skip to main content
Calorie Saboteurs
Counting Calories

Recording food intake is a good place to start when you're trying to change your eating habits, but counting calories accurately is essential if you want to lose weight.

Calorie Saboteurs... Uncovered!

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that when female slimmers were asked to recall their food intake for a day, they underreported by almost 500 calories – enough to stop them losing 1lb a week!

These extra calories rarely come from Kingsize chocolate bars, half a packet of biscuits or a mound of toast and butter, though. Instead, it’s the calories from all the little extras or slightly larger portions that get forgotten about. But these calories quickly add up, frequently pushing you over your daily calorie needs so that you fail to lose weight.

Think carefully about what you’ve eaten in the last week and you may realise that when it comes to recording your food intake, you’ve forgotten to add every single morsel that has passed your lips: those few chips from your child’s plate, the biscuit you munched in your morning meeting, that teaspoon of peanut butter you ate from the jar while you were waiting for your toast to pop up, the sliver of cheese you nibbled while cooking, that leftover sausage in the fridge. All these morsels seem insignificant on their own, but they soon add up to undo all your good work.

Counting calories accurately is essential if your goal is to lose weight, and the only way to do that is to record what you eat and drink accurately.

Because it’s so easy to forget your exact food intake during the day, the solution is to keep a small notepad or food diary in your handbag or pocket wherever you go. That way, every time you eat something, you can make a note of it. Then when you’re counting your calories up for the day, you can use your notepad to jog your memory to ensure that every single mouthful is counted.

But it’s not just the forgotten nibbles that can make the difference between calorie counting success and failure! It’s also worth evaluating your portion sizes. Many of us stop weighing or measuring portions of foods after the first few weeks of recording food intake and instead rely on judging our portion sizes by sight. Unfortunately, this often means portions and calories gradually creep up, stopping us from losing weight.

The good news is, once you’re counting calories accurately, you’ll be able to identify your problem areas and ditch them from the menu once and for all – along with those excess pounds.

Counting 'Forgotten' Calories

You might forget about these nibbles but they soon mount up the calories…

4 oven chips pinched off your kid’s plate 48 calories
6 extra strong mints while stuck in a traffic jam 71 calories
1 leftover sausage in the fridge 135 calories
1 chicken nugget left on your child’s plate 37 calories
A sliver of cheese while you’re cooking 124 calories
A handful of peanuts in the pub 155 calories
A chocolate digestive at a work meeting 90 calories
Slice of birthday cake for your colleague’s birthday 294 calories
5 Maltesers from a friend’s packet 48 calories
6 crisps from the packet your child’s eating 65 calories
1tsp sugar in your coffee because you’d run out of sweetener 16 calories
Couple of swigs of cola from your partner’s can 40 calories
½ slice of toast with butter left by your child 82 calories
2 slices of leftover pepperoni from your husband’s pizza 48 calories
1tsp of peanut butter from the jar while waiting for your toast 30 calories
2tbsp pasta and tomato sauce left by your child 70 calories
Slice of ham from the fridge 30 calories
Two mouthfuls of your partner’s donner kebab 82 calories

Portion Size Matters

Counting calories accurately is the key, and portion sizes can make a big difference. Here’s how things can go wrong in just one dieting day…

The meal The bad habit The consequence The calorie crisis
Breakfast: Muesli with milk and a glass of orange juice You pour muesli straight into a bowl rather than weighing it You have an 80g serving instead of your usual 50g + 109
You start using a bigger glass for the orange juice You have 280ml of juice instead of 150ml + 46
Lunch: Jacket potato with low-fat spread, reduced-fat cheese and salad with low-fat dressing You don’t weigh your jacket potato You have a large 220g spud rather than your usual medium 180g potato + 54
You use low-fat spread straight from the tub rather than measuring out 1tsp You have 2tsp rather than 1tsp + 20
You don’t weigh the reduced-fat cheese You have 60g instead of 30g + 78
You pour low-fat salad dressing straight onto your salad rather than measuring it You have 3tbsp instead of 1tbsp + 20
Dinner: Pasta with tomato sauce, grilled chicken and vegetables and a gin and slimline tonic You don’t weigh the pasta You have a medium 230g serving rather than a small 150g serving + 83
You don’t weigh the chicken breast You have a large 150g breast instead of a small 100g breast + 74
You pour yourself a freestyle gin and slimline tonic instead of using the spirits measure You have a double gin measuring 50ml instead of the usual 25ml single measure + 50
EXTRA CALORIES IN A DAY + 534

Calorie Counting with WLR

WLR's food diary, food database and tools make counting calories easy by doing all the calculations for you, best of all you can try it free for 24 hours.

Take our FREE trial »

Sponsored

Calorie Counting with WLR

WLR's food diary, food database and tools make counting calories easy by doing all the calculations for you, best of all you can try it free for 24 hours.

Take our FREE trial »

Lose a Stone for Summer Widget Top
Imperial | Metric

How Soon Could You Lose a Stone?


Calculate »

Lose a Stone for Summer Widget Bottom

Bestseller

Calorie, Carb & Fat Bible

The UK's most comprehensive calorie counter. Calories and fat per serving of each food alongside 100g values for calories, fat, protein, carbs and fibre - making it easy to compare. Easy to use listings with a separate Eating Out section.
Find Out More

Sponsored

If you enjoyed this article, try our fortnightly newsletter. It's free.

Receive the latest on what works for weight loss straight to your inbox. We won't share your email address. Privacy policy