About calorie counting

When it comes to weight loss, calorie counting is the most basic method. The guiding principle is that the number of calories you consume should not exceed the number of calories you burn through being alive and through activity.

If you regulate the number of calories you take in based on factors such as your weight, height and gender, consuming significantly fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight, you will lose weight.

To get going simply calculate your body’s TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) and subtract a number of calories across the week depending on how much you want to lose.

A very rough guide is that 3,500 calories equal one pound weight loss over the week.

Typical daily menu

Breakfast: Ham and scrambled egg with a slice of wholemeal toast and a cup of coffee with skimmed milk.

Lunch: Tuna and light mayonnaise in a pitta bread with a banana and a handful of salted cashews.

Dinner: Sweet potato with roasted chicken breast, salad, butter and herbs.

Snacks: 2 scoops of light vanilla ice cream.


It’s completely in your hands and you won’t need to buy into any programs or go to any groups. There are loads of free tools available online and the calorie count for food is on almost every food and drink.

It can teach you about portion sizes and energy intake. Because every calorie is precious you’ll soon realise what portion sizes are right for you.

It can encourage exercise as an aid to creating a calorie deficit. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, but exercising is certainly a good way to help weight loss.


You’re on your own and you won’t be able to attend any groups.

Not all calories are created equally – some foods might be highly calorific but good for you, while others may be low in calories but nutritionally redundant. For example, a medium banana has more calories than a Kit Kat.

It can be tedious and anti-social. There are no ‘free’ foods as everything has a calorie count so you’ll be studying labels and menus and you don’t want to get a reputation as being a calorie bore.

Further Information

Discuss this diet or ask for help getting started.

Free TDEE and BMR calculator

MyFitnessPal – a well-known calorie counting app and website – free.

Read about other popular diets in our guide to diet plans for men