Ever since weight management has come into picture, people have been led to believe that calorie counting is the only way to assure weight loss and be healthy.
While this is true to only some extent, it is really not the answer for many. If it really was about the calorie counting method, wouldn’t it be easier for everyone struggling to lose weight?
When is it okay to count calories?
When it comes to losing weight, there is no doubt about the simple rule that weight gain/ loss depends upon- calories in vs. calories out. If in any case, you do realize that you have been having a faulty diet pattern and instead of counting calories, you just switch to healthier eating, you will still notice a change.
However, if you have been someone who struggles with overeating, mindless munching or giving in to cravings easily and have a hard time losing weight, then perhaps minding your caloric intake could help you. When it comes to calorie counting, it need not be as much about counting calories about every morsel you put in your mouth but more about tracking calories as to what kinds (good or bad) are you really feeding your body.
When you track calorie intake, it gives you an idea as to how much you are eating and ultimately make you more aware of your eating habit. This is a very simple and hassle free approach to maintaining a healthy diet however, calorie counting can become dangerous when it tends to affect your eating habits so much so that you are literally scared of eating food.
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When are you overdoing it?
Like mentioned earlier, as far as it comes easy as a guidance to help you understand your eating habits, tracking calories is good. But, the moment you start worrying more about the number of calories and focus less on actual food choices then it becomes alarming.
The reasons why you can almost never be certain as to how much you really need to eat can be many. For starters, you might never really know how much your body’s calorie expenditure is (to ascertain the body’s calorie expense, you will need to be a part of a lab experiment that measure your oxygen intake, CO2 output among other technical things to know the exact calorie expenditure.) In fact, according to a study conducted on a group of women who were trained to count calories using accurate metabolic techniques were found to be severely under-estimating their calorie intake, for example, subjects who thought they were taking 1500 kcals/ day were in fact, taking closer to 2000 kcals/ day. Perhaps, that would explain why you may be counting calories and still not seem to lose an inch.
Another reason why calorie counting fails is because, in a bid to cut calories, people tend to make extreme reductions which whacks their metabolism out of control and sets a crazy craving cycle working. If you bring yourself to eating very limited portions of a beverage-only or one-macro only diet you will soon be giving in to cravings more and end up gaining weight instead of losing it.
What can you do instead?
- Instead of counting calories, mind your portions. Eat smaller portions of healthy food.
- Choose nutrient dense foods. For example, choose whole fruit instead of fruit juices. Even if it were slightly higher in calories than labeled, low-cal food, you will still be having maximum nutrients.
- Eat the right kind of calories. Not many people think twice before reaching for that ready to drink juice or alcohol or desserts laden with empty calories but become conscious when it comes to drinking whole milk over skimmed milk. Avoid skimping on calories when it comes to healthy, wholesome food and say no to calories where it is actually needed.
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