Do you also know this? No matter who you ask, everyone has a different opinion about losing weight and especially a different secret weapon – but does it really exist? The one strategy that is better than all the others?
I can tell you directly, all diets are based on one and the same principle: a calorie deficit
We lose weight because we eat fewer calories than we consume.
So the reason why we lose weight with a low carb diet is not the fact that we hardly eat any carbohydrates. But that we create a calorie deficit.
And once we internalize that, we are suddenly free!
We can choose for ourselves how we want to lose weight and what form of diet we choose.
My tip: Always choose a diet that you can see yourself sticking to permanently (ideally forever).
If you want to start with low carb, ketogenic o.a. you like the dishes and enjoy doing it – go ahead. Then this is the right diet for you.
Advantages of calorie counting
Personally, the easiest way for me is to count calories (tracking) – by counting calories it is possible to plan for all the foods you like. It is incredibly flexible and adapts to YOU (not vice versa)
- By counting calories you know exactly why a diet works (or doesn’t)
- Calorie counting also allows sweets etc as they are specifically planned for
- Tracking teaches you about food – what’s healthy, what’s not?
- Weight fluctuations no longer panic you
What do I need for calorie counting?
The great thing is that you can start counting calories right away – and it’s free of charge. The only thing we have to do is to read up a bit and make the effort to weigh and track the food as well. I even find that counting calories and juggling macros is totally fun – so don’t be afraid of it!
The easiest way is to have 2 things:
- Digital kitchen scale (preferably one with a "step" in it, then it’s easier to read the weight when there’s a plate on it)
- App for calorie counting (my recommendations are coming soon)
Which app to use for calorie counting?
My alltime recommendation is fddb extender – I find it simply the best and also in the basic version well usable. In the Pro version you can also set goals for protein, fat and carbohydrates – which I find very useful.
I like the app because the database is great and there are not umpteen entries for one and the same food. With other apps I have often found wrong data – if you know your way around it’s not a problem, but if you don’t such wrong entries can make your deficit there.
But of course there are other good apps: Yazio offers z.B. even recipes in the Pro version and Myfitnesspal is also a consideration.
Attention: What I would never recommend is to rely on the calorie targets in the apps. Partly the apps put you on a really crass crash diet and we don’t want that.
Here I would always recommend to calculate with the calories individually and then set the target value.
Calculate calorie requirements to lose weight
The most accurate way to calculate your calories is to use the Miflin St. Jeor formula in combination with the PAL value hernehmt.
For a quick check, I also recommend the calorie requirement calculator from science-fitness.de
What you get there as calorie requirement is your total calorie consumption (power metabolism or power requirement). To lose weight we have to subtract a deficit from it, which we save daily
Start counting calories – this is how it works
First of all I would think Actual state watch, that means just 1-3 days to weigh everything and track what you eat. So that you know in the first place whether you tend to eat too little, too much or just right.
For this you proceed like this:
- Everything you eat is weighed (not estimated)
- With "ready" food or if you eat the whole package of a food. Can you also enter the calories using the barcode scanner in the app
Of course, you should eat as normal as possible, so as you do it normally. Tracking a day when you are invited to a birthday party at your grandma’s house, where you tend to eat more than usual, is just as inaccurate as tracking a day when you are hardly hungry and eat very little.
After that you can draw a conclusion – ask yourself the following questions:
- How high is my consumption and how much did I actually eat?
- What is my goal (lose weight, gain weight, keep weight)?
- How do I have to adjust my diet for this
Raw or cooked? How to track food correctly?
I get this question so often – do you track pasta, rice, etc. raw or cooked?
It does not matter! You must only pay attention that you take the correct values.
100g noodles (raw) = ca. 354 calories
100g noodles (cooked) = ca. 150 calories
This is not because calories "disappear" through cooking, but because there is water in the cooked pasta.
I prefer to track the food raw, this is the most accurate and I also recommend this in my coaching sessions.
Track with or without shell?
With vegetables etc. you track exactly what you also eat. I once invented such a stupid saying, but it helps to remember:
So you eat an apple with skin but without the skin you don’t track that either. If you eat a chicken leg and leave the bones logically…do not track them.
