Could Calorie Counting Be Right For You?
The concept of counting calories is nothing new when it comes to the world of weight loss. After all, it does make sense, right? To lose weight, if you cut calories so that you’re burning more than you’re consuming, the result is weight loss.
The success of this practice is based on a pound of fat being equal to 3,500 calories, so if you cut 500 calories a day, you should lose about one pound a week. However, it may not be quite that simple. For instance, many calorie-counting diets limit daily calories to 1,200, but this may not be the magic number for everyone.
It could be too low for a very active man or too high for a sedentary woman. So to help you determine if calorie counting may be right for you, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons it offers, as well as the key takeaways you’ll never want to forget during your weight loss journey.
The benefits of calorie counting:
As it turns out, most of us underestimate how much we actually eat each day, especially when trying to diet. Calorie counting can be a great way to assess your current diet and determine how much you’re actually eating.
To determine the right calorie cap for you, work to find your baseline number, or the current number of calories you are consuming. Try using a food journal for a week to give yourself a snapshot of your current dietary habits.
Your food journal shouldn’t just include calories; it should also include when you ate, where you ate and why you ate. This will help you to identify any triggering times, places or situations that may compel you to eat when you aren’t hungry.
The drawbacks of calorie counting:
While calorie counting sounds simple enough, it is actually quite complex and can be difficult to maintain. In an effort to see weight loss results, there’s a risk you could cut too many calories leading to a number of unexpected effects:
- Restricting too many calories frequently causes malnutrition, which can lead to problems such as osteoporosis
- You're likely to gain back more weight than you lost if you restrict calories to a point that's unsustainable
- Severely restricting calories puts your body in starvation mode, slowing your metabolism and leading to loss of muscle mass
- Your brain can't function as well if you're not giving it the fuel it needs
- Extreme calorie restriction can lead to gallstones
The 5 key dieting takeaways you’ll want to remember:
- Rigid diets deprive you. Many diets involve eliminating certain foods or even whole food groups. This is not only unhealthy but also unrealistic for the long term.
- Many diets don't fit into normal life. Weighing and measuring food may help you lose weight, but they aren’t practical as long-term strategies.
- Dieting can be expensive. Buying special diet foods can rack up a big bill quickly without any of the nutritional benefit.
- Dieting actually lowers your metabolism. When you cut back on calories, your metabolism tends to slow down. You burn fewer calories and the diet becomes even less effective. Worst of all, this slowdown can last after the diet ends.
- Eating is only half the equation. Lifetime weight management is not just about what you eat, it’s about your overall lifestyle. Regular physical activity and healthy stress-relief techniques are important, too.
Is there a better option than calorie counting?
Dieting is undoubtedly one of the most confusing and at times, frustrating things you can do. Between all of the different dieting trends and quick weight loss promises out there, you can be left wondering what’s right for you.
To find a weight loss program that’s truly effective, you’ll want to ensure that it offers: long-term plans for weight maintenance, recommendations on how to incorporate healthy eating and exercise habits into your daily life, support throughout your weight loss journey and realistic weight loss goals.