A calorie is a unit of energy, and all the food you eat can be assessed for calorie content. Specifically, it “represents the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a liter of water 1′ centigrade at sea level.” 
The food you eat and the fluid you drink turn into energy which your body needs to function properly.
The sources of energy are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The digestible carbohydrates or glycogen in your diet is converted into simple glucose molecules through the process called glycogenolysis. Your body processes fats into glycerol and fatty acids through lipolysis, which is part of your metabolism.
The excess protein is stored as fatty acids and produces glucose through gluconeogenesis. Your body uses glucose first by breaking down its molecules into ATP or adenosine triphosphate, the energy currency of life .
When glucose is depleted, it turns to fatty acids which also turns into ATP. All this energy is measured in terms of calories.
Why Is It Important to Count Calories?
Counting calories is a dieting method that monitors the number of calories you consumed in one day. It is also referred to as CICO, which means “calories-in calories out.”
With CICO, you can achieve your ideal weight by setting the maximum goal and keeping a tab of your daily consumption to limit it within the targeted amount.
When you consume more calories than you burn off, you gain weight over time. It means that if you eat more than what you need for your daily activities, the excess calories are stored as glycogen or fat.
So, when it comes to your weight, there’s no question about it, calorie intake does matter.
How to Count Calories to Lose Weight?
There are five ideas to make counting calorie easy. CICO may sound simple but can be challenging in the real world. There’s a lot of calorie-laden comfort food to tempt you, and it takes control not to overenjoy them.
However, if you put your mind to it and have the determination to succeed, then nothing is impossible.
When you get used to CICO, it’s just a breeze to follow. It will come as second nature, and eating healthy food with portion control becomes a habit. Later, you don’t need to count calories anymore when you lose those extra pounds, and your new diet has become an integral part of the new you.
1. Check your present diet
Count your calorie without changing your diet maybe for several days or a week. This gives you time to adjust to the process without additional pressure. Once you get used to the routine, you are more confident and likely to continue with the regime. Being prepared prevents disappointment and failure.
Another benefit is to provide you with information about what kind of food you eat and how much. Are you inclined to sweet food for your dessert or fast food for your meals? Do you prefer fatty meat over lean meat? Do you like white bread over whole grains? Are you fond of eating processed than whole food? You might be surprised at the result.
With this data, you would know which food to cut down or totally do without. You would know how to substitute high-calorie with low-calorie ingredients. For example, if you’re using heavy cream, you can replace it with half and half. 100 grams of heavy whipping cream has 337 calories versus 59 for fat-free half and half.
2. Set small calorie goals
After you have established your regular diet and the routine, you can now set your calorie goal. You don’t have to think big, like cutting down half of your daily intake. Setting an unrealistic goal can be frustrating if you can’t come up to your expectations. You’ve gained the extra pounds slowly, so it will take a while to lose them.
For women to lose 1 pound per week, they need to cut down 1,500 calories while men, need to cut down 2,000. Translate that amount into per day it would only be about 214 for female and 286 for male fewer calories to lose one pound in one week. When your goal is clear, it’s very easy to implement your course of action.
Your ideal calorie daily intake depends on your age, gender, height, and weight. Generally, women require a maximum of 2,000 calories per day while men 2,500 to keep healthy . You can go as far as the minimum of 1,200 calories per day, but if you go lower than that, you could be exposing yourself to a health risk.
3. Use a calorie app
With the availability of many apps and website versions that calculate your calorie intake, it’s not difficult to keep track of your consumption throughout the day. They have millions of foods in their databases to provide you with the calorie count, nutrition information, and serving size.
These apps provide you with a diary of the type of foods you eat and help you understand your eating habit and increase the possibility of attaining your goal. The logging system is user-friendly, just scan the bar code or save meals and recipes. They are designed for fast and easy calorie tracking.
4. Weigh your food portions
Using a digital kitchen scale is more convenient and accurate than cups and spoons. So, invest in a good weighing scale since you will be using it regularly. Choose one with options in grams, ounces, pounds, and kilograms. A great idea to save on time and effort measuring food portions is to meal prep.
You can roast batches of chicken breasts, sweet potato, and vegetables of your choice. Then place the correct portion in several containers and label each with the number of calories it contains so you don’t need to weigh every time you eat. You can also meal prep your breakfast and snacks.
5. Count your food and calorie intake
You can twist your regular diet a little bit starting with snacks. If you love to nibble on potato chips, you may try plain popcorn instead. 100 grams potato chips contain 536 calories while an air-popped popcorn has only 387. Popcorn has high fiber content and makes you feel full for a long time.
Can you resist the milkshake? Chocolate milkshake has 112 calories per 100 grams. Replace the shake with unsweetened fruit juices such as grapefruit with 39 calories per 100 grams, orange with 45, cranberry with 46, apple with 46, pineapple with 53, and pomegranate with 54. So, you cut down a lot of calories on snacks and drinks alone.
How about the white bread? 100 grams would give you 265 calories. If you change your carbohydrate source to whole grain or root vegetable, it will give you more nutrients but less calorie. 100 grams of cooked quinoa has 120 calories, cooked brown rice has 112, baked sweet potato has 90, and beetroot has 37.
These are just small starting points that prove to be very attainable. Try to maintain this diet for a few weeks until your body gets used to it. When you have been comfortable with these little changes, you can move on to the next stage. Look into other areas where you can lower down more calories like your meats and desserts.
You can substitute beef and pork with poultry and fish. 100 grams roasted tenderloin has 324 calories while roasted chicken has 197. Roasted turkey breast best them all with only 189 calories per 100 grams. The best seafood to choose is the Atlantic cod, with only 82 calories per 100 grams.
What about dessert? Who doesn’t love chocolate, cakes, and ice cream? They are not bad if you make healthy choices and in moderation. To give you more nutrition, you can have fruits and plain yogurt, just use your imagination to turn them into satisfying and exciting desserts.
Be ready to change your lifestyle if you want to lose weight through CICO. Practice clean eating which encourages you to have a diet of whole food such as fruits and vegetables, lean meat and whole grains It’s an approach that ensures your general wellbeing coupled with exercise or active living.
Check out books and websites with low-calorie recipes and use the calorie app to keep you in the right direction. You don’t need to do this alone. Join support groups to give you advice or share best practices. Don’t forget to reward yourself when you win small victories, so you stay motivated.
Also, check out the female fat burners that we have tested and recommended. You’ll be surprised how an extra few calories burned will add up over the months.