Should I really count calories?
If you are not typically that into reading, then let us save you some time by answering the question in the blog title with a simple - “YES!”
Calories are defined as the amount of energy used to perform physical activities. These activities also include breathing, thinking, and maintaining your heart rate. Calories are also defined as the amount of energy we get from the food we eat and what we drink. So, in essence, the important thing to then conclude is simple - We need a calorie deficit, to lose weight.
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Once your body has used sufficient energy, the excess energy is then stored for future use. Food is your body’s main source of energy it needs to function. During digestion, your body will break down these foods into smaller units. These small units are then either stored or used as immediate energy.
Your body will metabolize the nutrients and use the calories to power your basic metabolism, your digestion and then your physical activity. Your body will start with your basic metabolism, providing energy to your brain, kidneys, lungs, heart, and nervous system. It will then use the calories to digest the food you consume and lastly, it will then use the remainder of your calories to fuel your physical activities.
Ultimately, you want to lower your calorie intake to a point where your body does not have excess calories to store.
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There are three main reasons why we believe people need to count calories:
It is all about mindful eating
Most of us have no idea how many calories we consume in a day. Some of our clients are often able to view on their fitness devices how many calories they have burned during a workout, however, not many of them are able to accurately report on how many calories they consumed that day. Counting calories will inevitably result in what they call mindful eating. It is a conscious reminder to ask yourself: “Does my body really need these salt and vinegar Simba chips?”. Mindful eating will help you develop a sense of self-awareness and listening to your body, rather than stuffing your face with whatever is closest (We have all been there, do not worry).
Reach your goals quicker
Counting the calories you consume each day, makes it easy for you to determine exactly how hard you need to exercise to ensure that your body does not store those calories as fat. It gives you a baseline to work from when you are trying to reduce the number of calories per day and compare it to your physical activity. Counting your calories will help you see for example according to the Independent, scoffing a Big Mac (490 calories) from McDonald's would take up 19.6 per cent of a male's daily intake daily and 24.5 per cent of a woman's – requiring 42 or 51 minutes of cardio to burn off, respectively.
Change your lifestyle
Your lifestyle can drastically change when you start counting your calories. Tracking your calories will not only help you identify which eating patterns you need to modify to successfully lose weight, but it will also help you monitor your behavior to better plan your meals ahead.
This is a really great way to cultivate good habits and ultimately change your lifestyle to a sustainable level.
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What not to do
As with most things in life, there is a right and wrong way to do something. When we are talking strictly about weight loss a calorie is a calorie, however, when it comes to your health you should definitely not blow your calorie budget on food that lacks nutrients and that isn’t exactly great for your health. You want to really consume nutrient-dense food like veggies and whole grains that will keep you fuller for longer instead of things like sweets and sugary soft-drinks that lack nutrients and make you feel hungry much earlier, causing you to eat more at the end of the day. The bottom line here is this - Do not just count calories, make your calories count.
Where do I start?
It is simple, start by using a calorie calculator to determine how many calories you need to consume per day to achieve your goal whether it is weight loss, maintenance or even to gain a little. Once you know how many you can consume based on your age, gender, height, and weight, you should be ready to achieve your goals in no time.
Remember, the only way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn. Some people can do this without counting calories. Others find that counting calories is an effective way to consciously create and maintain this deficit. We highly recommend using our calorie calculator, count your calories daily and see if it works for you.
Learn more by chatting to one of our friendly fitness instructors here at Fitness Fables