It’s about that time in the semester where students are taking midterms, working on projects, and picking up bad eating habits. You may think that as a busy college kid you don’t have time to count out every calorie you eat, but counting calories is a great way to monitor your food intake and to maintain a healthy diet. With a little diet pre-planning, it is super quick and easy to create your own balanced meal plan. Before you start counting calories, there are a few things you should look into.
First, it is important to know that a calorie is potential energy stored in food and not all foods have the same amount of energy. As college students, we really have to be mindful about our food choices. Although that greasy slice of pizza you want is tasty, it’s filled with a ton of fatty calories which can be replaced with a healthier low calorie nutrient dense item. Second, you need to calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the amount of calories you burn by just being alive and this also includes the calories you burn while sleeping!
Figuring out this rate is simple, just search the internet for a BMR calculator and answer a few questions. The third piece of information needed is to calculate your personal daily caloric intake. These two numbers are crucial to identify in order to understand how much food you can eat compared to how much you need to maintain a balanced lifestyle.
Once all of this information is collected, you are ready to start counting calories! On average, according to the USDA, women between the ages 18-25 need roughly 1,800-2,400 calories per day. Men tend to need a few more calories due to the fact that they tend to have more muscular bodies. Therefore men between the ages 18-25 need 2,400-3,000 calories per day.
Using a calorie intake calculator can help you find your exact number. There are various apps such as ‘LoseIt!’ that will calculate your necessary intake to help you lose weight and help you keep track of what you are eating. When counting calories, be sure to keep a food diary to keep track of how many calories you are taking in. To avoid the urge to over eat, plan out your meals and snacks the night before, count how many calories you plan to eat that day and stick to the plan! Research the products you want to eat for calories per one serving. Exercising also takes a big role in balancing calories. If you work out, you burn calories, meaning you can eat a little more! In the beginning it will not be easy, and as a busy student you may even get a little off track, but it takes time to make such a big lifestyle change.
Calorie counting may seem a little time consuming but it really is beneficial to helping maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. If you absolutely know that you do not have time for pre-planning, you can still benefit from this information.
Keep in mind the serving size of the meals you eat daily, cutting down the amount of serving sizes you eat or the portion of these servings will keep the amount of calories you eat lower. Think about what you’re eating and how much is too much. You don’t have to completely cut out unhealthy foods. Think calorie wise; by balancing the amount of food eaten, you are monitoring your calorie intake.