Everyone knows how to lose weight, right? You consume fewer calories than you burn until you reach your ideal weight. Few people question the ‘calories in versus calories out’ dogma of the diet. It’s the basic strategy that underlies even the latest technology-driven weight loss programs. But while counting calories is based on fundamental biological truths, it greatly simplifies the complex mechanisms that determine human body weight, according to researchers and registered nutritionists.
How Many Calories Do You Need To Regulate Your Weight Loss?
The ‘calories’ in food are actually kilocalories. Fats are the highest calorie foods we eat, around 9 kilocalories (kcal) per gram, while carbohydrates and proteins are each around 4 kcal per gram. At the most basic level, eating fewer calories than you burn leads to weight loss.
What is a calorie deficit?
The term ‘Calorie deficit’ and weight loss go hand in hand. The statement is pretty much self-explanatory stating that one cannot happen without the other. Knowing exactly how many calories one needs is almost impossible. It depends on variables such as sex, age, activity level, and weight. Whatever equation you use to estimate this is exactly that: a rough estimate.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a deficit of 500 calories per day for weight loss. For one week, that adds up to 3,500 calories, the amount long believed to be 1 pound of fat. It is recommended by CDC that you must create a deficit through a variation of activities, such as walking and eating, such as drinking sparkling water instead of cola.
Does calorie counting work?
The thing is, the calorie count doesn’t take into account the fact that calories are not interchangeable. The quality of the calories you eat is just as important, if not more, than the quantity. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know first-hand that creating a calorie deficit is more difficult than it sounds.
A chicken breast with brown rice and broccoli may have the same number of calories as a piece of pie, but the chicken will keep you full and energetic for hours as your body digests protein and fiber more slowly, while sugar in the cake can cause blood sugar fluctuations, which make you hungry.
What is metabolism and why is it important?
One factor over which a dieter has little control is the number of calories his body burns at rest. Informally, this is known as your metabolism. The theory of calorie restrictions doesn’t comply with the functioning of metabolism. Research shows that restricting calories can make your body compensate in other ways. For example, even one year after a diet, the hormonal mechanisms that stimulate appetite are elevated. Limiting your calorie deficit to around 250 calories (instead of the usual 500) would be a wiser decision and would help to lose your desired weight at a slower rate. It is easier on the metabolism and more tolerable in the long run.
Does Counting Calories Help You Lose Weight?
If you want to achieve healthy body weight, counting calories is a possible strategy. It can help someone to raise awareness and learn about nutrition. It can help people realize that a small amount of peanut butter has the same amount of calories (or more) as a satisfying serving of leafy greens. Counting calories should always go hand in hand with learning good nutrition.
Calorie counting can work. When you keep up with the calorie count in the long run it will definitely benefit with weight loss. But it doesn’t always encourage making the healthiest or most satisfying choices.
Counting calories is not a practice that works for everyone and it isn’t the only way. People with a history of eating disorders are recommended to avoid this approach. It is recommended that you learn to consistently choose balanced meals and snacks that support your goals instead. If you’re just counting calories, your diet is likely lacking in micronutrients.
A small adjustment to your current diet and lifestyle will add up over time. If you gradually switch to a plant-based diet consisting mainly of whole foods based on low energy density foods, you will slowly lose weight if you are overweight without counting calories.
The Best Ways to Track What You Eat
If you want to count calories, there are several ways to do so.
They all try to keep track of what you eat, whether on paper, online, or in a mobile app. According to studies, the method you choose does not matter, so it is more effective to choose the one you personally prefer. You can also try using the visual guidelines to measure your portion sizes.