John Basedow: When trying to lose weight, counting calories is the most effective way to do it, it's simple math, you need to burn more than what you put in. If you eat more than you need your body will just store the excess food as fat.
The number of calories that you need depends on the size of your body and your level of activity. If you are trying to lose weight, the general formula is to take your lean bodyweight, which is the actual bodyweight minus your body fat in pounds and multiply it by 8-10 to figure out your daily caloric needs.
Then take that number and divide it by 5 or 6 to number of small meals you should be eating. The figure you get is how many calories you should eat per meal.
For example: a 150 pound person can consume 1500 calories a day or 300 calories per meal in order to start losing fat.
There are lots of online calculators that can help you get more specific details based on your height, activity level, and Body Mass Index or BMI. Once you know how many calories you need it's time to start counting. Invest in a food scale as well as measuring cups and spoons. You need to know exactly what 3 ounces of chicken breast or quarter of a cup of almonds looks like.
Also, keep a food journal or use as app to track your food. Most people only remember the good things they eat, so if it's written down in black and white you'll be more accountable.
For prepackaged products check the food label for the calories based on the serving size. Dont assume that different brands contain the exact same amount of calories, at the end of the day it's just a math equation. Make smarter choices with nutrition and have lower calorie foods or up the exercise to burn it off.
By following these simple tips you'll be one step closer to living a healthier and happier lifestyle.