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How To Calculate The Calories In Food – A Few Simple Steps

It is simple to do actually, but as I was thinking about it a few days ago, I realized it does require a certain amount of dedication.  But if you’re serious about learning how to calculate the calories in food – the method I use works very well.

This exact method I’m about to share with you caused me to drop about 3% body fat and 12 pounds in just a few months.  In all truth, I wasn’t trying to lose weight, cause I always felt being 5″10 and 153 pounds was proportionate.  My goal was to drop body fat and get lean.  So, watching my weight drop by about 4 to 5 pounds each month was a bonus.

But none of this could have happened had I not figured out how to calculate my calorie needs, and then figure out how to actually track them daily.  As I mentioned before, this is simple to do, but it does require some minimal effort.  It’ll never be 100% accurate, but this method will give you much more accuracy than you’d have by not following it.

MyNetDiary App

If you want to learn to calculate calories properly, this app is probably the MOST important tool you can have.  Make sure to install it on your phone.  It’s free, and for our needs, you don’t need to pay for any upgrades.  BTW – I’ve also used MyFitnessPal, which does about the same thing, from what I can tell.  But I just use MyNetDiary, simply because I like the layout of the platform.

This app will calculate the calories for so many different foods, it’s pretty insane.  If you eat out at a lot of chain restaurants regularly, it’s so easy to input information  Even if you don’t eat out at chain restaurants, you can get a good idea of how many calories you’re taking in from other restaurants too, or even if you head out to eat at a friend’s house.

First, let’s say you ate a Big Mac and a large fry from McDonald’s today for lunch.  You’d log into the app, and search for “McDonald’s Big Mac”, log it.  Then you’d search for “McDonald’s Large Fry” and log it too.  As you can see from the picture attached, the top left pic shows the Big Mac calories.  The top right pic shows the large fries calories.  The lower left pic shows your total lunch calories.  And the lower right pic shows how many calories you’ve eaten for the day and how many you have left to eat, based on your daily calorie budget.  

The app also has a scanner that will scan any food you have with a barcode on the package.  So, if you want a Snickers bar, just scan it, and it goes into the app.  If you want a few slices of bacon, just scan the package, and enter 2 slices of bacon into the app.  It’s very rare that an item I have in my fridge or cabinet is not listed in the app.  MyNetDiary seems to recognize foods from all major grocery stores, from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, to Aldi, and that includes generic items AND name brand items.

But, let’s say you eat out at a restaurant with friends and this restaurant is NOT in the MyNetDiary app.  You can do some math.  Let’s say you order a 10 ounce new york strip steak.  Well, I just go into the app and enter new york strip steak, and enter 10 ounces.  If you got mashed potatoes with it, it might be hard to gauge exactly how many calories that has.

So, what I do is choose a popular restaurant that serves mashed potatoes, and use that as a benchmark that I enter into the app.  In general, I’ve noticed that most dinners at restaurants that include a protein and a carb, with veggies are around 1000 – 1500 calories.

But that’s a complicated example and a situation that I rarely encounter.  And even if I DO encounter it, I’ve got a pretty good idea of how much I’m putting into my body, but that’s also cause I’ve learned a lot about food calories by owning a food scale, which leads us to the next section.

This is a side note for when you really don’t know how to calculate the amount of calories in a certain food, but I’ve seen information online that says that 100 calories is about the size of your palm.  A clenched fist equals about one cup.  The tip of your thumb to the base of your thumb is about one tablespoon.  Here’s a pic I found online that can help you when you’re in a calorie jam 🙂

The next section of this article will actually help you get a better idea of how many calories are in foods.

Food Scale

It’s amazing just how off I’ve been for YEARS at measuring food calories.  It makes perfect sense now why, for so long I was struggling to get defined, and why within only a few months I dropped body fat and weight both, seemingly with very little effort.

If you truly want to accurately track calories, invest in a food scale.  This is especially useful if you cook a lot.  This is the scale that I own.  It’s very inexpensive and it has been a game changer in my own life, and I consider it to be one of the major reasons I started hitting my fitness goals so easily. 

