Following on from last week when I spoke to you about calorie expenditure, calorie counting is a way of measuring, tracking and controlling what we eat/intake.
Having an appreciation and awareness of both will significantly improve your chances of weight loss.
Whether you use apps such as Myfitnesspal or simply log what you eat I’m going to cover the pros and cons of doing so.
REASONS FOR CALORIE COUNTING
1) IT WORKS!
Plain and simply, it does!
By having calorie and macronutrient (protein, fats and carbs) targets to meet provides structure to dieting and can be adhered to by many, but not all
2) QUANTIFIES WHAT WE EAT
By tracking food this will help improve your knowledge and understanding of calories and macros and what this actually looks like on a plate.
By having calorie and or macro targets to meet, this will help identify and quantify in the early stages of whether you eating too many carbs or fats and not consuming sufficient protein etc. This might be obvious without counting, but to actually see it in numbers helps contextualise our current diets.
It can help factor in nights where you want a glass of wine, eating out or want to eat some cake by reducing your MEASURED calorie intake to factor in such food/occasions.
4) CALORIE DEFICIT
Actually finding out your calorie intake will then greatly assist you in determining a number to use to create a calorie deficit, and by tracking calories you can monitor more closely whether you’re achieving this consistently on a daily basis.
Once it’s part of your routine it really doesn’t take much time out of your day to track what you eat and helps keep you on track.
REASONS AGAINST CALORIE COUNTING
1) IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE
There are other habit based methods of food portion control like these ones http://www.precisionnutrition.com/calorie-control-guide-infographic.
Weighing food and inputting data into an app can be seen as tedious and stressful to some.
It’s genuinely impossible to track every single calorie we consume and to track accurately, there is margin for error.
4) NOT THE FIRST POINT OF CALL
There could well be obvious lifestyle changes that you could make first, such as cutting down on your standard fizzy drinks and opting for diet or zero calorie alternatives which could make a big difference to begin with depending on your daily consumption.
People get too obsessed with the numbers and can completely forget about food quality so long as they reach their target number or “fit there macros” as it’s referred to.
Following on from this point about food quality, it would suggest that you can lose weight on a diet of Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream provided you meet you calorie deficit target.
I’m not recommending it but you would still lose weight providing you’re in a deficit.
However if you meet your daily calorie deficit target on a diet of chicken, broccoli and rice (extreme example) you will also lose weight.
Difference is you’re going to feel and function a lot differently on a chicken, broccoli and rice diet then a B&J diet (abbreviating it makes it sound trendy doesn't it)
I’m not advocating or CBR diet, the thought of being on one to me is soul destroying
Point being you can factor in some quote-on-quote “junk” into your intake but it certainly shouldn’t make up a large percentage of your intake just because you can achieve a calorie deficit still.
You should still be eating a good 80% of wholesome, minimally processed food.
I personally do like calorie counting, I’ve been doing it for a while now and its works for me as it’s become routine.
Factoring in a Byron’s Burger is made a whole lot easier when I know the calorie content in foods and how I can make adjustments to include such meals into my intake without ANY feelings of guilt or I’m going to have to spend an extra hour in the gym or do 20,000 steps tomorrow to burn that off.
I roughly know what I need to maintain my weight, and I can adjust that number to either lose weight or gain weight should I so choose.
You might say that if you know roughly what you need then surely you don’t need to track?
This is certainly what I’m working towards.
Although if I was to diet I would definitely track my intake, as it'll be a lot better than guessing a deficit.
As always what-ever works and you can stick to it always going to be the best way to go.