This is quite simple in practice, weigh the food once before and then the "leftovers" afterwards. Enter the difference.
Calorie counting – how many meals are allowed?
We are completely free here – we have no defaults. Because it depends on the deficit it doesn’t matter if we reach the deficit with 2,4 or 6 meals.
However, I must say that I am not an advocate of "snacking all the time" – I prefer to recommend 2-3 real meals and a snack.
But 2-3 snacks spread throughout the day simply do not have to be, our body also needs a break sometimes to digest.
In addition, the snacks of course take the calories away from the real meals, so that at the end of the day you won’t be really full from any meal.
But this is my opinion and everyone can of course decide for themselves – again: The deficit decides!
This also applies to the time when we take in the calories. I save my calories i.D.R. for the evening on, since I have there most hunger.
Counting calories& Eating out – is it possible?
Of course you can also go out to eat while losing weight – with a few tricks this is totally easy. It is best to choose dishes that are easy to "break down", for example:
- Steak& Oven vegetables
- Fish& Salad
- Baked potato& Herbal curd cheese
Always have the dressing or sauces served separately, most of the time you don’t even need as much as comes with it.
And then you enter it generously in your app, rather a little more then you are on the safe side.
And if one can track evenly nevertheless times not exactly – on the next day it goes again normally, thus is nevertheless no problem&
One of my favorite tools is Calorie Cycling, where you can save calories for a specific day. If you want to know more read this post (incl. several example weeks)
This is what you can do
If nothing at all happens despite counting, we have to go troubleshooting.
The most common – as well as most banal – reason is: we’re not in deficit at all
Sources of error when counting calories
- Some foods are not tracked (z.B. try cooking)
- It is roughly estimated instead of weighed
- Calorie requirements have been overestimated and are in fact lower
I have summarized many other reasons for you here: https://fruehlingszwiebel.com/why-don’t-I-lose-calories/
I bet some of this is true for some of you, right?? If not, we are not at the end of our rope yet, especially if we are in deficit for a longer time, a refeed can help to get the weight loss going again:
Refeeds at diet standstill
If everything is to be shot out, we are still not at the end and can continue to research:
- Is one already very long on diet and has also already lost weight
- the calorie intake is sometimes very low
- Does stress play a big role?
Then a refeed can help – in a refeed the body’s stores are replenished. It gets new energy and is again willing to let go of fat.
Here you can find a tutorial: https://fruehlingszwiebel.com/refeed-day-instruction/
If you have been in deficit for a very long time and very strictly, it can also help to increase the metabolism again. More exercise, more food and that for a longer time and then start a new attempt with a lower deficit :).
Caput metabolism causes dieting standstill?
One often hears about a metabolism that has fallen asleep – and even if our metabolism itself cannot fall asleep, there can be adjustments that our body makes. Possible reasons can be:
- Thyroid not working properly (can account for up to 300 calories a day)
- Nutrients are not completely absorbed (z.B. Problems with microbiome, food preparation)
Of course, there are not only benefits, for some people calorie counting is not the way to go, because
- you can feel stressed if you can’t track something
- it takes some effort in the beginning
- you are responsible for your own success
Counting calories forever – is that necessary??
Many are afraid of having to count calories forever. There I can calm you down directly – you do not have to!
I have now very few phases in which I track exactly – mostly I eat by feeling. But I always recommend (as long as you don’t have a disturbed relationship to food) to track your calories for a few weeks. You simply learn a lot about healthy nutrition and your own eating behavior.
And then when we have acquired the knowledge, we can move on without exact counting and weighing (z.B. to keep the weight).
Then we have in mind which foods we can plan to use generously and for which we might prefer to use a little less.
If we have then also dealt with the nutritional values of the food – i.e. protein, fat and carbohydrate content – the perfect basis is laid.
What is also a super help is the principle of energy density. This says how many calories are in 1 gram of food. For example, a cucumber has an extremely low energy density – a Big Mac tends to have a high energy density (i.e., lots of calories in a small volume).
I hope you enjoy my great guide to counting calories :). Feel free to write me a comment under this post here if you have any questions or feedback. Some topics will certainly be covered again in separate blogposts, but for a first overview I think this is very useful&