First, let’s review what we mean by calorie counting.
- No doubt you’ve heard that counting calories can help you lose weight.
- But what exactly does this mean? Does calorie counting work? That depends on who you ask and how they go about it!
- First, let’s review what we mean by calorie counting.
- When most people talk about it, they’re referring to the practice of keeping track of the total number of calories consumed in order to manage weight loss goals.
Why calorie counting works
When it comes to weight loss, calories matter. But that doesn’t mean that the calorie-counting method is perfect.
Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of this weight-loss strategy. It’s not complicated:
You can simply calculate your total daily energy expenditure by multiplying your basal metabolic rate (BMR) by your activity level (measured in METS).
BMR is determined primarily by age, height, and weight. So for example, a 30-year old woman who weighs 130 pounds would have an average BMR of 1,622 kcal per day.
A 30-year old man who weighs 180 pounds would have an average BMR of 2,370 kcal per day. The lower your BMI, the lower your BMR will be on average.
Calorie counting is a great way to track how many calories you’re eating each day.Calorie Counting
Some research has found that people with diabetes or other health conditions do better when they follow a diet where they count their daily intake as well as take medications or insulin as needed.
One study showed those following such diets lost more weight than those following other types of diets even though they consumed more carbs than protein and fat compared to the control group.
Another study found similar results when participants were given goals such as restricting their intake according to calculated macronutrient ratios instead of setting arbitrary caloric restrictions.
The problem with rigid diet rules
When it comes to weight loss, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one person may not work for another.
That’s why it’s important to find an approach that feels sustainable for you. For some people, that means counting calories.
But does calorie counting really work? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.
The best case scenario is when calorie counting works well with other aspects of your lifestyle like healthy eating, strength training, consistent physical activity, adequate sleep and stress management.
One study found that among overweight adults who reduced their daily intake by 1,000 calories per day (the equivalent of half a large pizza), those who also counted their daily caloric intake lost almost twice as much weight as those who didn’t count calories — but only if they also adhered to several other factors like maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise.
So if you can meet all these criteria consistently over time, then yes! The more accurate your information about what you’re consuming (i.e., what’s on your plate) is, the better off you’ll be when making food choices.
The downside of eating only to burn calories
If you’re only focused on the number of calories you’re consuming, you may not be getting the nutrients your body needs. Additionally, you may miss out on the enjoyment of eating.
And if you’re constantly worrying about calorie counting, it can lead to unhealthy behaviors like restrictive eating or bingeing.
Furthermore, research has shown that trying to lose weight by solely focusing on cutting calories is less effective than focusing on improving diet quality and increasing physical activity.
In a study published in The Lancet in 2017, researchers found that people who were instructed to follow either a low-calorie diet or a high-quality diet with more nutritious foods (but fewer calories) for 12 months.
It had similar weight loss results–about 20 pounds over 12 months–though there was an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in those who followed the low-calorie diet.
How could calorie counting make you fatter than ever before?
There are a few ways. First, if you’re not eating enough calories, your body will go into starvation mode and hold onto every calorie it can.
Second, if you’re eating the wrong kinds of calories (too many processed foods, for example), your body will store those as fat.
Third, if you’re not exercising, you won’t burn any calories and they’ll just turn into fat. Fourth, if you’re eating too many calories, your body will convert them to fat.
Fifth, if you’re not getting enough protein, your body will start breaking down muscle for energy instead of burning fat. Sixth, if you’re dehydrated, your body will hold onto water weight.
Seventh, overeating lowers our resting metabolic rate so we burn fewer calories. Eighth, dieting triggers changes in hormones that make us hungrier.
Ninth, if you skip breakfast or other meals that break up your day’s intake evenly throughout the day then hunger hormones will be elevated all day long which will make you want to eat more and at times when it’s hard to find healthy food options like at work or school lunchrooms.
Finally, when we cut back on what we eat by 500-1,000 calories per day over several weeks without making any other changes like adding exercise then our metabolism slows down even more because our body is trying so hard to conserve its limited resources.
What can we learn from The Biggest Loser contestants?
The Biggest Loser is a popular reality TV show that pits overweight contestants against each other in a weight-loss competition.
The show has been criticized for its harsh tactics, but it does offer some insight into the benefits and downsides of calorie counting. For example, one contestant gained over 100 pounds before losing them all by following an aggressive diet plan with support from personal trainers and doctors.
The contestant also attended weekly weigh-ins to track progress which helped her stay motivated.
It’s clear that when combined with healthy habits such as exercise and self-control, an extremely low calorie diet can lead to quick weight loss results. However, there are risks associated with such drastic measures.
Rapid weight loss can lead to nutrient deficiencies if not properly monitored by a physician or registered dietitian; furthermore, this type of program may be hard to maintain in the long term due to cravings and deprivation diets can be ineffective over time because they create feelings of hopelessness among those who feel like they will never lose weight.
Are there any effective alternatives to counting calories?
Although calorie-counting can be effective in helping some people lose weight, it’s not the only way to do it. There are a number of other methods that can be just as effective, if not more so.
These include eating lower-calorie foods and working out for an hour or more per day.
Low-calorie diets have been shown to work better than counting calories for weight loss because they often don’t feel restrictive and help with appetite control.
Working out also helps with this problem, but there is little research on how long you need to exercise in order to see results.
Eating healthy foods has also been shown to be more successful than restricting calories, since you’ll be less likely to binge when you’re getting enough nutrients from your food.
Is there an alternative way to lose weight without calorie-counting?
There are a few different ways to lose weight without calorie-counting, but they all have their pros and cons. For example, you could try portion control, which would help you eat less overall.
However, it can be difficult to stick to smaller portions, and you may end up feeling hungry more often. Another option is to focus on eating healthy foods and exercising regularly.
This approach can be more sustainable in the long run, but it requires more effort and discipline than calorie-counting.
Ultimately, the best way to lose weight is the method that works best for you and that you can stick with in the long term.
If counting calories helps motivate you to make healthier food choices and exercise more often, then it’s worth considering as an option.
But if other methods like portion control or making healthier food choices work better for you, then go ahead and choose those instead!