Why Does Calorie Counting Work?

People often wonder why they aren’t losing weight while working so hard and sticking to their diet. The answer is quite simple, and it has to do with the most fundamental principle of weight control. It revolves, unsurprisingly, around calories. And at A Lean Life, we know that tracking calories help.

Why does counting calories work?

There are many methods for measuring energy and various forms of energy. One of them is heat, and the term calorie is derived from the Latin word cor, which means “heat.” Calories are a unit of measurement for the amount of energy needed to produce a certain quantity of heat.

How Many Calories Are in a Pound of Fat?

One pound of fat has 3,500 calories. So, if you want to set a solid weight loss goal of 1 pound per week for 16 weeks, you would need to be in a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories per week for 16 weeks. Very feasible.

Here’s a good method to do it:

Sunday through Thursday (“school nights”):

Aim for a calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories each day.

Friday and Saturday are “cheat days”:

On these two days, aim for a 500 calorie surplus.

If you stick to this simple plan, you’ll be in the range of a 3,500 calorie deficit over the course of a week.


Calorie Counting

Counting Calories Is Effective

Counting calories is the most effective method to ensure that you are tracking your calories. And it’s a lot simpler than you think. More significantly, your calorie count does not have to be flawless!

It must be close and your best honest guess based on the information you have and will gather over time. And honesty is essential, as many individuals err on the side of caution to feel as if they have more space to eat. This is not the best strategy! Being truthful will serve you well.

What makes it simpler is that most individuals eat a lot of the same foods every week. You eat your favorites. Once you’ve calculated these calories, you’ll be 90% of the way there. You’ll soon believe that counting calories work…like a charm.

So here’s an example of a normal diet for someone wanting to lose weight:


50 calories per orange or banana

Low-Fat Yogurt — 100 calories

1 cup whole-grain cereal with skim milk – 200 calories


Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad (no croutons) — 500 calories

Snack in the Afternoon

Protein Bar — 150 calories


Grilled chicken breast — 300 calories

Black beans and brown rice — 400 calories

Steamed Veggies — 100 calories


And if you have a Fitbit, which we strongly recommend, you will know exactly how many calories you burn each day.

So, between calorie counting and the Fitbit tracker, you can have a highly accurate calorie deficit every day!

The Best Calorie Counter (Calories Burned)

We recommend the Fitbit Ionic as a wrist calorie tracker. It’s waterproof up to 50m, so it’s suitable not only for running but also for swimming. It’s a fantastic tracker that you can sync with your smartphone to track your daily calories burned. It also tracks steps, miles, heart rate, and other data. You can also customize the face with hundreds of different options.

What Does Your BMR Indicate?

There is a cell on the download sheet labeled “My Daily BMR.” Your daily BMR is your basal metabolic rate. This is a good guide to tell you how many calories you’ll burn based on your body size and daily activity.

Use the BMR calculator to get a good estimate of how many calories you’ll burn in a typical day. When compared to counting calories from the food you consume, you’ll have a very good idea of your daily surplus or deficit. (1)

BMR Calculator

Don’t believe diets that claim calories don’t matter.

Many professionals will tell you that you don’t need to count calories and that eating certain foods will allow you to eat whatever you want while still losing weight. That is simply not sustainable in the long run. You must first understand your calorie requirements and then determine how many calories you require daily to achieve your weight goals. Learn more about your basic calorie requirements here.

We consume calories in almost every food and drink we consume and use that energy to fuel our bodies. Consuming calories allows us to maintain body heat, cell function, and respiratory muscles. As a result, we have a basal calorie requirement to keep us alive and breathing. We also have the calories we burn when we engage in any type of physical activity.

So, how does calorie counting work?

Because if we do not expend the same amount of energy that we consume, it is stored in the body. We can achieve a negative calorie balance by applying the same principle. It is based on consuming fewer calories than we use daily. The result is always weight loss.

Similarly, if you want to gain weight, you must consume more calories. And, depending on the type of food you eat and the amount of physical activity you engage in, you may gain weight from muscle mass or fat. That is why, regardless of your fitness goals, calorie counting is essential. (2)

But, if losing weight is so simple, why do so many people struggle with obesity?

Because they rely on diets written and designed for someone else, and they do not attempt to count or track their calories. They believe that counting calories are synonymous with becoming obsessed and that weighing foods takes a significant amount of time and effort.

An Easier Way to Keep Track of Your Calories

Counting calories would be difficult if you had to look up every ingredient, perform calculations, and write down numbers every day. But this is not the case. Nowadays, we have calorie-tracking apps to track how many calories you consume, as well as others, such as Fitbit, to track how many calories you burn.

That way, you’ll only need to enter the type of activity, the time, and the amount of food you’re eating (in grams, number of slices, cups, and many other easy measures). Calorie counting is effective, but it does not have to become an obsession.

If you’re counting calories, the last step is to match the calories you eat with the calories you burn. Maintain your diet and aim for a 400-calorie deficit. If you haven’t seen results after two weeks, increase your calorie deficit by 200 calories per week until you reach a maximum of one pound lost per week.

Keep in mind that your weight will be affected by factors such as hydration (water retention) and muscle gain. So, don’t become obsessed with balance and have your body measured regularly. If you follow this advice, you will discover that counting calories work for you as well.


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