COUNTING CALORIES: YES OR NO?
Do Calories Matter?
That’s the kind of things you hear all the time from most dieters.
From my experience though, counting calories is really NOT a good way to lose weight and usually makes the whole fat loss experience way more complex and stressful than it should be.
A Calorie is NOT a Calorie
First things first. All calories are NOT created equal.
Anyone telling you that ALL that matters for fat loss is the number of calories you eat is either oversimplifying science or simply ignorant.
Let’s look at the facts:
Calories from fat, protein and carbs all affect your body in a different way
Certain foods are more fattening than others because they affect your fat burning hormones, digestive health, metabolism and every single process in your body differently.
If all calories were equal, you could live off 2,000 calories of pure sugar a day without any side effects.
Good luck with that.
The bottom line: food quality matters as much as the number of calories you eat.
All those 100-calorie snack packs sold everywhere still pack 100 calories worth of crap and will slow you down in the long run.
That being said, the amount of food you eat still counts.
Even if you eat the healthiest foods on the planet, you can eventually gain fat if you eat too much.
The human body stores extra energy as fat – no matter how organic or gluten-free it is.
So Do Calories Matter?
There’s no way to avoid it. If you want to lose weight, you have to eat less calories (energy intake) than the amount of calories you burn (energy expenditure).
You can achieve this energy deficit in two ways: Eating less or burning more through exercise.
Pros of eating less
Cons of eating less
You have to be very strict
Less nutrients from food
You end up lean but soft
Pros of exercising more
Building lean muscle mass
Cons of exercising more
You have to get off the couch
If you exercise to spend more energy, you’ll be able to eat normal portion sizes while losing weight.
That’s why you need to use both approaches:
A way to control calories, AND intense exercise that makes you burn more.
Another argument in favour of exercise: The G flux principle.
You actually burn more fat and build more lean muscle when you eat more and exercise more than when you eat less and don’t exercise.
How Many Calories Should I Eat?
The killer question.
First, let me point out that ALL calorie formulas are as reliable as the weather forecast. They only serve up as a starting point from which you can make changes.
My simple formula to determine how many calories you should eat is:
Multiply your bodyweight (in pounds) by 12. That’s it.
Forget Calorie Counting, Enter Calorie “Awareness”
Even if calorie counting drives people crazy and isn’t even a reliable way to determine your caloric intake, it can make you aware of how much you’re eating.
If you can’t tell how many calories most foods contain and are still new to this, use the nutrition journal method:
Throughout the day, after each meal, log down what you just ate on a piece of paper or even invest in small notebook..
Add an entire week worth of calories, and divide by 7. You now have a better idea of how many calories you eat every day.
Use this method for at least 4 weeks and compare the numbers you get with my calorie formula (12 X your bodyweight in pounds). Are you overeating?
Once you learn how to control your portions properly, stop using the journal.
Why Strict Calorie Counting FAILS
If you’re a big fan of calorie counting, let me be clear your numbers are probably off target every single day, and by a lot.
Several studies show how calorie counting can almost NEVER be precise enough to be relevant:
On average, people under-report calorie intake by around 11% each day
Restaurants underestimate the calories of their meals by an average of about 18%
Some frozen meals contain almost 8% more calories than the amount given on the labels
People that obsess over counting calories have a GREATER risk of obesity
Calories DO count, but spending your life counting every single one?
oooooft not entirely necessary amigo.
Unless you're prepping for a bodybuilding contest or are an elite athlete then tracking calories is a huge part of being event ready.
However, if you're just an everyday normal person who is aiming to lose some fat, build some lean muscle, or just improve your overall health then resistance training (bodyweight, kettlebells, free weights) and just being mindful of the quality and quantity of food you're eating 80% of the time is your best strategy.
I hope you found this useful
Coach @ The Perth Fitness Camp
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