy. Simply put, different approaches work for different people. Many people do very well with calorie counting, but it’s not for everyone — especially if you don’t do well with strict rules. Give it a try to see if this gets you going in the right direction!

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