Saving calories for the evening

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I’ve been tracking my daily calorie intake for a while now and a few things are for certain:

  • It’s hard to figure out how many calories certain foods have.- for example when eating out or enjoying a homemade meal.,
  • Once the tracking is a habit it’s easy to remember to do.
  • Planning calories for much of the day helps a lot. I enter the planned foods (and calories) for lunch and snacks often before 8 a.m.
  • Evenings can be the hardest time to stay on track.

Since it can be easy┬áto go over my calorie goal in the evenings, I try saving calories for the evening. Usually if I have around 1,200 calories left by the time I get home, around 5 or 6 p.m., that’s usually enough for the rest of the day. If I’m under 900 calories at that time of the day I can be in trouble.

Why can it be harder in the evenings? For me there are several reasons:

  • Eating out of boredom.
  • Dinner often has been the biggest meal. Perhaps my body still remembers that?
  • Is there an old expectation that we eat while watching TV? Maybe.
  • We are just relaxing and there’s time to think about food and eating.
  • Everyone else is eating, too.
  • The newborn got me up and is eating, too.
  • I didn’t eat well throughout the day and now my body is screaming for more (and better) food.

And some of the things I’ve done about it:

  • When I feel like it want to eat out of boredom: I find something to do, maybe exercise again, have a glass or two of water or write a blog post.
  • I often now “skip” dinner and just have a much smaller meal that time of the day. This could be a yogurt or two, a protein shake or a sandwich.
  • Ask other family members to buy only treats that you don’t like. My six-year-old and wife love mint ice cream. I can’t stand it. I encourage them to buy that for a treat – over chocolate chip, which I love.
  • Keep calories for at least 1-2 snacks later in the evening.
  • Don’t “waste” calories on alcohol – especially when running low on calories for the day.

Keeping track of calories and hitting daily goals can be a dance. Sometimes we might not hit them, but it’s possible to achieve daily goals and lose weight over the long haul.

Another tip: Have one binge day a week, where you don’t keep track of calories at all and can eat whatever you’d like. Now, I would only recommend this if the other six days met calorie goals.

How to keep track of calories? I use the MyFitnessPal app.