Calories have always been a hot topic in the nutrition and fitness industry. Around this time of year, more and more people begin watching their caloric intake, guided by the belief that counting calories will subsequently earn them the beach body that they are striving for. But is this method the best way to achieve this goal? Sure, there are a number of benefits to keeping track of your caloric intake, but the practice can also be counterproductive if done improperly. By the end of this post, we’ll find out if turning your diet into a numbers game is the most efficient way to reach your wellness goals.
A. Pros - Keeping track of what you eat is inherently a smart, healthy thing to do, especially when you are trying to reach a specific goal or operating on a workout plan. Some people have no idea what their caloric intake is, and end up overeating thinking that they are eating the correct portions, or vice versa. Having a general idea of how many calories you eat per day can steer you away from eating an excessive or insufficient amount. Counting calories can also be a great way to maintain a healthy routine and keep yourself on track towards your goals. It is something to think about and strive for every day, and so long as it does not become an obsession, it can keep you mindful of your goals.
B. Cons - We start the list of cons in the same place that we finished the list of pros. For many people, counting calories becomes the focal point of their wellness regimen. They become obsessive and try to measure every meal right down to the last calorie. This is harmful for a number of reasons. For one, counting calories should not be at the top of your health priorities; your top priorities should be maintaining a regular exercise routine and eating healthy, nutritious foods. This level of obsession over calories (or anything, for that matter) can also be incredibly stressful and mentally draining. . In some extreme cases, stress and anxiety over calories can potentially lead to eating disorders, particularly with people who have a history of mental health issues. People often use calorie counting as a justification for eating junk food, claiming that they will burn all of the calories in their next workout. In addition, people sometimes focus on all calories being equal and swap a healthy piece of fruit for nutritionally devoid candy because the calories are the same! Not all calories are the same
I can’t overstate how many times I’ve heard the “Michael Phelps” example. While he was training for the Olympics back in 2008, Michael Phelps’ diet was enormous. For reference, his breakfast consisted of three fried-egg sandwiches with toppings (including mayonnaise), two cups of coffee, one five-egg omelette, one bowl of grain, three slices of french toast and three chocolate chip pancakes. However, Phelps was also operating on an extremely intense training regimen, burning anything between 3,000 and 10,000 calories per day. Eating a pound of french toast and pancakes and then using the StairMaster for thirty minutes will not garner the same results. Phelps’ was able to match his workout with his diet, and people who try to count calories often have trouble doing the same.
C. Nutrition over Numbers - At the end of the day, having a general knowledge of your caloric intake can be beneficial. Putting calorie-counting at the focus of your fitness regimen is a bad. You should not obsess over calories; just make sure you are not overeating, under-eating, or eating unhealthily in order to match some magic caloric number. Eat what feels natural, not what feels mathematically correct.