Hacks for easy calorie counting

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Replies

  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 26,879 Member
    I've been counting for just over 6 years. I don't know any easy hacks, though. Frankly, I haven't found it hard at all, so it didn't occur to me to look for hacks.

    I weigh foods (usually using the method: put jar/chunk on scale, tare, take out some, read the negative); I note them on a piece of junk mail to log after eating; I've saved common combos of food as meals, then tweak quantities in my diary after pulling in the meal.

    Occasionally, when eating at a non-chain restaurant or someone's home, I have to estimate/ballpark, and that's fine, too.

    The whole concept of eating differently than I prefer to eat, just to make it easier to calorie count? Just *no*.

    I'd observe that the process feels more difficult, time-consuming and fussy right at first . . . but other experiences have taught me that that's how it feels when learning something new, even something that will be easy once I get the hang of it. It didn't take long for calorie counting to be pretty easy.
    Lietchi wrote: »
    It might help to have a little introspection here. A person who wants to lose weight and chooses CICO as the science to believe in, has one choice - count calories. Having said that, avoiding the calorie counting process is just another form of denial or aversion. My favorite psychologist often said: "if you want to know what a person wants, deep down, what they really, really want, just look at what they have because people get exactly what they want." If you don't want to count calories you either don't really want to lose or you don't really believe the science.

    Calorie counting has been great for me. But it would be really short-sighted to presume it's the ONLY way to lose weight. You can believe in CICO and choose another path than calorie counting to achieve a caloric deficit.

    What would that be?

    Choosing to skip certain meals, eliminating snacks, reducing portions, choosing lower calorie versions of things or reducing/eliminating high calorie items, are all options to reduce one's intake. More exercise, of any kind, is a way to increase your calorie burn. Doing those things has been more than sufficient for some people in the past when you couldn't get the level of precision we can now, and there are some successful posters here now who use those methods too. I like the precision of calorie counting so I do it that way, especially since I've gone overboard in the past when I wasn't as precise and ended up really undereating (and getting burned out), but it really is sufficient for some people.

    Some people keep their houses clean without a cleaning schedule and don't need a planner to avoid being late. I think those people are amazing and I am not one of them - I gotta write it down. But I'm not going to say they really don't care about it because they don't do it my way. I will suggest to people who struggle with those things to write it down because that's how I've made it work for me.

    OK, so in your World, calories count but you don't have to count calories. You just guess at them because you have skipped a meal or whatnot. Got it.

    It's been practical to count calories since there were apps to do it, though I guess one could argue it's theoretically possible from lists/books. Having tried to do that pre-internet . . . it's not practical. I think the apps started coming out in the early 2000s, maybe a little earlier, but not much?

    Calories as the mechanism behind weight gain/loss have been known to nutritional science since the first half of the 1800s, and to quite a few regular humans since the early 1900s at least.

    Humans have used the knowledge of calories to lose weight for at least a century, before there were truly practical ways to count them. Those methods still work. You're right, they're imprecise by comparison, but they worked then, and they work now.

    It isn't just penguinmama's world where one doesn't *have* to count calories, to use the concept of calorie balance to lose weight.

    I'd rather calorie count, personally. 🤷‍♀️
  • lorib642
    lorib642 Posts: 1,942 Member
    coderdan82 wrote: »
    Thanks to everyone that replied. I'm actually not new to this, I've tried and failed several times before. And I think I failed because I was trying to eat same as before (in lower quantities of course) which made calorie counting complicated. From the responses it seems like my meals will have to become a bit more repetitive if I want to sustain this. I don't think I'll go the junk/proceeded good route, it just doesn't seem very healthy, but maybe things like using sliced cheese where the calories are known per sliced instead of a brick of cheese that I have to weigh, or small buns instead of loaf of bread, etc.
    You don’t have to be repetitious or change food unless you want to. I save recipes because I do repeat meals. If you have a food scale, weighing things like cheese and nuts does not take very long. I don’t want you to think you have to deprive yourself to do this. If you are organized you can plan and log meals ahead. That is not me, but people do it. I don’t like your friend’s hack that counting calories in processed food is somehow easier. Not when you have mfp which can calculate most food. And I would not call it a failure. It is hard to lose weight and keep it off. And you are trying again which is great.
  • wilson10102018
    wilson10102018 Posts: 1,306 Member
    There are a lot of diet plans and a lot of advocates for every one of them. CICO is just one of many. People say they have lost weight on the grapefruit diet or Mediterranean, or Keto or fasting. Not caring a whit about the number of calories. I'm happy for them.

