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Calorie Counting: How-to

Do's and don'ts for counting your calories

Finding your energy balance

We all have different calorie needs: A rugby player will need far more calories per day than an office worker! This is known as our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and is an estimate of the minimum amount of energy needed to keep your body functioning at rest.

On top of your BMR, you’ll need calories for extra activities; this is called your total daily calorie needs and depends on your activity level. Estimate your BMR and daily calorie needs using this helpful tool.

Estimate your calorie needs

Recording calories: Do's and don'ts

Tracking your intake is an essential part of managing your weight. Here are some do's and don'ts for counting your calories:

Don't rely on memory

Whether you are on a diet or not, it is hard to remember everything that you eat during the day. You are more likely to get an accurate recording if you write down the calories in your meal before you sit down to eat. To do this you'll want to have a calorie tracking method that goes wherever you go. This might be a small notebook that you throw in your purse or an app on your smartphone.

Don't use guesswork to determine portion sizes

People tend to underestimate their food portions. Try to keep it accurate and measured. Find Your Balance offers handy tips and tools to help you get your portion sizes just right. 

Do invest in kitchen scales

Digital scales are essential to count calories accurately. Scales will help you measure exactly how big a serving size is. You don't have to use scales for every meal, but each time you eat a new food, weigh a portion so that you know how much to eat. When you know how many grams are in you’re serving, you’ll be able get the correct calorie count using the serving size information shown on the nutrition facts label.

Don't forget to record your snacks and nibbles

It’s easy to lose track of those extra snacks! And they quickly add up! Make a habit of noting everything. If it goes in your mouth; it gets noted down. Make this habit your rule for calorie counting. You might be surprised how the small nibbles throughout your day add up to a big change in your total daily caloric intake. Use an app to help…

Do download an app to count your calories

The best calorie tracking tool for you isn't necessarily the most expensive one, in fact, there are lots of free apps and tools:


Do find a tool that suits you

You may prefer an app on your smartphone or mobile device. Or if you like traditional pen and paper, a small notepad works well.

Calorie counting makes us mindful of what we eat. One paper-based tool is the NHS Weight Loss Plan. Food and activity charts will help you to record your daily activity and calorie consumption.

Download your NHS Weight Loss Plan

Do read the labels correctly

Be aware of the small print! Look at back-of-pack labelling which provides more information than the front- of- pack label. You can see how many calories are in 100g of the product, the number of calories per serving as well as a guide to the number of servings in the pack.

We’re here for you

Register to create your healthy living profile today and get personalised tips and support for your lifestyle goal. Consider how the support of our Wellness Coaching can help you take steps to manage your weight. A member of our coaching team can talk with you on the phone regularly, encouraging you to make and stick to your plan! Register and contact us to discuss coaching. 


How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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