Many people think that when they decide it is time to lose weight, they have to count every single calorie that touches their lips. This really isn’t necessary. In fact, it could become quite tedious and cause you to give up.

So how do you know how many calories you’ve taken in during a 24 hour period? Estimate! Count portions instead of each individual calorie. This is where effective meal planning comes in!

Making Your Calories Count

Want to eat more food without overloading on calories? Pick foods that have fewer calories in a given portion, and are thus less “energy dense.” Research shows that when people eat meals that are lower in energy density, they spontaneously consume fewer calories while feeling filled up.

Foods that are naturally low in fat, but high in fiber and water, let you enjoy bigger portions. These foods include lean protein foods, fiber-rich whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, and fewer processed foods.

When you know approximately how many calories are in that piece of bread and 2 ounces of tuna, you can have a general idea of how many calories you are consuming when you eat a tuna sandwich.

If you insist on tracking all of your calories, you’ll have to be diligent about reading labels and eating only the portions that the label gives calories for. You’ll also have to carry around a small notebook to jot down what you’ve eaten so you can assign a calorie value for reference.

A much easier way might be to utilize a spreadsheet that lists your planned meals along with their caloric content. Be sure to include other particulars such as protein content, carbs, and fat grams as well. Then print it out and post it on your refrigerator to give yourself something to aspire to.

Almost all packaged foods will contain information about the caloric content of those foods, but what about those fruits and vegetables you consume. Maybe we should give you some ideas!

Food Portion Calories
Apples 1 medium 125
Asparagus 4 spears 15
Avocado 1 305
Banana 1 105
Beef Roast, Lean 3 oz. 205
Beef Sirloin Steak 3 oz. 240
Blackberries 1 cup 75
Broccoli 1 cup 45
Cabbage 1 cup 30
Cantaloupe 1/2 melon 95
Carrots 1 30
Celery 1 stalk 5
Cherries 10 50
Chicken Breast, Roasted 3 oz. 140
Breast Chicken, Fried 4.6 oz. 369
Yellow Corn 1 ear 85
Crab Meat 1 cup 135
Cucumber 6 slices 5
Egg, Fried 1 egg 90
Egg, Hard Boiled 1 egg 75
Egg, Scrambled 1 egg 100
Flounder, Baked 3 oz. 120
Pink Grapefruit 1/2 fruit 40
Ground Beef, Broiled 3 oz. 230
Halibut, Broiled 3 oz. 140
Lamb Chop, Broiled 2.8 oz. 235
Lamb Leg, Roasted 3 oz. 205
Lettuce 1 cup 5
Mushrooms 1 cup 20
Nectarine 1 65
Okra, Cooked 8 pods 25
Orange 1 60
Peaches 1 35
Pear 1 100
Peanuts, Salted 1 cup 71
Pepper, Green or Red 1 15
Pineapple 1 cup 75
Pistachios 1 oz. 165
Pork Chop, Broiled 2.5 oz. 165
Pork Chop, Fried 3.1 oz. 335
Pork Ham, Roasted 3 oz. 250
Pork Rib, Roasted 3 oz. 270
Pork Bacon 3 slices 110
Pork Sausage 1 link 50
Potato, Baked 1 220
Raisins 1 cup 435
Salmon, Smoked 3 oz. 150
Spinach 1 cup 10
Strawberries 1 cup 45
Sweet Potato, Baked 1 115
Tangerine 1 35
Tomato 1 25
Turkey, Roasted 1 cup 240
Walnuts 1 cup 770
Watermelon 1 cup 50

Obviously, this is just a partial list, but it’s a start for you to reference when choosing foods. As you can see, fruits and vegetables are almost all relatively low in calories and can help you feel full without consuming a lot of calories.

You will want to consume fewer calories than what you burn off in order to effectively lose weight. Keep that in mind when planning your meals.

And we can’t stress this enough – read labels and take note of portion sizes! That way you can get a better idea of what you are eating and how many calories you are consuming.