It’s widely popular to count your calories for weight loss, and if you’re serious about losing weight and getting fit, you may have heard about calorie-counting or even tried it yourself. But while there is value in knowing what and how much you’re eating, there’s really no point in counting every single calorie.
In fact, a lot of dieticians and nutritionists would recommend against doing it – and here are the reasons why:
1. Calories are just a measure of how much “energy” there is in food. While eating too many does mean that you will gain weight, the process of actually breaking down and storing calories is more complicated than that.
For instance, if you consume only a hundred calories, you won’t instantly burn fat and lose weight. Your body regulates the amount of stored nutrients that are converted into energy or used as new material to replace the cells that die.
2. Different foods have different kinds of calories. High-quality calories come from nutrient-rich foods, such as leafy greens, nuts, eggs, and even proteins such as chicken and grass-fed beef – and these are the ones you want in your system.
Instead of breaking down your diet into parts by calorie count, think of it as a whole instead and keep it balanced (you can basically follow the food pyramid for this). It also helps if you eat more slowly and savor the food more.
By eating a balanced diet every day, your body will then be able to find its own natural balance, and you won’t need to count calories.
3. Calorie-counting only tackles the symptoms. If you’re not eating proper food and instead relying on instant noodles and junk food to get through the day, you will still keep gaining weight no matter how little you eat.
Forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy will also only make you more likely to quit on your diet. Calorie-counting also doesn’t account for stress eating or emotional eating, and because you’re sticking to a budget of calories per day, you even lose track of your hunger cues.
What You Can Do Instead
At the end of the day, calorie-counting will only result in you wanting to binge-eat more as your brain keeps sending signals to your body to get more energy. Instead of doing that, make sure you’re getting enough healthy food in your system, such as more vegetables and fruits.
Being healthy is also more than just food – it’s about an entire lifestyle. Finding ways to be more active, getting enough sleep, and finding good ways to manage stress all play a crucial part in achieving a sound body.