Do you count calories? I do.
Before you stop reading, hear me out . I do recommend counting calories perhaps once per year for 3-7 days at a time. Why? To understand what you’re putting in your body and to have a better grip on portion control. I think this even applies to men who tend to have no clue about their calorie intake. Case in point: Zach will often tell me he has had nothing (insert exaggerated tone) to eat all day. But in reality, he may have already had a grande latte with whole milk (220 cals), an everything bagel with ham, egg, and cheese (500 cals?), 2 glasses of milk (200 cals), a granola bar (100 cals)…etc etc. So you see, he’s consumed over 1000 calories and it is likely not even noon yet, so this is pre-lunch. He probably eats about 3000 calories a day, though on the weekends he ‘forgets’ to eat. Yeah, I wish that would happen to me
For those that may be trying to lose weight, we know to lose 1 lb of fat, you must burn 3500 calories. Therefore you want your calories-in < calories-out/burned. Right? Well we look at the calorie tracker on our treadmills, ellipticals, garmins, etc (though please note that many are not very accurate), so why don’t we do a fair examination of how many calories we are putting in our body.
I will take you through a typical day’s worth of food for me, noting that for 70% of my 9 hour work day I’m sitting at a computer and I will do cardio and strength training for 60 minutes in the evening along with multiple dog walks, hence heavier cal intake in the PM.
14 oz home-brewed coffee (cinnamon in coffee grounds) with 1.5 tbsp flavored cream — calories = 50
1 packet TJs cinn-apple oatmeal with 1 tbsp raisins — calories, 130 + 45 = 175
1.5-2 cups homemade Asian cabbage slaw in tortilla — portion size estimate from total (including olive oil veggies were sautéed in and added soy sauce) 175, tortilla 50, calories = 200
Small nectarine – calories = 70
Viactiv multivitamin — calories = 20
1/4 cup raw almonds — calories = 160
Stolen (miniature) reeses pb cup from cubemate — calories = 44
Veggie burger on sandwich thin — burger 120 cals, sandwich thin 100 cals, 1 tbsp ketchup and mustard each 15 cals, light Laughing Cow cheese 35 cals, total calories = 285
2+ cups steamed brussel sprouts with <1 tbsp margarine – calories = 130
5 stolen grapes while packing tomorrow’s lunch — calories = 20
Licking remaining PB of a knife while making tomorrow’s sandwich — calories = 45
8 oz glass of red wine — calories = 160
Not mentioned and cal-free:
>64 oz of water
Ground pepper on nearly everything
Dashes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to sweeten coffee, etc
Total Cals for the day: 1359
This is purely an example, but is awfully representative of how a typical eating day would go for me. It may seem like not-enough calories for some, but I have a pretty slow metabolism despite my fitness level. Therefore I must keep things on the low side.
But did you notice all the hidden cals? Like the creamer, ketchup, mustard, viactiv, olive oil, licking pb, stealing grapes? They equal to nearly 200 calories. Don’t we all sneak a bite here and there? Of course! And no one should nit pick or worry too much over this, but I wanted to highlight that it does add-up day in and day out.
Other healthy items I like to include in my daily routine:
1/2 cup cottage cheese with 1/4 cup salsa — calories = 100
1 serving baby carrots and 1/2 sliced up cucumber — calories = 70
2/3 cup PB Puffins as a snack — calories = 110
2 cut up Smart Dog tofu dogs — calories = 90
Iced 2 pump vanilla, non-fat iced latte from Starbucks — calories = 150
Heaping romaine salad with 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, cut up peppers, cukes, carrots, and 2 tbsp feta, 2 tbsp light dressing — calories = 300
Medium banana — calories = 90
Indulgent holiday time candy (like jellybeans, candy hearts, or candy corn) — e.g. 140 calories for 18 candy corn
Green monster (1/2 cup frozen spinach, 1/2 cup skim milk, 1 med banana, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries) — calories = 200
I’ve actually worked with a nutritionist in the past and she argued that I should eat a couple hundred more calories during the week and a couple hundred less on the weekends. I ‘spose I should have added the caveat that the above is for a weekday food entry. My weekends get a tad ridiculous because I splurge way more than I should and end up eating closer to 2600 calories (double!!!). The goal for me is to try to eat 1600 during the week and perhaps 2200 on the weekends so I’m not yo-yo-ing so much!
Clearly I’m no expert and everyone needs to do what is right for them. But it is helpful to have a knowledgeable take on the amount of calories you are putting in your body. And are you combining your foods to maximize their staying power…e.g. apple slice with peanut butter?
The beauty of it all is that the possibilities are endless! Finding the right food combos can be as satisfying as a trip to Marshall’s or TJ Maxx
So tell me, are you adamantly against counting calories or willing to give it a try just for a day or two?