Weight Loss NHS
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Calorie counting

Hello there.. I really want to give the 12 weeks programm a try but am wondering.. how do you do the calorie counting? Do you weigh/ measure all your intake? Are you sometimes estimating? And what do you do if you cook everything fresh and can't find the food on e.g. the fitness pal app? I don't really have the time to focus on that during the day so I was wondering if any of you had some useful advice on how to do it..

7 Replies

Hi Frofphee .

Weighing really helps with portion control. I don't worry so much about weighing veggies etc, but it is good to know calories in meat if you eat it, and in those carbs and fat laden foods! I would recommend weighing things like pasta and rice to see how much you get for your calories. I haven't used any apps, just this site:

nhs.uk/Livewell/weight-loss... and the values given on food packaging. I also weigh cheese very carefully as I like it sprinkled on my veggie pasta or bolognese and of course it is really fatty and calorie laden. As I have been eating healthily for about three months now I have gotten to know how much of certain things I can have and so am more relaxed with the weighing out.

Have you checked your calorie allowance for your weight and height? Use this tool:


I hope this helps a bit. :-)

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There is nothing wrong with estimating so long as your portion sizes are not too large! Common sense will soon tell you once you learn which foods are high in calories and which foods are not. A good way to look at it is; is the food high in water (good) or high in sugar and fat or oil (not so good). Is the food a natural food that grows, runs, swims or comes off a tree? (good) or is it man-made with lots of sugar, fat, colours etc added (not so good). Try it and see how you get on. You can always get a little stricter later on if necessary. Beware of drinking a lot of calories too - coffee shops, colas, juices and alcoholic drinks can really add on the calories. Stick to fruit teas, herbal teas, tea and coffee with skimmed milk, and lots of water!

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Hi and welcome

I have been doing the NHS 12 week plan for 4 weeks now and I weighed everything and calculated the the calories and then put them in a spread sheet

Here is a bit of my spread sheet for you to see (item, amount and calories per the amount)

Avocado100 gm = 198

Banana100 gm = 51

Blueberries50 gm = 34

Brocolli100 gm = 34

Cherries5 = 8

Cucumber1 Slice = 1

Then just calculate from there - the spread sheet is split into different columns - Miscellaneous & Dairy , Fruit and Veg,

Meat, Fish & Poultry

and Tins & Drink

have just added to it as I went along, so say tomorrow morning I want a banana I will just weigh it and if it is 60 gm I will divide the 198 calories by 100 and then times the amount by 60 = 118.8 calories which I will round up to 109 calories

I have gone through all my freezer items and looked at the packets and put these on a spreadsheet as above too - it makes calculating so much easier

Hope this helps you ;)

Good luck on your journey, calorie counting takes a while to get used to but it has come part of my life after just 4 weeks

Edited to add - I use nutracheck to get the calorie amounts


We did the 12 week plan and during that, we weighed everything. We found our portion sizes were much bigger than they should have been. Now we've stopped weighing most things but I still weigh breakfast cereals and we weigh pasta and rice. The calorie info on the NHS choices page is great. It even has many restaurants on it, which is helpful when eating out.


I follow a slightly different plan where you count portions, I find it easier than counting individual calories. 😊 It's very similar to the British Heart Foundation "facts not fads" eating plan.


I did the 12 week programme and weighed stuff at the beginning to help me relearn the correct portion sizes, but now I have an idea of what a portion looks like with some things so don't bother weighing a lot of things. There are some things I still weigh like the higher calorie food.


I found it a really hard adjustment as have never counted calories before. it takes so long to sort calories for dinner, and if I do a "one pan dish" like risotto, it always does more portions than I need so I have to sort of guesstimate about what percentage of the overall calories I'm actually having

I have easy things to calculate for breakfast and lunch, so that spending so long counting for dinner doesn't feel so daunting and exhausting :)

I also have three dinners a week as "easy", so like a piece of chicken with chips and salad. or a piece of fish with crushed new potatoes and veg. as they're much easier to count and weigh than making pasta and sauce etc.

I weigh everything most days, but when being lazy I don't worry massively about the veg unless it's root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, sweet potato etc).

It gets easier the more you do it :)


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