Counting calories – Is it the answer to seeing changes in my body or performance?

To count or not count calories is an ongoing debate that will no doubt continue for years to come. I predominantly do not track the amount of calories I eat, however I still do from time to time and have found many benefits of doing so. The purpose of this blog is to list some points for both sides of the argument, in relation to wanting to see physical changes in your body or improving your performance whether it be training or sport related. By the end of this blog, you should have enough information to decide if counting calories is an option for you.
Against calorie counting

– Calorie counting can lead to obsessive habits. The more regularly focused you become on eating a specific number of calories daily can increase the potential to affect your daily lifestyle in a negative way. Examples of this include, avoiding social occasions for fear of overconsumption of calories or vowing to never eat certain high calorie based foods again for fear of weight gain

– Focusing too hard on purely calorie counting can mislead you to over or under consume the appropriate macro nutrients for you. Foods high in fat are higher in calories which can alter some people’s perspective to avoid this type of food which may lead to a potential inbalance in their daily nutrients

– There is no guarantee that the calorie information on food is 100% correct. Whether it be calorie tracker apps or the back of food packaging. Its important to do your research and compare products to get consistent readings of common foods

– We often don’t actually know how many calories we need. It is assumed that men require 2500 calories a day and women require 2000 calories per day. I have found it is not uncommon that people use these as a base for their daily goals. There are so many factors that influence how many calories we potentially need for example, age, activity level, current weight and also goal weight

– Calorie counting can become very time consuming. Even though we have apps available to save time when we try to calorie count, like all technology they do have flaws. Certain foods may have different measures that you can’t find and you may have to enter in every ingredient when you try to log home cooked meals.

Benefits of calorie counting

– Calorie courting gives you the ability to make calculated changes to your diet. Working with semi accurate calorie numbers of foods allows you to analyse areas of your diet that may require change to achieve your goals.

– It can affect your food choices in a positive way. Ever been in that situation whereby you open the biscuit tin and you have one chocolate biscuit? The 10 minutes that then follows involve you managing to consume another 5 more biscuits each containing at least 85 calories. I have found that on these occasions having knowledge of the rough calorie content of high sugar snacks can decrease chances of binging out on them 

– Calories provide a focus for training goals. Nutrition is taken a lot more seriously now in sports performance and can have a big effect on an athlete’s performance whether it be positive or negative. Having sufficient calories to perform and recover is essential for all athletes of any level

– Maintains motivation. Knowing that you’re hitting calorie based goals and seeing results can aid in keeping you motivated towards maintaining and progressing with your goals

– Helps on occasions when you feel you’re at a plateau. I am not saying that calories are always responsible for positive or negative weight gain, weight loss or sports performance. However it can be part of the checklist to make your investigations a lot easier.  

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