The premise of the calorie-counting, or calorie-controlled, diet is to stay within a target number of calories each day. Although this diet works well for some, most registered dietitians recommend a more individualized eating plan.
Why Should I Follow a Calorie-Counting Diet?
Following a calorie-counting diet can help you manage your weight and blood sugar levels. If you are overweight, reducing the number of calories you consume will help you lose weight, thereby also lowering your risk of several health conditions, such as
high blood pressure. If you are underweight, increasing your calorie intake will help you gain weight.
Calorie-Counting Diet Guide
The calorie-counting diet breaks food into different food groups and allots a certain number of daily servings from each group. This method helps ensure a balanced diet and also makes it easier to keep track of calories.
A balanced diet includes a variety of foods from each of the main food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, meat and beans, and oils. Based on your calorie needs, a dietitian can help you determine how many servings you can have from each of the groups. Depending on your situation and calorie requirement, you may also be allotted some discretionary calories that you can use for foods not in these main groups (eg, sweets, desserts, and certain beverages). Alcohol, if permitted by your doctor, should be limited to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
The below chart shows the main food groups and the calories per serving for foods in these groups. You should work with a dietitian to calculate how many servings of each group you can have per day.
Grains (includes starchy vegetables)
One serving = approximately 80 calories
Bagel (varies), 4 ounces
¼ of a bagel (1 ounce)
Bread (white, pumpernickel, whole wheat, rye)
Bread, reduced calorie or “lite”
Cooked beans, peas, or corn
English muffin, hot dog bun, or hamburger bun
Muffin, 5 ounces
1/5 (1 ounce)
Popcorn, air popped, no fat added
1 small (3 ounces)
Sweet potato or yam
Unsweetened, dry cereal
One serving = approximately 25 calories
Tomato or vegetable juice
One serving = approximately 60 calories
1 small or 1 cup (eg, cut up or berries)
Calories in one serving varies as listed below
90 calories per serving
Nonfat or low-fat milk
Plain, nonfat yogurt
Nonfat or low-fat soy milk
120 calories per serving
Yogurt, plain, low-fat
150 calories per serving
Yogurt, plain (made from whole milk)
Meat and Beans
Calories vary as follows:
serving = approximately 35 calories
serving = approximately 55 calories
serving = approximately 75 calories
serving = approximately 100 calories
Egg substitutes, plain
Fish: fresh or frozen cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, trout, tuna
American Diabetes Association website. Available at:
. Accessed December 29, 2009.
American Dietetic Association Guide to Eating Right When You Have Diabetes
. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc; 2003.
4/14/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ, et al. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
N Engl J Med.
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