It’s funny how in an attempt to lose or gain weight, we begin counting every minute calorie intake, diligently doing the math, when we hated the subject in school. But the math isn’t too complicated, right? To lose weight, you go into a deficit where calories out > calories in, and the exact opposite if you want to bulk up.
While we’re doing all this math, reading up articles on the internet, browsing through YouTube channels and relying on self-taught nutritionists and dietitians, are we really asking the right questions? Are we using food to only fill in whatever we can in our given calorie budgets? Are we using food to provide the right nutrition to our body? Are we even choosing the right foods while we’re at it?
Why You Shouldn’t Rely On Calorie Counting
While counting calories to lose/gain weight might be the most popular and followed method, overdoing it may not be the correct one. It’s quite dangerous as it can lead to many nutritional deficiencies. 500 calories could look like 2 big slices of pizza or a plate with rice/roti, a bowl of vegetables or pulses with curd and salad. The goal can be attained with both, but are we making the right choice that’ll help us stay healthier in the long run? So, rather than counting calories, it would make more sense to look at the nutrients on your meal plate.
Why You Need To Choose Nutrition Over Calorie Counting
Let’s look at a few reasons why the focus should be on nutrition over calorie counting
- Food Quality Matters: Calories do not look into the quality of food you are eating. A low-calorie food with well-balanced macro and micronutrients is considered healthier than a high calorie, nutritionally poor food. For instance, an apple may have the same calories as a cookie, but we know which one is healthier.
- Nutrient Dense Foods: When you follow calorie counting, one tends to avoid the natural calorie dense foods like nuts, seeds, ghee, oils, and avocados, etc. which are very healthy and important for good metabolism and maintaining healthy weight.
- Thermic Effect of Food: The number of calories used to digest our food is different for various food groups, so this can alter the effects of calorie counting to some extent. Food items made of processed and refined products are digested faster and are likely to spike up our sugar levels, than those made of natural and unrefined forms, which will take up more energy to break down and get digested and keep the sugar levels stabilized.
- Bioavailable Calories: Recent studies have indicated that many foods have less bioavailable calories than originally thought of. For instance, almonds, peanuts and pistachios all seem to be less completely digested, providing fewer calories, almost 20% less than what is mentioned on the label. This may be true for other foods with tough cell walls. So, calorie counting may not actually be accurate here.
- Effect of Food on our Satiety: Different foods have a different effect on our satiety levels, some give us a feeling of fullness for longer than others. So all foods are measured on a scale called the satiety index, which is basically the measure of the ability of the foods to reduce hunger, increase feeling of fullness and reduce calorie intake for the next few hours. Eating foods with a low satiety index will make you hungry faster than foods with a high satiety index. 500 calories from an ice cream/doughnut will make you hungry sooner than 500 calories from sprouts/beans and vegetable salad.
So, the bottom line is to make smart choices with your food and focus more on the nutritional aspect rather than calorie counting. Once you pick nutrition over calorie counting, you will notice more satiety, improved energy levels, reduced inflammation, you’ll be able to maintain healthy weight and witness an overall improvement in your health!
We hope this article helps you make healthier choices. For more on nutrition, check out Healthy Reads. If you want to know more about what kind of food you should incorporate, based on your weight loss or weight gain goals, speak to an expert by subscribing for GOQii’s Personalised Health Coaching here: https://goqiiapp.page.link/bsr
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