Should You Count Calories?
Who’s correct? As per usual, the answer is neither black or white but a bit of a grey area.
For those who don’t know, a calorie is basically a unit of measurement for energy within the human body ( same with kilojoules except 4.2 kilojoules equals one calorie). To lose weight, the general guideline is to create a caloric deficit – in other words burn more energy than you consume consistently to tap into those fat stores. Of course it’s the opposite to gain weight.
But then you hear about the enigmas – people who seem to lose fat whilst gaining weight in the form of muscle. Seriously, do these people create a caloric deficit? I don’t think so.
The Pro’s & Cons of Counting Calories.
You can be exact! If you burn 500 calories a day more than you consume (an appropriate amount for weight and fat loss), than you know you’re on the right track. You can plan out every meal according to a solid system that keeps you in check, the possibility of eating too much relies more heavily on your discipline (or maths). But there’s some major weakness to this theory.
Many people have the belief that as long as you eat the right amount of calories you won’t gain any weight!
I hate to talk in absolutes, but those people are dead wrong.
The truth is if you eat 1500 calories of chocolate a day you will just feel like shit. You may lose weight, but probably muscle whilst gaining fat which will destroy your metabolism. So the quality of food should never be overlooked, even if counting calories
The Pro’s & Cons of not Counting Calories.
Benefit number one – you don’t have to count calories! I know that’s kinda obvious
Life is much simpler when you aren’t picking up food and looking at it trying to figure exactly how much is in there. But, is it easy to control you body without counting them?
Assuming you eat a realistic amount of quality food, you shouldn’t need to bother, but what’s realistic? You’re no longer measuring your intake so you have no indication as to how much you should have – that’s the major flaw. But there are many ways to determine if you’re having enough.
Making sure you eat the right amount of food
Well, you can count calories. I did this for years and now I just have a good idea of roughly how much I should eat. If you would like to count calories and then roughly mimic a similar amount of food that can work (find out how many calories using our BMR/BMI Calculator), but I prefer a much simpler approach.
I try to eat as much quality (non processed) meat, eggs and vegetables as keeps me satisfied. I keep fruit down to one or two a day and that helps to lean me up. When trying to put on muscle, the fruit intake increases, and I’ll even eat a bit more than what keeps me satisfied if I’ve had a big weightlifting session. The key is to eat when you’re hungry and eat a portion of meat with some vegetables with each meal, throwing in a bit of fruit occassionally – hell sometimes when I’m lazy I’ll just have some chicken or something similar without anything else!).
Quality food will be hard to store as fat, and will promote muscle growth.
Sticking to this type of food and avoiding the junk will take care of the ‘calories in, calories out’ problem automatically by keeping your hormones, alkalinity and insulin in order (among many other things).
Not to mention our bodys are like machines – they feed us signals to help determine what we need. It takes time to adjust from the lifestyles of constant junkfood and softdrink intake (or even bread and grain based products) so it can operate efficiently again.
Which way to go?
My way works well for me, but does it suit you? There was once a time that I was always hungry, that’s when counting calories saved me from disappointment! It comes down to what you’d like to do, and what you feel suits your lifestyle and body type/behaviour.
My advice is to try both ways and monitor your progress. Count calories for a few weeks, then try not counting them. Not only will you get to try both but get a good idea of roughly how much food you should consume daily. If you find one way makes you feel better about what you’re doing, stick with it. The most important thing is to make it not such a big deal – just eat and enjoy healthy food, get some exercise and enjoy the rest of your life!
If you really want to take advantage of a lifestyle without counting calories, I highly recommend a Paleo way of eating or going primal!