In general, calorie counting is not the best approach to weight control. When you rely solely on counting calories, you never learn to listen to your body's hunger signals, which can be a powerful tool in shedding weight or keeping it off. That's not to say calories don't matter. Most of us know that in order to lose weight, the formula is: burn more calories than you consume. All calories, however, are not created equal. In fact, being mindful of the right types of calories is actually quite important. With the abundance of processed foods these days, understanding and focusing on the quality of your calories is really important to achieving your fitness goals in a healthy way.
To start, you'll need a general idea of how many calories you require to reach your fitness goal—and which foods are more likely to help you get there. Think of it as calorie awareness versus calorie counting.
How many calories do you need? Every individual is different, and caloric needs differ depending on many factors, including age, body size, activity level, and metabolism. Most women need 1,600 to 2,000 calories per day to maintain their weight, while most men require 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day. The number of calories you need per day may be more or less depending on the factors we listed above.
One approach is portion control, which automatically has the effect of limiting calories. Standard servings are generally much smaller than those given in restaurants or even what you're used to at home.
At the start of your nutrition journey, it's important to learn to measure servings of food and even track your food in a journal. However, unless you're paying attention, your portions may creep up over time. After a month or so, measure your food again as a refresher course on standard serving sizes and to make sure you're staying on track.
Finally, not all calories are equal. This is why so many people have started macro counting. Calories are more focused on the quantity, whereas macros are geared towards the quality of the foods you’re eating. If you are counting calories, you could fill your calorie count with sugary foods and then not have room for healthier options.
Not everyone needs the same macronutrient ratio. There is more to it than you think. Working with an expert (aka an Edge Personal Trainer) can help you find the right mix of macros and tailor an individual plan specifically geared towards your fitness goals. Do you want to burn fat and lose weight? That would typically mean increasing your protein, while decreasing your carbohydrate intake.
Now, counting and measuring calories might not be for everyone but we can all benefit from prioritizing what we put in our bodies. The effort put forth will result in a deeper connection to our food choices and to ourselves. Remember- knowledge is power and understanding macros can provide a useful framework to achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Interested in learning more and configuring your macros? Click here to get started!