The goal of the calorie-counting diet is to stay within a target number of calories each day. It works well for some people. But most dietitians advise a more individualized eating plan.
Why Should I Follow This?
This diet can help you manage your weight and blood sugar levels. If you are overweight, lowering the number of calories you eat will help you lose weight. This will also lower your risk of health problems like diabetes
high blood pressure. If you are underweight, then raising the number of calories you eat will help you gain weight.
Foods are broken into groups. You can have a certain number of daily servings from each group. This results in a balanced diet. It also makes it easier to keep track of calories.
A balanced diet has a range of foods from each of the main food groups: grains, fruits, veggies, milk, meat and beans, and oils. Based on your calorie needs, a dietitian can help you find out how many servings you can have from each of the groups. Depending on your situation, you may also be given some calories that you can use for foods not in these main groups, such as sweets, desserts, and certain drinks. Alcohol, if allowed by your doctor, should be limited to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
This table shows the main food groups and the calories per serving for foods in them. You should work with a dietitian to find out how many servings of each group you can have per day.
Grains (includes starchy veggies)
One serving = about 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 = about 25 calories
Tomato or veggie juice
One serving = about 60 calories
1 small or 1 cup (for example, 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 = about 35 calories
serving = about 55 calories
serving = about 75 calories
serving = about 100 calories
Egg substitutes, plain
Fish: fresh or frozen cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, trout, tuna
Diets for weight loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
https://www.dynamed.com/management/diets-for-weight-loss. Accessed February 4, 2021.
Just enough for you: about food portions. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/just-enough-food-portions. Accessed February 4, 2021.
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