When you’re trying to manage your weight, knowledge is power – especially about calories. Whether you want to lose weight, maintain your current weight or even gain a few kilos, knowing exactly how many calories you should consume each day is the key to success.
It’s also helpful to know how those calories should be spread over the course of the day. How many calories should you have at each meal – and what about snacks?
At first calorie counting can seem complicated and confusing, but it really isn’t once you understand how it works.
Says 12WBTer Sandra:
“I studied advanced maths, but it’s taken me 40 years to understand calories in versus calories out – how to nourish my body rather than just eat.”
If you’re not confident to count calories on your own, consider joining a program like 12WBT where the meals are calorie-controlled and planned out for you.
It takes the guesswork out of calorie counting and will help you reach your goals.
The Correct Calories
A key element in reaching your goals is choosing healthy foods to make sure your daily calorie count goes a long way, leaving you feeling satisfied and energised rather than hungry and miserable.
Each meal should contain lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats and fruit or vegetables. These are all high in nutrients and will make you feel fuller for longer than all those empty calories you get from processed foods.
Fruit makes an excellent snack – one medium banana and a punnet of strawberries equals 150 calories.
Other healthy snack options include a slice of wholegrain bread with two teaspoons of peanut butter (135 calories), three dates (165 calories) and four wholegrain crackers with two slices of low-fat cheese (135 calories).
To find out the number of calories in different foods and drinks, use a calorie calculator.
Women’s Calorie Requirements
Keep in mind that women have different calorie requirements to men. Men tend to have more muscle and less fat on their bodies – they burn more calories throughout the day and so can eat more.
That means your partner or brother can generally take on several hundred calories more than you each day to achieve the same results.
Says 12WBTer Chelsea:
“It might seem unfair, but it’s important to take these differing calorie requirements into account. I was a bit surprised by the portion sizes, but that’s what got me in trouble in the first place. I had what Michelle Bridges refers to as portion distortion!”
Time to get down to some calorie number crunching. Let’s take a look at three weight goals – loss, maintenance and gain – to find out how many calories and which foods you should be eating to get there.
Firstly, you’ll need to know what your goal weight is. To work that out, use this body mass index (BMI) calculator.
A healthy BMI should be within the range of 18.5 to 24.9. If yours is higher, you’ll need to lose weight, lower than that and you need to put on some weight, and if you’re in the middle, you’ll be looking to hold fast and maintain your weight.