Week 4: Keeping Track of Calories and Fat and Counting Calories

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Keeping Track of Calories and Fat and Counting Calories

Once you have identified and set your goals, it is important to keep track of calories, fat and your weight.

Write down everything you eat and drink.Write down how many calories and fat grams in each food.

Weigh yourself every week on the same day each week.

  • Use one line for each food and drink
  • Be accurate (measure portions; read labels)
  • Be complete (include everything)
  • Keep packaging when preparing meals to find out the caloric and fat gram content of prepared foods
  • Request for nutritional information when dining out or view it on the web
  • Find out the portion size of a food and its caloric and fat gram content

Reading a Nutritional Label

Look at the Serving Size.Is this the amount you ate?

Look at the Calories per serving.

Look at the Total Fat grams per serving.

What if you eat a smaller serving than is listed on the   label?  You will be eating fewer calories and fat grams than are listed on the label.

What if you eat a larger serving than is listed on the label?  You will be eating more calories and fat grams than are listed on the label.

The % daily values are also a good guide in letting you know if something is high, moderate or low in a particular nutrient.  In general, 5% is considered low, 10% moderate and greater than 10% is high.

For example on the label on the left hand side, the total fat grams have a 14% Daily Value.  This means that this is a food that is high in fat but low in carbohydrate because it only has a 5% daily value.

Choose foods that are low in fat. 

The best way to lose weight is to remember that it is a result of the balance between two things:

1.   The calories (energy) you take in by eating food.

2.   The calories (energy) you use up by being active.

To lose weight, it’s best to eat less and be more active.

How Much Does It Take to Tip the Balance?

  • 1 pound of body fat stores about 3,500 calories.
  • Slow, steady weight loss (1-2 pounds per week) is the best way to lose body fat.
To lose: Tip the balance by this number of calories:
1 pound per week 3,500 per week (or 500 each day for 7 days)
1½ pounds per week 5,250 per week (or 750 each day for 7 days)
2 pounds per week 7,000 per week (or 1,000 each day for 7 days)

A good way to eat fewer calories is by weighing and measuring your food.  This might seem like a lot of work at the beginning but it will be helpful to determine the accuracy of how much you are eating.

  • Use measuring cups or spoons for solid foods. Level off any excess food.
  • Use a glass measuring cup for liquids.  Read at eye level.
  • Use a scale for meats and cheese.  Weigh meat after it is cooked.  You may be able to find these at HEB or at a dollar store.

4 oz raw meat = 3 oz cooked (This is the size of about a deck of cards).

  • Prepare all foods without added fat as much as possible.

A Word on Alcohol:

Calories in alcohol are “empty.” They contain relatively few nutrients and may raise triglyceride levels and blood pressure.  Alcohol can also cause low blood sugar when consumed without food.

Eating fewer calories from any type of food can cause weight loss.  A calorie is a calorie. However, eating fewer calories from fatty foods is more beneficial. This iswhy:

  • Fat has more than twice the calories as there are in the same amount of sugar, starch, or protein.  Also, it is easier for the body to store fat because not much energy is required to convert dietary fat to body fat.
                                     Fat                Starches/Sugars               Protein   Calories/gram               9                              4                                 4           A gram is a unit of weight.  A gram is also the way fat in food is measured.

Fat also plays a part in heart disease.  Research has shown that eating a lot of saturated fat can increase the amount of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol in your blood.  (Saturated fat is the fat that is typically found in animal fats and some plant oils.)  The higher your LDL, the greater your chances of having a heart attack.

It is therefore recommended that no more than 30% of your calories come from fat.  See the table below.

Your Starting Weight

Calorie Goal

Fat Gram Goal

250 pounds or less


4050 g

More than 250 pounds


50-60 g


What kinds of foods are high in fat? Most red meats; Most hot dogs, luncheon meats, bacon, and sausage; The skin of chicken; Dairy foods including regular cheese and ice-cream, whole milk; Many snacks (e.g., potato chips); Many baked goods (e.g., cookies, cake, muffins, biscuits); Refried beans made with fat; Oil; Butter; Margarine; Gravy; Mayonnaise; Fried foods (e.g., fried chicken, French fries, doughnuts, fried tortillas).

Also limit the amount of trans fat you eat. Trans fat is created by food companies when they add hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils. This makes the oils more solid, as in margarine or shortening. This process is called “hydrogenation.”

Check the ingredient list on food labels for the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.”  Avoid these foods.