To lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than you burn. Some people are able to do this without counting calories. Others find that counting calories is an effective way to consciously create and maintain this deficit. According to a new study, paying attention to the quality of food is more effective in losing weight than counting calories religiously.
Read on for the reasons why I don’t love counting calories (even though it works) but how I use it just a bit to get great long-term weight loss results. Yes, there are a few minor exceptions where a calorie deficit may need to be calculated a bit differently (autoimmunity, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, and diabetes, just to name a few), but for the vast majority of people, simple calorie counting works just fine. Your food and how it is digested varies from day to day. The calorie content of a turkey sandwich depends on the type of bread used, the size of the slice, the number of pieces of tomato, the gram of butter, the gram of turkey that was fed, the part of the turkey that was used, what your intestines do with it, etc.
But energy balance and understanding calorie intake are still incredibly important to win the weight loss game. So what do you do? If counting calories hasn’t worked for you (or doesn’t work for you anymore), or the reasons above make you want to shoot yourself in the kneecap instead of counting calories, what other options are there? BUT. The main problem for people who eat healthily but still want to lose weight is still an energy balance issue. With a calorie counting approach, you can eat 2,000 calories of anything. You’re not necessarily aware of the nutritional composition of those 2,000 calories.
These calories can come from processed, packaged foods or whole foods. When it comes to losing weight, many people assume they need to count their calories. Although your food intake is important, focusing solely on calories can have a negative impact on your health. In fact, it may even hinder your weight loss goals. Instead of counting calories, there are a number of healthier ways to get in shape and lose weight.
To ensure that you limit your energy (a bit) AND get healthier in the process, it’s worth having some structure in your diet. It can feel like eating well is really difficult, which has a very negative effect on your physical and mental health overall. As you become more in tune with your own body, you develop the confidence to know what you eat, when and how much you should eat, based on your individual needs. According to Feller, the shift from focusing on the number of calories consumed to eating whole, unprocessed foods is a “profound paradigm shift.”
Fruits and vegetables are low in energy density, meaning they contain only a few calories based on their weight. To lose weight without counting calories, you need to be sure that you’re still in a calorie deficit for most of your week. The study also found that there is no specific insulin level associated with the nutritional effects of weight loss and that there is no specific gene pattern that influences which diet causes a person to lose weight. If you’re looking for a factual, workable, and effective way to drop the number on the scale, calculate your TDEE, give yourself a moderate calorie deficit (around 500 calories) and do it for six to twelve weeks over the week, and you’ll most likely lose weight.
It is a common story that people who eat a healthy and wholesome diet calculate their intake and find that they are eating too many calories. Looking at calories based on numbers alone excludes much of what contributes to your health and wellbeing.