Losing weight through calorie counting is relatively easy, and a lesson that will last you a lifetime. There are however very mixed reviews about the matter, but to me, it simply makes sense that if you want to lose weight; your intake of food must be less than your energy output. What I especially liked about it is I can cook the way I know how, with only having to change a few simple things to make my meals more calorie efficient. This has honestly been very helpful with the guilt factor for me too. I don’t have to punish myself if I truly can not help the meal being served up to me and that alone has kept my focus and my binge eating down to a minimum.
Counting calories makes you more aware of what you are putting into your body and accountable for your actions; a reconditioning of the mind so to speak. You will quickly realize why you are struggling with your weight as you discover which foods are empty calories and what a proper portion sizes looks like. You will also soon learn all the extra unnecessary ingredients add up quickly. Fewer ingredients mean fever calories – plain and simple. Overall calorie counting helps you make better choices and you will learn how to budget calories like you do with money, while still working towards your weigh loss goals. Some foods are just not worth the calories. Of course there will be times where those calories will be totally worth it, just don’t make it an every day occurrence.
So what exactly are kilojoules and calories?
• A kilojoule (or Calorie) is a unit of energy measured in much the same way as kilometers measure distance.
• This unit of measurement allows us to talk about how much energy a food contains and how much energy is burned up during exercise.
• The kilojoule content of foods depends on the amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins present in the food.
• Energy requirements differ from person to person because of genetic predisposition, build, gender, age, metabolism, environment and amount of regular physical activity. For instance an individual’s energy requirements will differ from one day to the next and as we grow older for example young children require high amounts of energy to fuel their development; woman who are pregnant or breastfeeding require higher amounts of energy; and men generally have more muscle tissue thus require a higher amount of energy
• Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are broken down by the digestive system into their simplest components: simple sugars, amino acids and fatty acids. Fats and alcohol are by far the most energy-dense foods; this is why they should only be consumed in moderation.
• If we regularly eat more kilojoules than our body needs, the excess will be stored as body fat.
• If we want to lose weight it is important to exercise as lean muscle burns excess kilojoules.
Getting started ….
Some people opt for the paper and pencil method however this is very time consuming and will probably be too much for some. The best way I’ve found is the use of an online service. There are many different ones to choose from, some of which are free or at the very least offer a free trail package. These sites are very helpful as they give you all the tools you need to make calorie counting easy, i.e. online tracking of food and exercise diaries, calorie count database, allowing you to post your own recipes and so on. Firstly the site will work out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight and how many you need to lose weight at a healthy rate (say 0.5 to 1kg a week). Once you have your goals in place, you need to keep daily track of your consumption to make sure you have a negative calorie balance.
I myself use a site called: www.myfitnesspal.com
I know it can be a little tedious and laborious, but if you master this, you will be able to lose weight effectively and quickly. Remember this is a learning curb as most of us don’t have a clue as to how many calories are in the foods we eat, but you will learn soon enough. Once you get used to it, you’ll have an idea as to how many calories make up your meal, meaning you won’t have to be counting calories for the rest of your life. You will intuitively know how many calories you’re eating per day. In tern, you’ll discover what food affects not only your weight but your mood and soon enough you’ll feel more comfortable being around ‘bad’ food.
Now for the negative ….
1. Calorie counting is an estimation, including the dietary information printed on food labels. If your food item is off even by a few calories in the wrong direction, which may not seem like much now, over time you would gain weight slowly
2. It is extremely difficult to measure food accurately due to the naturally different shapes and sizes foods comes in, unless of course you use a food scale, however I doubt you carry one around in your hand/man-bag
3. Keeping track of calories burned is almost impossible for a number of reasons. Just to keep things simple, we would have to take into consideration all energy expended which would include sleeping, talking, walking, specific exercise and of course if we were relaxed or stressed out
But, that been said, I truly believe that calorie counting is beneficial; at the very least it helps recondition the mind, which lets face it, is one of the hardest things to curb. Just thought you needed to know all the factors and then leave it up to you to decide. For those of you who have success, great. For those who prefer another method, that’s great too, as long as we’re all on the same page of meeting the goals we set out before ourselves.
Image courtesy of nikcname