Use counting calories in food to monitor, and change, your choices.

Calories are a measure of energy. Tracking the number of calories in food allows you to determine how much energy you are putting into your body. You can work out how much energy you're putting in using a basic calorie chart, or by checking the nutritional labels on food.

I have tried counting calories as a means of monitoring my intake, and found that it is difficult for me to maintain, although as this is website is about you building your own program, I do know that for some people it works very well.

So delve through this section, hopefully you'll find something that's helpful for you.

How much energy are you putting into your body?

To accurately work out how much energy you're consuming, you need to record all the foods and drink that you consume. Determining how much energy is in each food used to be quite difficult, but with most foods and drinks coming with nutrition labels these days, it's become much easier.

You can also find a calorie chart free in most magazines, or a calorie calculator online, without too much trouble, and these will help you find the calorie content of foods that don't come with labels, such as meats, fruits, vegetables and so on.

Each nutritional label will give you the total number of calories, and the number of calories in a specific portion size. As long as you know how much you've eaten, one portion, two, 100gms, 4 oz, you can work out the calorie content of the amount you've eaten.

You can then use this to pinpoint what choices you can make to reduce your calorie (energy) intake, and to work out how much energy you're using. To get leaner you need to take in less energy than you actually use. To maintain your weight you need to only take in the same amount of energy as you use.

I have always found this time consuming and not particularly useful on a long term basis. But, I have done it on occasion, for a couple of days every now and then.

Counting calories in food helps you focus...

The reason is because it does help me become aware on what I'm putting into my mouth. When I do a calorie chart, I don't actually think it's a very good representation of what I've been eating...but it's a great way of getting me to be conscious of what I eat on that day. Just thinking about the calories in food helps me be aware of what I'm doing.

You see, the minute I know I'm going to record what's going into my mouth, I start watching what I'm doing. I really don't want to put down that I've eaten half a block of chocolate, so even if I ate it the day before, I don't eat it on the days I'm recording...that's just a little too confronting.

It makes me conscious of the food choices I'm making...and I really have to decide whether I want to look back at the end of the day and wince at the choices I've made...usually I don't.

After a couple of days counting calories in food is too time consuming, but that's long enough to remind me of the food choices I want to make, and gives me another way of looking at food...and I'm back on track.

Including everything.

When adding up the calories of food, you have to remember to include everything. Drinks (with the exception of water) all have calories, if you add cordial to your water, this will have calories too. If you add milk to your coffee, you have to remember to put down the milk and the coffee.

This can make your calorie chart quite involved and time consuming, and if you're like me, as soon as you know you're change the choices you make. That's o.k. treat that as a positive thing...use calorie charts and the number of calories in food in ways that work for you.

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