What is a calorie and are all calories created equal?
Let us start with the basics, a calorie is an energy measure that is derived from foods. Calories are everywhere, from fruits and vegetables to cookies and cake. The only thing that varies is the nutritional integrity of those calories. Think of an apple, it has 80 calories that mainly come from all natural sugars and fibers. An apple has tons of vitamins that help our bodies absorb different nutrients. Now, compare it to a chocolate truffle where on average, these little treats have 80 calories as well; however, the calories that come from a truffle are very different than the ones of the apple. A chocolate truffle has a lot of plain and refined sugars (or simple carbohydrates) along with saturated fats in the form of cream.
A chocolate truffle might bring you that instant satisfaction, but ten minutes later, after your insulin levels have gone through the roof, your body will be asking you for more food. And additionally, that spike in your glucose levels directly produces the fatty hormone which is insulin. In this scenario, you can compare two foods, one being an apple and the other a chocolate truffle; same calories, but different nutrients. Essentially, the calories in each of these foods might be used differently in our bodies. Therefore, we have to be smart with the calories we eat and where they are coming from.
Since we just explained to you what a calorie is and how calories are different depending on the foods we eat, we can now discuss calorie counting. Calorie counting is a process in which we write out all the foods we eat throughout the day, in order to see how many calories we intake. Usually, depending on our size, weight, and activity levels, we can get an estimate of how many calories we need per day. There are many websites where you can find the calorie contents of many foods. This benefit of this process is subjective; it all depends on your goals and commitment. Below, you can find different types of people with the degrees of effectiveness after calorie counting.
To Count or Not to Count:
The Extreme Worker: If you are always working and have little time to go on the internet to look up the calorie contents for all the foods you eat, it might not be the right thing for you. Maybe, calorie counting does not work for you, but do not give up yet! Rather than calorie counting, you can take a different approach. Maybe you can add extra vegetables and proteins into your diet. By adding extra veggies and protein, you will not only be left more satisfied but you will be less tempted to eat a chocolate bar from the vending machine. The calories in veggies all come with a myriad of vitamins and minerals that will leave you full for longer periods of time. However, if you have the time during lunch or your break, check to see how many calories the foods you have eaten and keep track.
The Athlete: Depending of your workout goals, whether increasing mass or increasing athleticism, calorie counting might be for you. If you want to increase mass, you need to have a caloric surplus in order for the calories to distribute themselves all over your body, while ensuring bigger and muscular results. If you are part of a sports team, you need to eat the right amount of calories in order to perform your best and be left with energy, especially since you are burning quite a lot.
The Normal Folks: Calorie counting might be for you depending on your will. For example, people who sometimes struggle with cravings may want to count calories, because they may be trying to lose those last 5, 10, 15, or 20 pounds. The reason as to why people do it is to not sabotage results. Therefore, calorie counting works best for a lot of people, since it helps them keep track of calories throughout the day, without having to sacrifice results. However, if you are determined to losing weight and you say to yourself that you will eat healthy, calorie counting might not be for you. Since you already have the drive and will to say no to the sweet or fried foods cravings, then you might just want to focus on the types of foods you eat and where are you getting your nutrients from.
Ultimately, all that matters is your health and your well-being. YOU can create the best version of yourself. If something works for you, it might not work for others. Therefore, just do what it is best for YOU. Just remember to eat until you are satisfied and not to the point of extreme fullness. Remember, if once in a blue moon, you are craving something, eat it, but the key is MODERATION. Also, when losing or maintaining your weight, remember to eat an all-natural diet made up of fruits, veggies, good fats, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. You can read more on the benefits of an all-natural diet from previous posts.
I hope you find this post helpful in achieving your goals, whether to lose weight, maintain weight, gain mass, or simply determine whether calorie counting works for you. But remember, that YOU are the best person to make the final decision.
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