Calories: Just a Number or a Standard to Live By?

by Sudarsan

Dietitians have many opinions about the importance of calorie counting when creating a diet plan.

Some believe that counting calories don’t matter. They argue that what counts is the quality of nutrition a dieter consumes each day. Others believe that calorie counting is an essential aspect of successful dieting.

Which is Right? 

Is it important to count calories to lose weight or is it more important to focus on nutritional value?

To answer this question, it’s necessary to take a closer look at whether calories are just a number or a reliable standard for designing an effective diet plan.

What are Calories?

Calories are defined as a unit of food energy used to quantify the amount of heat involved in a physiological chemical change.

Dietitians use calories to measure the efficacy of healthy eating and weight management plan.

They consider calories a useful way of predicting weight gain or weight loss. If someone consumes more calories than they burn, then they will gain weight. Conversely, if someone burns more calories than they consume, then they will lose weight.

In recent years, they have been plenty of debates on how many calories people should consume when trying to lose weight. 

The Argument in Favor of Counting Calories for Weight Loss

Advocates of a low-carb diet see calories as a reliable standard for those who want to lose weight should you use. They argue that restricting calories will optimize weight loss.

Besides helping to lose excess body weight predictably, restricting calories also provides other health benefits:

The fewer calories a person consumes, the better their body regulates insulin levels.

A low-calorie diet reduces the risk of serious illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Argument NOT in Favor of Counting Calories for Weight Loss

Those who believe that calories are just a number don’t dispute the value of calories for weight loss. However, they argue that what really matters is the nutritional value of food.

In theory, someone can consume a low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie diet based on junk food. While they will lose weight, they will not be healthier.

In essence, then, it is important for someone to use more energy than their body gets to lose weight, but it’s also necessary to follow nutritional guidelines. 

Based on this view, it’s actually possible for someone to consume a high-calorie diet and still lose weight provided that they burn a high percentage of it through strenuous exercise. 

A perfect illustration is Michael Phelps, the famous American Olympic swimmer. He consumed ten thousand calories a day when training for the Beijing Olympics but had a lean muscular physique because he also trained for hours each day, either lifting weights or swimming laps.

The Truth is Somewhere in the Middle

A person who eats a low-calorie diet and does a moderate amount of exercise will lose weight if they consume fewer calories than what their body needs—but the idea of starving or food deprivation is unnecessary. It’s still possible to lose weight by eating a healthy diet.

The ideal way to lose weight then is the focus on consuming a nutritious diet that has enough calories to maintain health and well-being but not enough to gain weight.

It is unnecessary to count calories with each meal, but it is necessary to plan meals ahead of time to calculate how many calories each meal provides. These meals should be based on healthy foods. They should have the right balance of carbohydrates proteins and unsaturated fats. They should also have the right balance of vitamins and minerals the other essential micronutrients.It is necessary to calculate calories when designing a weight loss plan. It is also necessary to evaluate the nutritional quality of meals. By choosing low-calorie, high-nutrition meals and sticking to a meal plan, it is possible to effectively lose weight. Additionally, after setting up a good meal plan, it will no longer be necessary to count calories with every meal. Keep these things in mind when looking for healthy snacks to buy.

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