Should you be tracking calories or instead focus on the foods you consume?
What are Calories?
Calories are basically units of energy. We source energy through food, and we use energy through physical activity. We can track our energy intake vs expenditure using calories.
The number of calories in our foods vary. Here are the calorie values of the three main food groups we eat
- 1 gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories
- 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories
Should I Track Calories?
The human body needs calories(energy) to survive. Without this source of energy our body would struggle as we would start to feel tired, sluggish and have headaches. We source the energy needed from food and drink however when tracking calories, it doesn’t really focus on the quality of food you are consuming.
If we consume the correct number of calories our body needs each day then you will maintain your current weight, if you go on a calorie deficit then in theory you should lose weight, if you are consuming too many calories then you will likely gain weight.
Overall it sounds pretty straight forward as if you count your calories and make sure you are consuming the correct amount based on your goal then you will achieve your weight goal.
This may help if your goal is to lose weight or even gain weight, however it does not take in to consideration what foods you are consuming and instead focusses on how many calories are in each food. In theory you could starve all day so you can go out for a birthday meal in the evening and have a three course dinner. Is that healthy?
You could be consuming the correct amount of calories per day but not consume any fruit and vegetables which means you would be lacking vitamins and minerals, you could be consuming the correct amount of calories but be consuming too much salt in your diet which can be damaging for your health.
Tracking calories is great however my worry is that people still continue to eat processed foods that have a high calorie content and then starve themselves for the rest of the time, they do not get in the correct numbers of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals in their diet for their body to function properly.
Tracking calories is great for people to lose weight while still having the freedom to eat the foods they want to but they won’t feel any changes in energy levels or brain function.
What is Food?
Food is any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink to sustain life and generate energy . The foods you eat affect the efficiency of these processes. Each food we consume should contain nutrients and energy for us to keep our bodies healthy.
Should I track food?
Yes, Yes, and Yes.
Regardless as to whether you are looking to lose weight or be healthier, you should track your food intake. I don’t mean write down on a piece of paper that you had a carrot at lunch time. Instead I am talking about tracking and making sure that you are consuming all of the foods needed to live a healthy life.
For those of you who are looking to lose weight then by all means track calories, however also make sure that you are consuming a balanced diet to allow your body to function properly.
When you eat healthy, you will be able to eat so much more food than eating processed foods and that is based on consuming the same number of calories. You will feel more satisfied with the volume of food you are consuming, you will have more energy, and your body will function like you have never felt before.
The foods we eat, create the person we are you today. If you eat carbohydrates you will be more energised, if you eat fats your brain function improves, if you eat proteins your muscles will be able to grow and repair, if you eat vitamins and minerals then you will be protecting yourself from various illnesses and disease. Each food group has its own magical powers and the beauty is that there is so much to try.
In conclusion, you should be focussing on the foods you eat to allow your body to be able to function to its full capacity. If you are looking to lose weight then it is advised to track your calorie intake as you have to be on a calorie deficit to be able to lose weight.
Remember that a diet doesn’t mean starving yourself and you won’t have to limit your food intake too much if you are consuming the right foods. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and discover many healthy recipes which will enable you to lose weight and feel good at the same time.