This is a common question that people ask. Is it necessary to count calories to lose weight and become fit and healthy?
Logging all the food you eat can be a great way to see exactly what you are eating and how it could be affecting your weight.
However, if you think this is the only way to lose weight, it could really put you off. It takes a lot of effort to accurately track all of the food you eat.
Is Calorie Counting a good idea?
If you don’t know why you are still gaining weight calorie counting can be really useful. It can help show you what your biggest source of calories is and show what you should be eating less off.
It is great for getting a detailed breakdown of what you are eating and how it can be affecting your diet. For example, whole grain bread can contain 109 calories per slice. If you are regularly eating 4 or 5 pieces a day that can be 500 calories from bread alone each day. There is nothing wrong with eating bread, but counting calories could show you how certain foods are boosting your calories without you realising.
If you want to dramatically improve your diet then counting calories will help a lot. Most apps will help you monitor the amount of each macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates and fat) you are consuming and also if you are getting enough vitamins and minerals.
It can also help you learn what size portions you should be eating and can help you gain that intuition in knowing roughly how different foods will affect how many calories you consume.
Tracking what you eat this way will help make sure your diet is absolutely perfect and is going to be the fastest way to reach your goals.
How should I count calories?
I would recommend that everyone at some point tries counting calories for a few days. It is very difficult to keep up in the long run but just try it and it can give you an insight into what you are eating on a daily basis.
If you do want to track exactly what you eat the easiest way to do this would be to download an app. Apps like “My Fitness Pal” are easy to use and have a huge bank of nutritional values for foods.
Try tracking what you eat for one week. This is itself might make you eat better since you don’t want to have to enter foods which you know you shouldn’t have had.
After this first week, see what your average calorie intake is every day. If you are not managing to lose weight try decrease this by 200 calories. This is only a small change but may mean you start to slowly lose weight.
If you can hit the right number of calories every day, consistently, then you will be well on your way to reaching your goals.
Is counting calories the best way to lose weight?
I know I have just said how it would be perfect and is the fastest way to reach your goals.
However, would you keep it up?
It may be the best way on paper, but to fit into your busy life and routine it may not be practical.
Calorie Counting would be the fastest way to lose weight, however if you are not going to keep it up then you still aren’t going to lose weight. If you find it too difficult to keep up you will stop and go back to how you ate before. You would be better off doing something you can maintain for the long term (ideally the rest of your life) that fits around you so there is never a need to stop, even if it does take a little longer for the weight to come off.
But think, even if it does take longer, you will be able to keep it up. So, you should never start gaining weight again and you can still enjoy going out for meals, having a drink and even snacking on chocolate. (Read about sustainable weight loss here)
Wouldn’t you still like to be able to live while losing or maintaining your weight?
Calorie Counting is more useful for the professional athletes and people who only have a small amount of fat left to lose.
What changes can I make instead?
If calorie counting is not for you (it’s not for most people) then here are a few simple ways with which anyone could improve their diet, without measuring or tracking a thing.
- Eat more vegetables – they fill you up for longer and are low in calories.
- Eat more protein – it is harder to digest so the body uses energy eating it, also its slow release of energy means we won’t feel hungry. (Read more here)
- Drink more water – water helps the body run at its best so if we are fully hydrated our body is burning more calories. Also, it can supress our appetite so we don’t snack as much and stops us from having higher calorie beverages. (Read more here)
- Get rid of the snacks – remove crisps, chocolates and sweets from your house so you have no temptation to eat them.
- Try not eating after tea – make tea your last meal so after that you cannot eat anything else. This can help stop you snacking on the sofa.
- Cook your own meals – not getting premade foods which are usually high in sugar and fat can mean you are regularly eating less calories and you’ll have healthier meals.
These are some simple ways we can alter our diets so we are eating healthier without having to track anything.
There is no one way to lose weight but there are plenty of ways you can change what you eat. Making these small changes can make a huge difference and can help you reach your goal weight. Most importantly they can be implemented into your life without creating much more work for you.