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Drop the Weight With EJ: What is a Calorie and How Can This Help You Lose Weight?



As the year comes to a close, I’m taking stock of my lifestyle and everything that goes into living healthy. So this week I scheduled an appointment with a Registered Dietitian because even a coach needs a coach. When I sat down to our appointment, one of the first things I said to set the tone was “I don’t count calories.” Not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because it doesn’t work for me.

Why am I sharing this story? Well I’m going to address two big reader questions that I received several times this year and I think this story is relevant. You’ll see why by the end of this.

The first question is “How Do I Lose Fat?” And the second question was “How do Calories Work?”

I answered the first question by publishing an entire free magazine on Fat Loss.

And I’ll answer the second question here. .

So What is a Calorie?

A calorie is a unit of energy and the scientific definition is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree centigrade. It is energy that your body needs to keep you alive and undergo basic metabolic processes. This means that your body needs a certain number of calories just to keep you breathing and to keep your heart beating. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s good to know that 1 lb of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories.

How can knowing What a Calorie is Help You Lose Weight?

To lose 1 lb of extra weight you’d need to find a way to cut down 3500 calories. You have two choices

  • Continue eating as you normally do (assuming that you’ve been able to settle your weight to where you’re no longer adding) and exercise in a way that burns calories at the pace at which you’d like to lose weight. So if you want to lose 1 lb a week, you’d need to exercise hard enough to burn 500 calories a day (give the equivalent activity)
  • Alternatively, you can choose to cut down what you’re eating and exercise at the same time so that you don’t live in the gym or you can focus on cutting down what you eat alone. This is the more doable and sustainable choice

Regardless of how you choose to cut down on your calories, you have to keep track one way or another. This leaves you with a the choice of counting calories or goink another way.

How Do You Count Calories?

There’s calorie information available for most of the foods that we eat today. It’s even possible for you to get calorie information for some of our exotic Nigerian foods. The key is knowing where to get reliable calorie information, knowing what a serving size is, and measuring your portions appropriately so that you are eating serving sizes that will allow you to achieve your goals.

With respect to getting reliable information, there are a lot of apps out there that provide calorie information from MyFitnessPal to Fat Secret, but one thing you need to know about a lot of these websites is that quite a bit of this information is user generated and might not be accurate. Websites like Nutritiondata.Self.Com are a bit more reliable as the information is sourced from the research-based USDA database.

Paying attention to serving sizes can be the difference between eating 600 calories vs 150. For example, a bag of chips might state that their 150 calories, but what happens when the bag has four servings? If you paid attention to the 150 calories and ignored the 4 servings part of things, then you might find yourself eating the whole bag and eating 600 calories. This is why this information is very important.

And with Measuring portions, once you’ve figured out the serving sizes for the foods that you most commonly eat, you can get measuring devices to help you measure out the right portions so that you’re eating the number of calories that you actually think you’re eating.

What If You Don’t Want to Count Calories?

As with anything in life there are many different ways to get to your destination as long as you know what that destination is. I personally don’t count calories anymore, and focus on using calorie information and nutrition labels to make healthier choices.

If you’re like me and aren’t a fan of having to do all the research to vet the source of your calorie information, you can do what I do and focus on making healthy food choices and observe to your body to tell you how you’re doing. I’ve described this method in a previously published article called How Can You Count the Calories in Nigerian Food? And I broke the method down in more detail in The Fat Loss issue of my annual magazine.

Essentially, you’ll still be keeping track of the portions you’re eating, but you’ll also be keeping track of your results either by weighing yourself or measuring yourself. The goal with this method is to see how your body changes with what you’re eating. If you find that eating certain quantities for 3 weeks causes you to gain weight, you can easily cut the portions that you’re eating or increase the intensity of your activity. On the other hand, if eating a certain way is causing you to lose weight, then you’d want to continue doing more of what you’re doing.

Over To You:

Now that you have this information, I want you to make an informed choice. Don’t just decide to count calories just because it will help you lose weight.  I’ve lost most of the 19 kg from being pregnant with my first child without calorie counting, but I probably would have lost it anyway if I counted. I’m trying to tell you that are many ways to lose weight in a healthy way without counting calories if you don’t want to. So I urge you to review what you’ve just read and decide if it calorie counting would work for your unique lifestyle.

Bonus Action: Get the free magazine I published on fat loss to get the answer to the other question.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Mystock88photo 

EJ (Ejiro) is a writer/engineer/mom. She writes about healthy living to help busy professional women lose weight, keep it off—and actually feel amazing. She created a Registered Trademarked System (VAFs®) for healthy eating for weight loss and wrote the book Weight Loss for High Achievers to help busy women lose weight and let go of the idea that the only way to succeed is to diet for the rest of their lives. With EJ's methods, dieting isn't required and neither is spending hours in the gym for meager results. P.S. If you want to get the goal-crushing motivation to reach your weight loss goal, then you'll want to get the first chapter of EJ's book for FREE. Click here to get it now.


  1. Diary of a naija mom

    December 9, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Good one Ejiro.

    • EJ Ogenyi

      December 10, 2015 at 5:16 am

      Hello Naija Mom,

      Thank you and have an amazing day!!!


  2. Mei

    December 9, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    I like your way of counting calories, thanks.

    • EJ Ogenyi

      December 10, 2015 at 5:18 am


      I’m glad you like it and do feel free to contact me via my blog to let me know if it works for you.

      Have a great day!!!


  3. BB

    December 10, 2015 at 1:34 am

    Active enzymes in food is more important that calorific count for effective weight loss.

    • EJ Ogenyi

      December 10, 2015 at 5:20 am

      Hello BB,

      How possible is it for the average person to quantify active enzymes? A more practical perspective is to focus on foods in their most unprocessed state, no? From my experience these tend to have a better calorie profile than their processed counterparts.

      Have a great day,



    December 10, 2015 at 4:59 am

    The bottom line? You don’t need to count calories, but you should make all your calories count.

    • EJ Ogenyi

      December 10, 2015 at 5:21 am

      Hello Evelyn-Fit,

      Great sound bite. Can you make it actionable for others to benefit from?

      Have a great day,


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