Do you need to count calories?
- Date: 05/12/2019
- By: Phil Parsons
Weight loss or weight gain will be the result of either a positive or negative energy balance. In other terms, not eating enough for your body’s requirements over a prolonged period will lead to you losing weight and consuming too much over a prolonged period will lead to you weight loss.
In order to establish your calorie requirements, there are several considerations to be made.
Your BMR (the calories required for physiological function), your level of physical activity daily (general movement) and any exercise all come with a metabolic cost. Your requirements for calories will more than likely vary on a day to day basis. Subsequently, calorie requirements are estimations at best. There are online calculators to help you identify a figure dependant on your goal. As we have previously discussed, you will need to consume less to lose weight or consume more to gain weight. Sustainable deficits or sustainable surpluses of around 500kcal are promoted. Less isn’t more for weight loss.
So, once you know your calorie goal for the day. What next? It is at this point where the real education starts. You need to start tracking your calories. Over the course of the day, make a note of the total calories per meal or food that you consume, and at the end of the day you have your total daily calorie intake. Complete this for the week and you have your weekly daily calorie intake. The more data you have to then compare against your calorie goal and subsequent change in body composition, the better the amendments can be for future direction.
Calorie counting is effective when accurate recording is completed. You had chicken curry for tea? Ok, did you have one or two chicken breasts? How much did that weigh? You had boiled rice? Ok how much? 100g? 150g? 200g? How many calories in that sauce? Carbohydrates, protein and fat carry calories per gram. You need to appreciate that calories are currency. “Healthy” or “junk” foods all carry calories. Are you eating “clean” but not losing weight? Chances are, you are under reporting your calories, you are consuming too much from the choices you make and over the week you are breaking even. Calorie counting promotes good habits, increases education and shifts accountability onto you as an individual.
Download an app such as MyFitness Pal and start weighing out your foods, using the barcode scanner and building up a picture of what your diet looks like. Be honest with yourself. If technology isn’t your strongest topic, pay attention to food labels and convert kcals per 100g into the weight of your foods, do the math and record with pen and paper.