    But, if a person embraces the science that the number of calories consumed being less than the calories expended or expelled as the methodology for weight loss, then the implementation of that is to count calories. End of story.

    No one has to count calories. But, if they don't then they are either not adopting CICO as their weight loss method or they are in denial as to their real goal. We could tiptoe around it to avoid hurting feelings, but I think it needed saying. And, its not controversial until someone who is in denial reads it, and blames the messenger.
  • glassyo
    glassyo Posts: 7,069 Member
    gorple76 wrote: »
    Personally, right now, I’m embracing the inaccuracies inherent in calorie counting. I’m logging everything, I’m weighing what is easy to weigh in that moment, but estimating where I can’t weigh or where, frankly, I don’t want to weigh because of time or effort. However, I am fully aware that at some point this might stop working and I’ll have to tighten up. Right now though, this is working for me. And is certainly a more accurate approach than the one I took before which was ‘eat all the things and then despair when my jeans don’t fit’. I suspect eventually I’ll end up with a fairly tight, accurate counting approach, but going straight to that seems too much of a leap. Eating processed food to sidestep the need to weigh or guess is missing the whole point for me. Taking a rough averaged figure for an apple which I can’t be bothered to weigh is always going to be better than eating the processed cookie which may have a more accurate calorie count attached to it but offers little in nutritional worth surely?

    You can gain weight eating too many "nutritional worth" calories just as easily as the "no nutrition here" calories in a cookie.

    But, yeah, whatever works until it doesn't anymore.
  • glassyo
    glassyo Posts: 7,069 Member
    gorple76 wrote: »
    @glassyo you’re right - my use of the word ‘always’ towards the end there was a little strong. I think what I’m trying to say is that the full-on weigh and count everything can be daunting and, for me at least, unnecessary at first. And the thought of needing to take such a comprehensive approach has put me off in the past. Calorie counting will always have errors anyway and for me (who can be all or nothing about things) accepting that rough logging is good enough as long as my weight is responding as I hope, is a big step. I’ve gone down the route of using shakes and bars because it seemed easier and failed miserably. Eating processed food because of ease of counting is a similar mindset to that.

    LOL I'm very protective about my cookies. :)

    I'm no longer in weight loss mode but I totally envy anyone who can achieve their goals...more intuitively than I can. My stomach is much bigger than my eyes so I'll always need to weigh and log.

    I pretty much lost most of my weight (first on weight watchers and then by counting calories) eating fast food, frozen dinners, and lots of cookies and chocolate so definitely a different experience than you. :)
  • wilson10102018
    wilson10102018 Posts: 1,306 Member
    As usual, the arguments against calorie counting emphasize the extremes to prove the point that counting is not a necessary part of a diet plan based on a numerical value of caloric deficit. Its like saying I'm not going to record my expenditures in the checkbook or evaluate my credit card bills because I refuse to count every penny I spend.

    Just another excuse for not facing the truth.
  • coderdan82
    coderdan82 Posts: 84 Member
    edited August 2021
    Oh my goodness, what a heated debate this has started!

    I haven't seen anyone here disagree with the fact (and it is a fact) that it's impossible to lose weight without a caloric deficit so let's not even argue over that. There have definitely been people that have maintained a caloric deficit without counting calories - and, for sure, some that failed. Is it really worth debating?

