There’s a great deal of backlash over calorie-counting. Calories are simply a measure of the energy contained in food. While recent research demonstrates that the thermic effect of food, or TEF (the energy utilized to process and store a food), and individual metabolic rate play a role in weight loss, the fact remains that those who consume more energy than they utilize will gain weight.
So, why the backlash? The main complaints I hear are “It’s too complicated”, “I don’t have time to count everything”, and “I don’t need to count calories, I’m just going to eat healthier foods”. The people that give me these excuses are generally unhappy with their weight. If nothing changes, nothing changes, my friends. It’s important to remember that even healthy, whole foods (though certainly more nutritious and better utilized by the body) can also cause weight gain when consumed in copious amounts.
I don’t count calories every day, but calorie-counting is beneficial when I want to slim-down, particularly when I write or log calories in a tracking app. Here’s what I’ve learned from counting calories:
Food Tastes Better When I’m being extra-careful about what goes in my mouth, food just tastes better! I end up taking more time to prepare it, make it look nice, and savor it. I also enjoy small treats much more. This past weekend I went shopping downtown and stopped at local chocolate shop. I bought a dulce de leche truffle and enjoyed it immensely; much more than I would have enjoyed a sugar binge.
I Choose Healthier Foods I end up eating more nutritionally-dense, whole foods, as they are typically lower in calories and more filling. Furthermore, I choose treats that I REALLY want because I have to work them into my calorie allowance.
I Think Twice Instead of grabbing a handful of chips or a couple of cookies here and there, I think twice about what goes in my mouth. If I want chips or a cookie, I read the nutrition label and measure out a portion size. Calorie-counting also helps me eliminate unnecessary splurges, like that extra cheese on top of my vegetable lasgana!
I Feel More In-Control Calorie-counting makes me feel more in-control of my eating and overall health. Though this sense of control can unddoubtedly lead to trouble when relied upon (some individuals say that calories are “the only thing they can control in life”), appreciating this control with an understanding that overindulging is not the end of the world can be very gratifying.
I Lose Weight When I step on the scale, I lose weight!