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How To Count Calories In Food For Health And Weight Loss

Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen · Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 01, 2022

    How To Count Calories In Food For Health And Weight Loss

    Have you recently decided to count your calories daily to better manage your health and weight? Are you worried about not doing it correctly? If so, this quick guide can help you. In this article, we’ll talk about how to count calories in food without too many complications. 

    How To Count Calories In Food For Health And Weight Loss

    If you’re confused about the steps to take on how to count calories in food for your health and weight loss, consider this guide:

    1. Determine the daily calorie target for you to maintain your weight

    A common mistake some people make when counting calories is they simply reduce their food intake to reach a calorie target they believe is right. 

    However, remember that each person is different. The calorie target your friend recommended is most definitely not yours to follow. 

    A simple way to determine the daily calorie target to maintain your weight is through these steps:

    • Get your weight in pounds (eg. 185 pounds) 
    • Multiply your weight by 15 (eg. 185 x 15 = 2775)


    This calculation is generally for people who are moderately active. That means you perform about 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, like brisk walking, active gardening, climbing stairs, etc.

    2. Determine your goal: Maintain, lose, or gain? 

    In our example, 2,775 calories is the base daily target to maintain your current weight. If you’re happy with it and don’t wish to lose or gain weight, better stick to 2,775. 

    However, if you want to gain weight, the safe rate is about 1 to 2 pounds weekly. You can achieve it by adding 300 to 500 calories to your base daily target. 

    If you decide to lose weight, though, you need to consume about 500 to 1,000 less than the base daily target. In our example, that translates to 1,775 to 2,275 calories daily. 

    3. Use different methods to count calories in food

    It may seem like a huge, complicated task, but in reality, counting calories can be smooth sailing. Consider these methods:

    • Read food labels For meal preparation or quick snacks, check the food labels so you’ll readily know the calories you’re getting. 
    • Be mindful of the portion size. Many items (packed snacks, canned goods, etc.) have two servings in them. Consuming them all means you’re getting double the amount of calories. 
    • Download calorie tracking apps. There are numerous apps that can help you identify how many calories are in a certain food. The apps can also keep a record of what you’ve eaten, so you are less likely to go beyond your target. 

    4. Remember: the quality of foods matter 

    More than learning how to count calories in food, you must remember that the quality of food matters. 

    Two food items may have the same (or almost the same) amount of calories but contain different nutrients. 

    A can of soft drinks, for instance, can have about 140 calories but has nothing but sugar in it. A small piece of fruit and roughly 10 pieces of nuts have about 150 calories, but they can offer you vitamins and minerals. 

    6. Take your physical activity into account

    As mentioned earlier, the computation assumes that you are moderately active. If you are less active or very active, you have to take that into account.

    If you have concerns over your target, nutrition, and physical activity, it’s best to consult a doctor. After all, the steps on how to count calories in food are also affected by factors such as your age, current health status, gender, etc. 

    Key Takeaways

    How to count calories in food? The first step is to get your weight-maintaining target and adjust it accordingly to your goal. Use various methods to count calories and don’t forget that the quality of food and physical activity matter.

    Learn more about Healthy Eating here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Expertly reviewed by

    Chris Icamen

    Dietetics and Nutrition

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 01, 2022

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