Should I count calories to get fit and healthy?
There are usually two types of people who ask this question.
Those who have a specific weight goal they wish to achieve, and those who simply want to look and feel great.
Most people reading this do not want to be yo-yo dieting for the rest of their lives. So therefore, should you count calories?
Yes and no.
Quite frankly, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
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When is it absolutely necessary to count calories?
It becomes necessary to count calories when you’re in desperate need to reach a healthy weight.
Not a few measly pounds, but rather a stark increase or decrease.
Most importantly however, it becomes even more important to count calories and weigh your food when you haven’t been receiving the results you expected using your current methods.
Most people heavily underestimate and over-track their caloric intake.
However, what constitutes ‘a lot of food’ differs from person to person, making it even more difficult to reach our weight goals.
For example, people who struggle to gain weight think they can eat anything and everything without adding a pound.
However, upon close inspection of their diet, it is clear in most cases, that they’re not eating very much at all, consistently.
Their meals lack calorie dense foods, and in most cases are utterly deficient in protein.
Struggling with Weight Gain and Fat Loss
Don’t get me wrong however.
Some of us genuinely find it incredibly hard to change our weight no matter what we do, even when we follow the advice from nutritional experts and dietitians to the letter.
We may fill out the Harris Benedict equation accurately, eat a 500 calorie surplus or deficit yet still remain the same size.
It took me, a guy at 5’9, weighing only 132lbs (at the time) with a daily caloric maintenance of 1,900-2,000 (based on the above equation) – to consume over 3,500-4,000 calories daily with exercise in order to gain a single lb.
When you have a case like mine, calorie counting is necessary to identify exactly how much food you’re consuming, and whether you need to beef up your diet before you start seeing results.
When shouldn’t you count calories?
- When you become more interested in what you see in the mirror, rather than what the scale says.
- When your main goal becomes getting strong, and creating a body that matters.
In addition to the above, you’ll be fervently trying to change some of your existing habits to productive ones that you will later thank yourself for.
In the future, when I begin coaching people on how to build a body that matters, I’m going to prioritize healthy eating and regular exercise over calorie counting, because I believe it is the best way to instill these habits permanently.
Contrary to popular belief, laziness or a lack of motivation is not the real reason many people fail at achieving their weight goals. It is because their body and mind are not adapted to eating healthier for the long term.
A new diet and exercise regime is supposed to be the beginning of a lifestyle change.
Which means, a change for life.
A diet isn’t supposed to be a means to an end.
You’re dieting for the wrong reasons, if you’re just going to eat a select few foods until you’ve reached your desired goal only to revert back to the unhealthy foods you used to consume when you were previously overweight or unhealthy.
Do you count calories? Do you think it is necessary to control portion sizes? Or do you feel it distracts people from the main goal of becoming healthy? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts below.