Activity: Calorie Awareness

~15 minutes

This is a REALLY important and quick activity to do. I have seen that when people simply DO THIS EXERCISE – their eyes are opened and they realise how much they eat that they simply DO NOT NEED.  You do not have to calculate calories like this much in the future, the point is not to count calories but rather to become aware of what you are eating and what small changes could yield large results.

Do a food diary over an “average” day or recall what you eat on an average day. Days that you are not eating “good” or “bad”, just normal for you.

Write down EVERYTHING you eat and drink on that day. Including any overnight snacks, drinks, soft drinks, milk, dining out etc…  EVERYTHING! Including when you get hungry or cravings.

I break it down into the following categories:


Meal Food Fluids Total Calories
Morning Tea
Afternoon Tea
After Dinner
Dining/Eating Out

Next step – calculate your rough basal metabolic rate online. You can google your own or use this one which has the basic variables = – either use google to search each food and add up your calories in a day (this is much easier than you think, just google “sandwich calories” “McDonald calories” “milk calories” etc and it will probably be there).  OR you can use a great tool I often recommend called “cronometer” which is free at its basic version = .  You can select foods and build the list and it will tell you how many calories, plus how many vitamins and minerals and hence = do you have any mineral or vitamin deficits in your diet?  And you can identify foods to have less or more of based on these. E.g. if your diet is low in zinc, have more high zinc foods like nuts and seeds.

Next step – calculate the calories you use when doing any exercise.  Again this is easy to google “calories burnt doing 30-minute walk”.

Finally, do your equation:

Calories in (via diet) – calories out (BMR + exercise) = ??

Is this a positive number, meaning you are having too many calories, or a negative number, meaning you are using more than you are putting in?

If we want to lose 2kg a month, which would be 24kg after a year, that generally means we need to be in a calorie deficit of 500 fewer calories a day or 3500 fewer calories a week. So that might mean eating 500 calories less a day or burning 500 more calories a day or a combination of both.  Or we could live normally on a few days of the week and have 1000 calories less on select days, meaning 3500 fewer calories a week. There are lots of ways to achieve this, but overall you have to be in a calorie deficit. Whilst I personally do not believe all calories are equal, meaning I think one calorie of walnuts or broccoli is much better than one calorie of sugar, the principles I just mentioned still are relevant.  We are aiming for both healthier quality and quantity.

Keep in mind that “500 less calories a day” does NOT mean you have to do this every day, it means “on average”.  Which could be 1000 less calories every 2nd day, or 3500 less calories over a week, etc

As I explain in the following video – I am not saying you need to count the calories of every meal for the rest of your life.  But I have seen that when people simply DO THIS EXERCISE – their eyes are opened and they realise how much they eat that they simply DO NOT NEED.

So give it a go.