Getting Started with a Calorie Counting Diet

Pinch of Nom is a selection of recipes that are perfect if you’re counting calories or following a diet plan like Weight Watchers!  There are plenty of different diet plans out there to choose from based upon your own individual needs and lifestyle, but how do you get started with a calorie counting diet and does calorie counting work?

Getting started with a calorie counting diet | Pinch of Nom

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The NHS guidelines recommend a daily calorie intake of 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 calories for men, but if you’re looking to lose weight then these intakes can be reduced. The first thing to remember before you get started with a calorie counting diet is that it’s super important to make sure you’re doing so safely.  

Getting started with a calorie counting diet | Pinch of Nom

Eating too few calories can be really dangerous, as well as very unhealthy, so setting a realistic goal is the first thing that you need to do!  If you’re not sure where to start, then the NHS has a really useful BMI Calculator available on their website which can help to give you a good indication of what you should be aiming for. 

Getting started with a calorie counting diet | Pinch of Nom

The second thing to remember before you start calorie counting is that a healthy, balanced diet is key! 

The NHS has a great guide called The Eatwell Guide which gives you a really good idea of what your diet should consist of to make sure it’s nutritionally balanced, as well as lots of links to advice and help for achieving a balanced, healthy diet. 

One of the main things to remember is that you should be aiming for 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. 

If you’re struggling to fit this into your diet, then why not give our Stir-fried Beef with Ginger and Spring Onion or Campfire Stew recipes a go? They’re packed full with loads of veg and are low on calories too!

Campfire Stew - Pinch of Nom Slimming Recipes

How do I count calories?

The easiest way to work out how many calories are in a recipe and to track your daily intake is through the use of apps.  

There are loads of different apps available like My Fitness Pal, Nutracheck, Lose It! and the Fitbit app.  

Although some of these require a subscription to use, some are free and just as good as those that aren’t – albeit with a few less features!

Getting started with a calorie counting diet | Pinch of Nom

If you’d prefer not to use an app, then you could also work out your calories manually.  We know that this sounds daunting, but we promise that it’s actually really simple! We’ve got a whole article explaining how to work out the amount of calories in your food here

This is where batch cooking comes in handy, as you only need to count the calories once and then pre-portion it so that you’re not counting the calories for every single meal! 

We’ve got a whole section dedicated to batch cooking on our website! Get breakfast, lunch and dinner sorted in advance with our Cinnamon Swirls, Tomato and Basil Soup and Garlic Mushroom Risotto!

Garlic Mushroom Risotto - Pinch of Nom Slimming Recipes

Do I need anything special to start calorie counting?

There aren’t really any special pieces of equipment that you need if you’re planning to follow a calorie counting diet, but there are definitely things that can help to make things easier!

We recommend getting some small, digital scales and a set of measuring spoons so that you can make sure that you’re being as accurate as possible with your calorie counting.  

You can also pick up a fine grater which can help to make things like cheese go further, but keep the calories lower.

Getting started with a calorie counting diet | Pinch of Nom

We’d also recommend getting some low calorie cooking spray.  We use this in almost all of our recipes and it’s a great way to make sure you’re not wasting calories on cooking oils! 

If you’d prefer, you could even get a refillable spray bottle and fill it up with oil to reduce the amount you’re using in your cooking (and therefore cut down the calories!).

Finally, if you haven’t already, then get a copy of our second book – Everyday Light!  

All of the recipes in this book are under 400 calories, including accompaniments and we’ve even worked out all of the nutritional information as well!  

Obviously, the exact figures will vary depending on the ingredients and brands you use, but this is a really great, easy way to get started with your calorie counting diet!

Everyday Light - out now - hero image - pinch of nom

Want to keep track of your meals and how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis?  Try our Food Planner!  

It’s the perfect companion to your diet and makes it really easy to keep track of your calories, meals and achievements!

Drinks on a calorie counting diet

It can be so easy to drink your calories without even realising it!  

Sugar and milk in your tea and coffee can add unnecessary calories, so go for black tea or coffee with sweetener in your morning cuppa instead. 

If you can’t avoid fizzy drinks, then choose a sugar free option to keep your calorie count down – as an added bonus, the sugar tax means that these are cheaper than sugary drinks!

Getting started with a calorie counting diet | Pinch of Nom

Life is all about moderation, but the amount of calories in alcohol might surprise you!  Beer, cider and wine are all really high in calories, so try to go for lower calorie swaps instead.  

Getting started with a calorie counting diet | Pinch of Nom

Finally, water is key to a healthy diet. The NHS recommends that we should be drinking between 6 and 8 glasses of water a day, which can help to curb those snacking urges!  

If you can’t stand the taste of plain water, then try adding a slice of lemon or lime or some no-added-sugar squash to give it a little extra flavour.

Getting started with a calorie counting diet | Pinch of Nom

Whether you’re new to a calorie counting diet or you’re getting started again after a break, the NHS has loads of really good advice on how to lose weight in a safe and healthy way.  

They also have loads of in depth explanations around the science of losing weight and why calorie counting works. 

As always, if you have a medical condition then please do check with your GP before you get started on any diet to make sure that you’re as safe as possible!

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