If you’re going to cook a chicken breast, just put it on the scale (before you cook it), find out how many ounces it is, and go into the MyNetDiary app and enter the info.  If the chicken breast you’re about to cook weighs 11.43 ounces for instance, enter 11.43 ounces into the app.  You’ll see that 11.43 ounces of chicken breast is 350 calories.  It’s really that simple.  You can do this for just about any food.  You can do this with fruits, potatoes, vegetables, and just about anything else.

But what I’ve learned just by owning this food scale, is that I’ve been measuring foods, ESPECIALLY meats, inaccurately for years.  The same chicken breast I mentioned above, I used to think in my head, oh that’s about 150 calories, and log that on a sheet.  So I’d end up eating 200 calories over what I thought I was eating.

Also, when you measure meat, ALWAYS measure its calories BEFORE cooking it.  Meat loses weight after being cooked, and if you calculate the calories after it’s cooked, you’re calorie intake will be much higher.  Always do this with pork, chicken, beef, steak, and any other meat.

I Don’t Track Vegetable Calories

I don’t track veggie calories, because for the most part, the amount of calories they have are minimal.  Now, if they’re super starchy vegetables, like corn, then yes I do.  Cause corn does have a lot of calories in it.  But lettuce, onions, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.. I personally don’t count them.  You can, but you’ll see that a whole cup of spinach has only 7 calories in it, and to me, it’s just not worth my time and effort to calculate all that.  If you’re drenching your veggies in butter and cheese, well, I’d just calculate the butter and cheese.  But that’s what I personally do.

If Your Goal Is To Lose Weight – Track Your Calories!

This website is dedicated to teaching people to get into shape and hit their fitness goals.  The information you’ll find on many other pages come from methods I’ve tested myself to work for me.  And if you want to drop body fat and lose weight, I cannot stress enough just how important it is for you to track your calories properly.

Most importantly, you want to eat at a calorie deficit, one that is realistic and one that will help you progressively lose weight with ease and simplicity.  Tracking calories is the game changer for this.  It’s NOT about eating low carb, low fat, or low anything.  Just track your calories properly.  You can learn more about this here.

That’s How I Track Calories Daily

It may seem slightly tedious, but really, it takes just a few minutes extra per day to do.  Once you learn how to calculate the calories in food and begin implementing the strategies taught here, you’ll notice it’s just a tiny investment of time that can do wonders for your health and fitness, especially if your goal is to drop body fat and lose weight.

The MyNetDiary app combined with a digital food scale are the two things I use to track my progress.

I’ll say one last thing that I use is a digital body fat scale, which is just a regular bathroom scale, with extra features, the most important one being that it tracks your body fat over time.  I feel that it has held me accountable in hitting my fitness goals.  This is the one I personally use.

I hope this article was helpful and I hope you learned how simple it can be to learn how to track calories efficiently.  If you have any feedback on calorie tracking methods that you’ve personally tried or any questions about my method, please leave your comments below.  Thank you for reading!

4 thoughts on “How To Calculate The Calories In Food – A Few Simple Steps”

  1. Thank you for mentioning NetDiary App. I’ve been struggling for calculating calories in my diet since it’s really troublesome to google everything that I want to eat. Does the app also have the function to record what I eat every day? (I think it should have as a ‘diary’ app, but I just want to confirm it). This is actually very useful. Thanks

    1. Yes, that’s one of the best things about the app!  It records all the foods you eat throughout the day, and even gives you a grade at the end of the day, letting you know if the quality of your overall food intake was good or not so good.  But yes, let’s say you have to eat 2000 calories a day, then you input that number into the app, and it tracks all your food throughout the day until you hit that goal.  Thank you for the comment!

  2. This is such an amazing information. I have never read  about this kind of information before about MyNetDiary, never knew it’s possible to measure food calories even after consumption. This is a great stuff. It has a scanner that scans any food you have with a barcode on the package. Thank you for sharing this wonderful information with us on this platform

    1. Hi Sharon – thank you for the comment – and yes, it’s amazing what apps can do now to help you reach your fitness goals.  The scanner is one of my favorite features of the app.

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