How are you doing folks?

If you’re familiar with Perfect Manifesto, you’ll know how much I value health and fitness.

Something that may surprise you is – I’ve never been big on counting calories, but as I move further into the wrong side of thirty I’ve started treating it with more respect.

Yes, when you hit that Three-O you get to look forward to declining muscle, gaining fat more easily, and being more insulin resistant.

Therefore, understanding nutrition and calorie control is a necessary evil, as whether you like it or not you need to pay it attention, otherwise you will be at the mercy of weight fluctuations

If you’ve ever tried counting calories, you’ll know what an eye opening experience it can be – how little treats you take for granted cut into your recommended daily calorie allowance.

But it’s also a real pain in the arse and can be time consuming if you get into too much detail.

Which is why I’ve never been that bothered with the task, being confident that I do enough exercise to maintain my size.

But then Coronavirus hit…

Lockdown was a challenging time– the combination of having to stay inside, places shutting down, and easy access to a fridge full of food, created a lethal combination of weight gain for most of us.

Through home workouts, I managed to limit the damage to only gaining a few pounds, but since the gym reopen I decided I wanted to approach my nutrition with renewed vigour, giving it the respect it deserves.

But, I didn’t want it to turn into an industry tracking every fine detail – I have many other things to do, so I changed my approach.

If you’re struggling to shift the COVID-19 lbs then try this…


Firstly, establish the baseline – workout how many calories you have been consuming.

It might be difficult (and time consuming) to go back and workout everything you have eaten, so take two measures:

  • your average eating day
  • your average eating weekend (on account that most of us indulge more)

Estimate how many calories are in what you eat and drink (will detail how to get this next).

Once you do this, set a realistic daily deficit, something that you can stick to, based on what you currently consume.

Getting the information:

Read the labels…

The best way to work out calories is at source, tallying up as you go along rather than spending time at the end of the day working it out.

You’ll get some startling revelations when you realise how many calories are in your favourite product – I used to have a Goodness Shake – Recovery Shake everyday after a gym workout, until I look at the label and realised there was 323 calories for a 475ml serving!

323 calories!  For a chocolate milk drink that doesn’t even suppress the appetite!  I can eat 3 medium eggs and 3 ham slices, and I’m still better off by 59 calories!

What to do with confusing packaging…

Some packaging doesn’t tell you measures in how you consume it – with butter I can read what’s in a full pack or 100g, neither amount I’m certain I spread on my bagel!

Rather than get the scales and calculator out, do simple estimates, I assume I’ve had 10g of butter so break the calories down to that amount.

It doesn’t matter if your maths is completely accurate, as long as you are not way off!

No calories on packaging…

Items like fruit don’t generally come with nutritional information, so use tools like NutriCheck to find out.

You’ll find with these apps they may not meet your exact measures (what is large / medium / small?), again it’s a case of giving best estimates.

Simplifying counting calories…

Now my advice might sound quite a bit of work at this point.  It’s not intended to be, the simplification comes from how you approach it.

As you go about your day, tot up the estimated calories you consume – either in your head or on your phone.

Don’t record what you ate, just the calories consumed.

Remember as you tally this up the figures don’t need to be exact, as long as they are not way off – with this approach I’m assuming that my figures are 100 calories out in either direction.

The end goal is simple, each day you should aim to be within your desired deficit – no excuses!

Further simplification…

A way to make this even easier is have the same routine with what you eat – if you eat eggs for breakfast everyday then you become familiar how many calories this contains without needing to check.

There are probably further ways of making this approach even more simplified. If you have any thoughts, please do comments below.

Problems with results?

This way of counting calories may not give you the desired results (i.e. weight loss).

Simple questions to ask yourself are:

  • Are you being honest with how much you eat/drink?
  • Are you underestimating your calories?
  • Losing weight too quickly? (Overestimating your calories? Not accounting physical activity in your lifestyle?)
  • Are your fail days overcompensating your ‘win’ days? (If you cut an estimated 200 calories five days a week, but over eat at the weekend by 1200 calories, then you are not going to see results).

Closing thoughts…

I wrote this to inspire anyone who finds counting calories a burden – for best results I recommend any cut working alongside an exercise routine suitable to your abilities.

I recognise this approach will have it’s critics and not be the best approach for everyone – some will benefits more from recording and tracking calories in full detail.

If you have any doubts on implementing any of this approach, then I recommend seeking professional advice to support your goals.

Good luck.  Let me know how you get on!

Next post >> 5 Rules to Fitness Success

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7 thoughts on “Are You Struggling Counting Calories? Try This…

  1. it’s tough to find the right balance, but I think that if someone is committed to a healthy lifestyle they eventually find out what works for them – a combo of physical activity and conscious eating…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Once I became a vegan about 14 years ago, I became much more conscious of what I was eating. Still far from perfect, but much better than I sued to be….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great Post James, very informative.

    I’ve put on a few stones throughout lockdown period, this post will certainly be beneficial counting calories when the dieting starts once the kids are settled back into school and I can focus on exercise and healthier eating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s certainly effective and when combined with a regular exercise regime seems quite easy, though have to admit the restaurant deals in the UK have slowed my results a bit!

      Liked by 1 person

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