Is Calorie Counting Necessary?

Do you count calories?

Do you understand what calories are?

Have you ever compared how many calories you ingest to how many you expend?


Now before I get into it I think it is worth noting that I do not agree with having a life where you forever count calories. I mean life is for living not for obsessively calculating what you put into your mouth. Learning how to nourish your body and fuelling it efficiently, whilst still enjoying your food, is ultimately the end goal. However, to get there we first need to understand what we are putting into our bodies and the effect it could be having on us; especially if we are trying to lose weight but not seeing results.

That brings me to calories.

I can't eat that... WRONG!.png

Everything you eat will have a calorific value because, simply put, calorie is the unit of measurement we use to determine how much energy an item of food provides. Saying that, calories do not determine the nutritional value of the food. A food can be higher in calories and also higher in nutritional value, so is more desirable as part of your diet than a low calorie, low nutrient food source.

Yet if we are looking to gain or lose weight, calories are king. They are what we need to be looking at in order to see the results we are after. You don’t need to cut out certain food groups in order to lose weight, you can still have your cake and eat it but you will have to take it from your calorie allowance from the day. So with that in mind…

We all burn calories every second of the day… even sitting down watching T.V. we burn calories. This is called our BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) … our resting calorie expenditure. The more active you are and the more muscle mass you have the higher your BMR will be in order to keep you from losing weight; which is why some people can eat more than others and not put on weight – their BMR is higher.

To calculate how many calories you should (approximately) be having in order to maintain your current weight you simply multiply your weight by your activity levels:

Take your Bodyweight in pounds and multiply it by…

Women – between 12 (low activity) and 14 (high activity)

Men – between 14 (low activity) and 16 (high activity)

or

Take your bodyweight in KG and multiply it by…

Women – between 26 and 31 (low to high activity levels)

Men – between 31 and 35 (low to high activity levels)

Now this is a very simple formula and only provides an approximation as it doesn’t take into account your height, age, genetics etc, but it does give you a good basis to start from.

So now you know your BMR you can determine how many calories you need to have in order to either lose or gain weight.

To lose weight in a healthy fashion you are advised to drop 300-500 calories from your diet per day (or 2100 – 3500 per week)… to gain simply increase the amount instead.

Obviously, the more you increase your activity levels the more calories you will burn, meaning you will need to up your calorie intake in order to sustain that weight (or the less you will have to decrease your calorie intake by to lose weight).

To lose weight your calories in need to be lower than your calories out and to gain weight it is the opposite.

Image result for calorie in vs calorie out

So, now you should be able to determine, roughly, how many calories you should be eating in order to lose, gain, or maintain.

But please don’t see calories as health. Once you understand a little bit more about how much of what food you should be eating in order to be providing your body with the necessary energy; switch your focus to the nutrition within the food you’re consuming.

Sure an average banana might be the same amount of calories as your average packet of crisps (90kcal) however the nutritional value in the banana is vastly denser than that of the crisps; so should be favoured as part of your diet over the packet of processed potatoes (even if crisps are your kryptonite…).

So, although when it comes to specifically gaining and losing weight your calorie intake vs calorie expenditure matters and is necessary to monitor, your health and nutrition should not be based solely on calories. Calories are important but they shouldn’t rule your life.

#bettyoucan #bettican #bettwecan

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