Compare your estimated TDEE to how much youve been eating

In order to know where you should begin, you need to know how many calories you were consuming prior to starting this program. Most people have absolutely no idea how many calories they eat every day. If you fall into this category, then it's time to start the new positive habit of calorie counting!

Before you make any major alterations to the quantity of food you're eating now, figure out exactly how many calories you've been averaging over the past few months. Think back to a recent "typical" day of eating and write down everything you ate from the time you got up in the morning to the time you went to sleep at night. Don't forget the little things like sauces, condiments, the milk in your coffee, the sports drink during your workout, that beer on the weekend and late-night snacks.

Then, get out your calorie list found in the appendix and add everything up. (I also recommend Corinne Netzer's "Complete Book of Food Counts" for an exhaustive listing of over 12,000 foods). If your food intake always varies and you don't have a typical day, then write down three days worth of recent menus, add them up and divide by three to get a daily average. After you've tallied it all up you may be surprised (often unpleasantly) at the amount you've been eating.

Make it a discipline to learn the calorie values of all the foods you eat on a regular basis and commit them to memory. There are probably only about a dozen or so. For foods you eat only occasionally, have your calorie counter book or calorie chart handy to look them up.

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