Calorie counting is not only a tedious task, it also takes away a lot of the joy in eating.
Many have tried and given up. Even if you’re a meal prep kind of person, you are definitely going to have at least one meal outside. It’s very unlikely that you eat alone either (unless you have no choice or you’re the loner). With so much choices out there, and time limits to eat, do we really want to spend half of that dealing with the numbers?
- Less enjoyment
It’s hard to enjoy your food when you spend so much time trying to reference its caloric content. Also, not all dishes are cooked the same way, so your caloric count for that dish is still an estimate.
Because every calorie counts, you tend to avoid dishes for healthier but less appetizing ones. There is a balance somewhere?
- It’s really tedious
Having to reference your phone for everything you want to eat takes some serious discipline, especially in the long-term. So much time and energy used up trying to match what’s available either at the coffee shop, food court or online and what your app says. This is true of those that lead a busy lifestyle or eat out a lot, which is nearly all of us!
The process can create anxiety and make one self-conscious of what and how you eat. Example: You end up skipping meals just to fit into the caloric bracket. Worst case scenario, this sort of behavior could lead to eating disorders.
- Not all calories are equal
Calories from different types of food are processed differently.
What matters more is how your body digests what you consume. You can eat the same caloric amounts of candy and spinach for example. The sugar in the candy will give your body a sugar rush and spike in insulin levels while the spinach, because of its fibre is digested slowly and keeps you full for longer. On top of that you benefit from all the other nutrients in the spinach. Both have the same amounts of calories!
- No guarantee of weight loss
When you starve yourself or restrict your calories severely, your metabolism slows down. There is a possibility that it can be used to justify eating junk to fulfill a caloric quota.
- Understand your eating habits
Counting calories or keeping a food diary helps keep track of what and how you eat. It also gives you an insight of how food relates to your moods: what and how you eat when you’re moody, depressed, excited or anxious.
- Improved Awareness & Mindfulness
The process helps you become aware of how unhealthy (or healthy) certain foods are. You also go through the process of looking for healthier alternatives; such as replacing ice cream with yoghurt.
- Provides something to stick to
It provides those who like structure and set routines or plans something to stick to. It depends on your personality trait.
Yes, to lose or maintain weight we have to be aware of caloric intake. Lose weight, burn more calories, eat less calories. Maintain weight, burn equal amounts of calories that you eat. But not all calories are equal. Here are some suggestions
1- Focus on balanced meals
Types of food are more important than the calories you consume. Focus on eating whole, healthy foods. Eating a balanced meal will also make sure you have all the vitamins and minerals your body requires. Eating quality calories will help you curb craving treats and keeps you feeling full for longer. Stay away as much as possible from processed foods, and when in doubt, eat more vegetables!
2- Eat until you are full
Pick up on internal cues that signal hunger and fullness. Understand the difference between hunger and appetite
3- Snack smarter
Replace those high calorie snacks with cut fruits and vegetables.
4- Limit your calorie rich beverage
Probably the sneakiest way to inflate your caloric count! This means your colas, frappucinos, bubble teas and smoothies. Remember, sugars are calories as well and there’s certainly no shortage of that in those drinks.
5- Take your time
It takes about 20 minutes for your body to get the signal to your brain that you’re full. Chew your food, enjoy the experience.
You knew this was coming. The fitter you are, the higher your metabolic rate. That means your friend that runs 3 to 4 times a week burns more calories than you if you don’t exercise, even when they are sitting down doing nothing.
While calories are important, it is one part of the body’s digestive system. All parts of this system need to be balanced in order to preserve a healthy you. There is no magic pill to health and diets. You have to work on the entire system.
There are some advantages to counting calories, however, you need to be prepared for all the inconveniences that come with it.