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Most people have the right idea when they want to lose weight that they should track their calorie intake. It’s true that calories do matter when it comes to weight loss but counting calories has some serious errors. These errors are typically what breaks a diet and leaves the dieter frustrated and back at square one.
Many nutrition labels are inaccurate when it comes to the calories listed. The tallies are oftentimes wrong. We know that one gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories, one gram of protein contains 4 calories, and one gram of fat contains 9 calories. Next time you see a nutrition label, pull out your calculator and do a little check for yourself. You will notice the number you get from your calculations is not the same as that of the nutrition label. There could be a difference of enough calories on a consistent basis (that you’re consuming) that is preventing your weight loss results because the true calories are unaccounted for.
Another big error occurs when you track your calories using only a volume measurement. Here are some examples:
– A regular bag of quick oats says a serving size is “1/2 cup (40 grams)”. Most people will measure out a 1/2 cup serving and count the calories of a 1/2 cup serving and go about their day. The problem is that a 40 gram serving when weighed on a scale is actually less than 1/2 a cup measurement. A 1/2 cup measurement of quick oats is somewhere around 54 to 56 grams which is a difference of around 60 calories that are unaccounted for. If you have 1/2 a cup per day, at the end of the week this is an extra 420 calories. Those 420 calories can be preventing you from losing weight or slowing down your progress.
– All natural peanut butter has a label that reads one serving is “1 tbsp (16 grams)”. Most people take either a regular dinner spoon and scoop out their serving or they take a true tablespoon and measure the peanut butter by volume. If you are not leveling off your volume measurement, it’s likely you’re taking more peanut butter and calories in than you’re accounting for. It’s easy to take a spoonful of 32 grams instead of what the nutrition label reads as 16 grams. This could be a difference of
nearly 100 calories that are unaccounted for. If you do this daily, by the end of the week that is almost 700 calories you’re eating which is more than what you thought. This extra 700 calories can completely stall weight loss.
Trying to “eye-ball” or estimate too often can prevent weight loss. It has been shown that people do a very poor job at estimating calories. When you are consistently estimating, it’s simply that, an estimate, it’s not accurate. It’s possible for a small brownie to contain upwards of 600 calories depending on the ingredients in it. Most people might estimate a brownie as only 200 calories, that is a 400 calorie difference that is unaccounted for.
So now that we’ve seen where the errors can occur, what can we do about them?
Track your macro-nutrients. Your macro-nutrients are your proteins, carbohydrates and fats. When you keep a log of your macro-nutrients using a smartphone app you will always hit your daily target calories because the calorie total is more accurate than a nutrition label.
Use weight instead of volume to measure food. By using a small kitchen scale to weigh your food you will be significantly more accurate when tracking your calories. You will also understand what true portion sizes are when you visually see food and liquids weighed out. Now, keep in mind that you don’t have to weigh your food forever but weighing your food when losing weight is going to give you the most accurate numbers and therefore the best results.
As we can see, there can be quite a few errors with tracking calories alone. When you become accurate with your tracking, you will finally get the weight loss results you want with ease.