    I'm not trying to avoid counting, I'm trying to make it easier. It makes food prep a pain and I find that a lot of it is ambiguous (ex. You pan fry a chicken thigh. How much oil did it absorb? There's 3 different options in MFP for it each with a different nutritional breakdown, which one do choose?, etc). It also doesn't allow eating anything that you can't count like when someone makes you something.
  • MargaretYakoda
    MargaretYakoda Posts: 1,944 Member
    As usual, the arguments against calorie counting emphasize the extremes to prove the point that counting is not a necessary part of a diet plan based on a numerical value of caloric deficit. Its like saying I'm not going to record my expenditures in the checkbook or evaluate my credit card bills because I refuse to count every penny I spend.

    Just another excuse for not facing the truth.

    Now we’re talking a method I understand completely.

    Budgeting.

    I like the YNAB program.
    Yes, one rule is “give every dollar a job”
    But sometimes people get hung up over finding a tiny error.
    .05¢
    It’s not worth it to others to spend half an hour or more tracking that down.

    Some people go so far as to not count anything under a dollar. Rounding up or down as needed.

    And some people have dollars assigned to a “fun money” category, which isn’t on budget anymore once the dollars are assigned to that category (categories in YNAB are basically envelopes for those familiar with that old school method)

    No one says assigning dollars a job is bad.
    But if rounding, or putting some dollars in a non-tracked section of the budget works for some people? More power to them.
    As long as they’re still budgeting.

  • penguinmama87
    penguinmama87 Posts: 1,046 Member
    coderdan82 wrote: »
    Oh my goodness, what a heated debate this has started!

    I haven't seen anyone here disagree with the fact (and it is a fact) that it's impossible to lose weight without a caloric deficit so let's not even argue over that. There have definitely been people that have maintained a caloric deficit without counting calories - and, for sure, some that failed. Is it really worth debating?

    I'm not trying to avoid counting, I'm trying to make it easier. It makes food prep a pain and I find that a lot of it is ambiguous (ex. You pan fry a chicken thigh. How much oil did it absorb? There's 3 different options in MFP for it each with a different nutritional breakdown, which one do choose?, etc). It also doesn't allow eating anything that you can't count like when someone makes you something.

    Well, it's not a matter of "not allowing," just accepting that sometimes you will be able to be more precise than other times. I prepare and eat most of my own food, but still socialize or occasionally go out to a restaurant. And then I make my best guess and go about my day. The weight still comes off about as I expect it will.

    Much of the food I eat does not come with labels. I often use the SR Legacy food database here: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-search which has been copied into the MFP database. Or, I substitute in a particular brand - I buy flour and other grains locally, but when I build recipes I use a brand that is probably pretty close but not exact. But I consistently use that brand every time I enter that ingredient, so it will suit my purposes just fine.
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,616 Member
    edited August 2021
    As usual, the arguments against calorie counting emphasize the extremes to prove the point that counting is not a necessary part of a diet plan based on a numerical value of caloric deficit. Its like saying I'm not going to record my expenditures in the checkbook or evaluate my credit card bills because I refuse to count every penny I spend.

    Just another excuse for not facing the truth.

    Now we’re talking a method I understand completely.

    Budgeting.

    I like the YNAB program.
    Yes, one rule is “give every dollar a job”
    But sometimes people get hung up over finding a tiny error.
    .05¢
    It’s not worth it to others to spend half an hour or more tracking that down.

    Some people go so far as to not count anything under a dollar. Rounding up or down as needed.

    And some people have dollars assigned to a “fun money” category, which isn’t on budget anymore once the dollars are assigned to that category (categories in YNAB are basically envelopes for those familiar with that old school method)

    No one says assigning dollars a job is bad.
    But if rounding, or putting some dollars in a non-tracked section of the budget works for some people? More power to them.
    As long as they’re still budgeting.

    Yeaaah, shocking news but when I budget my money I round up to the next dollar for 25 cents or more over a dollar, and down to the next dollar for < 25 cents, too. Few times a year I sweep the 'overage' (and with that rounding there's always some) into 'fun' saving, too.

    Still works.