Losing weight is an important step on the road to a thinner and healthier individual. As such, there are many diets and exercise routines — some more successful than others — a person can undertake as part of this weight loss transformation. However, one repeated concept with weight loss, regardless of the diet or exercise, is counting calories.
It's a simple concept — you essentially just add up the calories you consume during the day — but it can be a frustrating and arduous process. After all, it includes at bare minimum basic arithmetic (and who likes math?), and can combine the calories you burn, to understand what's an appropriate amount of calorie consumption. However, are there easier ways in which you can count your calories?
One of the simplest ways to count calories for yourself is through your basal metabolic rate — basically, how energy, in calories, your body uses in its resting state for 24 hours — by using the Katch McArdle formula. It factors in a person's weight, body fat percentage and activity level (how much you exercise, in hours) to determine how many calories you need per day, at bare minimum.
For example, as someone who is 145 pounds, with 8% body fat with between 1 and 3 hours of exercise per day (though in fairness it's barely over an hour), my TDEE — or total daily energy expenditure — is roughly 2,000 calories per day.
As a result, if I am to eat a proper diet, I should aim for the 2,000-calorie range. If my caloric intake exceeds this range, perhaps excessively, I run the risk of having the remaining calories stored later for fat, according to Muscle For Life. "This hints at what we have to do to reduce the amount of body fat we carry: We have to get our body to burn more fat than it stores every day, week, month, year, etc.," Michael Matthews wrote for Muscle For Life.
Additionally, you can count your calories burned during the day using a fitness tracker, such as a Fitbit or Microsoft Band, that have these features built in (and for some, you can also track it in your sleep).
Put simply, counting calories requires a good balance between energy intake and energy output, No, you might not notice results in a day or two — sometimes it'll be more incremental than that. Conversely, there are pitfalls to counting calories, which should also be considered.
"All calories are not created equal, and thinking you'll lose weight simply by counting them or cutting them will likely leave you hungry, irritable, malnourished and not much lighter than you were when you started," Dr. Frank Lipman, director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, wrote for mindbodygreen.
Even following the method though, the calories themselves aren't the most important part, either. Rather, what matters is that you're making the proper changes to your diet, for the better.
And, of course, "When in doubt, consult with your doctor or nutritionist to make sure you're on the right track," Daily Burn's fitness site Life reported.