A calorie is a measure of energy used to calculate the energy content of foods and beverages. Our body converts calories into energy and either uses them immediately or stores them for later use. Calories are vital for day-to-day living and are used for all physical activities. It is, in fact, critical in maintaining key bodily operations such as cell and organ functioning.
Because of the role of calories in our bodies, calorie counting is one of the most popular strategies for weight loss. The Guardian explains that it pays to have a rough idea about which foods have loads of calories, and which have less. The mathematics behind it is simple–when you eat more calories than what you burn in a day, you gain weight. Thus, calorie counting is used as a tool to track the food you consume and help you lose weight.
Today, we’ll discuss what you need to know about calorie counting for weight loss: its benefits, caveats, and everything in between.
Calorie counting as a vital part of weight loss
It helps in weight control
MedicalNewsToday lists weight control as one of the primary reasons to count calories. Foods rich in simple sugars quickly become a source of excess calories and increase a person’s risk of chronic illnesses. When one consumes more calories than they can burn, they can develop diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Conversely, if a person consumes too few calories, they can gain weight because of a decrease in cortisol production or develop permanent organ damage.
It involves setting a goal number
Tracking calories for weight loss involves setting a target number of calories to consume. The USDA does not provide a specific number and only publishes rough calorie ranges as part of their dietary guidelines support. According to them, your calorie target should ultimately depend on your activity levels throughout the day and take into account your age, gender, height, and weight. People who do intensive workouts need extra calories to account for the ones they are burning. On the other hand, those who do light physical activities need to create a caloric deficit to maintain their figure or lose excess pounds that go beyond their healthy weight.
It relies on serving sizes
To measure calories, you can rely on food labels that indicate portion sizes and the number of calories per serving. You can also take advantage of free apps and websites that provide a catalog of food and drinks and their corresponding calorie levels. Considering the portion sizes of the food you consume can help you reach your health targets and maintain a normal weight.
The caveats of calorie counting
Although calories help track how much you eat, they do not capture the quality of your diet. Food items that are low in calories do not necessarily mean they are suitable for your body. A zero-calorie soda, for instance, can be loaded with artificial sweeteners that can still raise your blood sugar. Calorie count likewise can’t be used to show the kind of nutrition the food can provide. For example, 100 calories of asparagus have a different nutritional value than 100 calories of potato chips.
Calorie counting alone won’t guarantee weight loss and better health. Your overall diet and the types of foods you eat are still the best way to ensure healthy and sustainable weight loss. As WeightWatchers’ weight loss plans demonstrate how big-picture nutrition data is also just as important as calories. For instance, calories from a cookie impact one’s body very differently from calories from a baked salmon, because they provide different nutrients. An effective weight loss plan takes this into account and takes on a holistic and sustainable approach to counting calories. By providing a highly individualized plan through healthy recipes that fit your nutrition goals, a weight loss program can support your overall fitness. Although calorie counting is the end-all-be-all answer to healthy weight loss, you can maximize its potential using tools to ensure this strategy aligns with your nutrition needs.
Our blog post entitled ‘5 Lifestyle Tips For A Successful 2022’ highlighted how developing good eating habits is essential to a sustainable lifestyle change. Coupling calorie counting with regular physical activity and whole foods can help you reach and maintain your weight loss goals to nourish your body to the fullest.