Why Calorie Counting Matters

I am not happy that calorie counting matters, but it really does.  Like many of my peers, I could stand to lose a few pounds.  In my teens and twenties, it was fairly easy to lose weight – just increase my physical activity and, presto, the weight would come off without any diet modification.

Sad to say, those days are over.   Even with 4 to 5 rigorous, 90 minute workouts a week, those excess pounds are very slow to come off.

Nutrition experts as well as physicians with whom I have discussed this are fairly blunt – you have to count calories.

What does this mean, in a practical sense?  In my case, I need about 2,750 calories a day to maintain my weight.   A vigorous workout burns around 800 calories, so I can consume around 3,500 calories a day and not gain any weight.  A pound is equal to 3,500 calories.    Assuming that 2 days a week, I consume 3,500 calories, I need to limit myself to 2800 calories a day for 5 days a week to drop a pound a week.

I can’t eat too few – or my body will go into starvation mode.

Recently, I started counting calories.   I made some surprising discoveries.

  • I enjoy popcorn and I use a Whirley-pop 6 quart popper that uses 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and 3 to 4 tbsp of oil – 6 quarts = 1,536 calories
  • I enjoy French bread and butter or Smart Balance – my portion costs me between 1,200 and 1,500 calories
  • Pizza – 3 slices of cheese pizza – 500 calories
  • chicken breast (8 oz.) – 450 calories
  • rice (flavored) – my portion around 800 calories

In my case, portion size is the problem, as is speed of eating.   I am using the About.com Calorie Count online service to track what I eat – we’ll see how it goes.