Is Calorie Counting the Best Way to Lose Weight?
If you are attempting to lose weight and are confused about whether you should count calories or not, you’re certainly not alone. After all, there are two sides to the coin – meaning that knowing what to believe can be somewhat difficult.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way. So, if you’d like to determine once and for all whether calorie counting is the way forward, simply continue reading the following article.
What is a calorie?
A calorie can be defined as the amount of heat energy that is needed to increase the temperature of 1g of water by 1°C. They are usually used to describe the amount of energy that your body gets from what you eat and drink. At the same time, calories also determine the amount of energy that your body needs to perform physical tasks, including:
- Maintaining your heartbeat
But, just what exactly does your body do with the calories that you consume? In the next section, we’ll answer that very question.
How does your body use calories?
If you are wondering why calories matter, here is a swift overview of how your body uses them. Essentially, it all begins with the food that you eat.
During digestion, your body breaks down your meals into smaller units, after which these subunits can either be used to build your tissues or to provide your body with the energy it needs to function.
The amount of energy your body gets from the subunits depends on where they have come from. With regard to this, below is a list of how many calories per gram each macronutrient provides:
- Protein: 4 calories per gram
- Fat: 9 calories per gram
- Carbs: 4 calories per gram
The importance of a calorie deficit
Once your body’s energy needs are met, any excess energy is stored for future use. Some of it is stored as glycogen in your muscles, but most are going to be stored as fat. Therefore, if you eat more calories than your body needs, you’ll gain weight, mostly from fat.
On the other hand, if the calories you get from your diet are insufficient to meet your immediate needs, your body is forced to draw on its energy stores to compensate.
This is what causes you to lose weight, mostly from your body fat. This calorie balance idea has been proven time and time again and continues to be the case whether your calories come from carbohydrates, fat, or protein.
Why counting calories usually works
Counting calories is a time-tested method to lose weight, with several studies showing that recording your food intake and physical activity is effective when it comes to weight loss.
There are three reasons why calorie counting works:
- Tracking your calories will assist you in determining which feeding patterns you would like to change in order to achieve success on your weight loss journey.
- Despite not always being accurate, tracking what you eat will offer you an approximate baseline to refer to in your attempt to reduce the overall number of calories that you eat per day.
- Finally, keeping track of what you eat will assist you in monitoring your behaviour. This could then make you accountable for the daily decisions that you make and inspire you to continue progressing toward your goals.
Apps for Counting Calories
When it comes to counting calories, there are numerous options for you to keep track of things. Previously, most people would use good old pen and paper. But nowadays, it can all be done quickly and conveniently using just your phone. Here are some of the most popular choices:
- Lose It
Here at TheSportWriter.com, our app of choice has to be MyFitnessPal. This is all thanks to its ease of use, along with its large library of over 11 million food items (and counting).
For anyone who likes to keep track of their macros, it’s well worth investing in a premium subscription to MyFitnessPal. If you do just that, you’ll be able to set your macro targets and will often be more likely to reach your fitness goals over time.
The premium edition undoubtedly has an intensive set of options for a macro diet. This includes such things as the ability to set goals by gram or proportion and an option to set different macro targets for rest days.
An extensive resource for those serious about their weight loss journey
As we touched upon in the last section, MyFitnessPal has quite the library of foods. So, it’s more than likely that the foods you eat will already be available to add at the click of a button. This comes complete with a list of the calories, macros, and alternative nutrients of the foods that you eat.
Sometimes, you will need to add this information yourself. If that happens to be the case, there’s no need to worry. Simply check the nutrition label of your food item and input the details into the app. Then, this will be stored within the MyFitnessPal database should you need to add it your daily food diary at a later date.
Within the free version of MyFitnessPal, you’ll be able to inspect the number of proteins, carbs, and fats you’ve eaten for the day. However, shelling out for the Premium version permits you to set a target for each macro. This can offer you a countdown to visualize if you would like to stick to certain macronutrient goals.
What’s more, you’ll also be able to set weight loss goals after you have inputted your current weight, the proportion that you wish to lose, and your current exercise level.
Staying fuller for longer
Are you one of those people constantly resisting the urge to indulge in snacks unnecessarily? If so, we feel you. After all, it can often be easier said than done to resist temptation (especially if you’re working in an office job and it seems to be someone’s birthday almost every day!).
But if you’re looking to stay on track to reach your weight loss goals, you’re going to need a little willpower to set the ball rolling. Once you’ve done just that, you’ll need to pay attention to the types of food you are consuming daily.
A good starting point would be to make sure that you’re consuming enough protein each day. This is because it keeps you fuller for longer, while also preventing you from overeating. But, if reaching your daily protein intake goal is something you struggle with, it’s well worth investing in a solid protein powder.
One of our personal favourites here at TheSportWriter.com is Performance Lab Protein – an organic rice protein concentrate that is not only 100% natural, but also contributes to natural appetite control and weight management, too. Read more about this product in our complete, in-depth review.
All in all, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the only way to lose weight is to consistently eat fewer calories than you burn. Some people have the ability to do this without counting calories.
On the other hand, certain individuals will find that the best way to remain in a constant calorie deficit is to count calories. Either way, it’s worth a little trial and error to discover what works best for you.
But regardless of whether you choose to track your calories, it’s always worth remembering that not all calories are created equal, and so you shouldn’t base your food choices on calories alone.
Instead, you should always make an effort to consume as many minimally processed, nutrient-rich foods as possible. At the same time, you should keep in mind that consistency is key, with a slow and steady approach ensuring maximum success on your weight loss journey.
Featured Image Credit: Travel Strong