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How to Count Calories With Your Eyes

Nov 2, 2007
Embarking on a serious fitness quest or even a journey to just be healthy can sometimes be a daunting task. And at some point, you've been told or heard that eating 5-6 frequent small meals a day is the way to go for weight gain or weight loss.

After running a fitness site and bodybuilding forum, I see a lot of confused individuals who ask this very question below about the 5-6 meal deal. They have heard about it and want to do it but when it comes to counting calories, they are not willing to measure each grain of rice.

And can you blame them?

Many times people will ask, "I know all that stuff like I need to eat 5-6 meal a day, eat less than your daily maintenance caloric and stuff like that... But what I do not know is how big the meal has to be?"

Despite what you may have heard... eating 5-6 times a day it's not that hard. It takes some discipline but it's not all that difficult and you certainly do not eat 5-6 large, American style meals. These are small, frequent meals that comprise what is termed a complete meal (protein, carb, sometimes healthy fat).

But let me go back to the beginning to continue the story...

Here's what you do:

1- Figure out how many calories per day you need to
gain/maintain/lose weight

2- Start tracking with any online nutritional tracking program.

3- Eye ball your portions. You know you had some brown rice
right? Get out a cup. Look at it. If you practice this,
you'll soon be able to eat, look at your place and just know.. that is about a cup of brown rice.

You don't have to physically measure your foods. I suppose you could but that wouldn't work so well when you eat out, go to a friends out and such. Who wants to carry around a complete set of measuring cups and spoons?

So you will need to look at measurement devices like a cup, a quarter cup and such and be able to eye ball things. Once you do this a few times at home, you will be able to visually look at a plate of food and roughly guess the portions. Once you know the portions...

Then you know how much you should enter into a calorie calculator tracking program.

And at the end of the day any good program will show what you ate in calories, protein, carbs and fats. And you'll be able to see this displayed in a graph so you know if your ratios are correct (assuming you are into or have any interested in ratios).

I personally don't carry around a cup or any type of measuring devices. But I know if I go out to eat that the chicken on my place is about the size of the palm of my hand.. times two...

.. the palm of my hand is roughly 3 ounces.

I can eye ball that chicken breast and guess it's about 6 maybe 7 ounces of chicken.

Are you getting my point?

Follow those steps above. Once you know how much you need to eat in terms of calories, you will be able to do whatever you want.

Then eat, and eye ball your portions. Quickly you will learn that in order to hit your daily calories, maybe you don't want to eat 2 cups of brown rice as it's too much. Or maybe not enough. But you can judge this and track it and that is how you will know.

Then track it. If you don't track what you eat, then you are only guessing. And those who guess get frustrated because those who guess do not know. That is why it's called guessing. So if you simply cannot or won't track, you'll always be frustrated and confused. Unless of course, you track it for the first day and forever on, eat the same portions and foods. Yuck!

The biggest mistake I see people making is:

1- They have not ever figured out the math to calculate their calories
2- They do not track what they eat
3- So they just do whatever and get whatever

If you follow the above three steps, you are almost guaranteed not to make the same mistakes that most other people make when it comes to reaching their fitness goals.
About the Author
Marc David is a bodybuilder and author of the, Beginner's Guide to Fitness and Bodybuilding. You can get info on Marc's e-book at: Beginning Bodybuilding. To get Marc's free e-zine, visit JustAskMarc.com
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