Some people naturally know exactly what to eat and when to eat it to feel good. They find a stress-free balance among calories, nutrition, and energy expenditure. For many people, though, it’s not that easy. Confidently fulfilling calorie counts can cause confusion. Which begs the questions; should you focus on calorie count? Or is it enough to simply focus on food quality?
The answer is- it depends on your specific goals and needs.
Situations Where it May be Helpful to Count Your Calories
You are trying to lose excess weight. Tracking your food intake, even if it’s only for a week, will make you aware of how many calories you’re putting in your body. This, in tandem with an analysis of how many calories you expend throughout your day, can help you refine your weight-loss plan. Once the plan is set, tracking your calorie intake, energy expenditure and the quality of your food choices for a while can keep you on track to lose those extra pounds.
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You are training for an athletic event or exercising more
When you increase your training, it pays to make sure you’re adequately fueling your workouts. Whether you’re tweaking your diet and adding in protein shakes after weight lifting or trying to figure out when to pop a gel into your mouth during an endurance event, your body will thank you for checking-in on calorie count and evaluating your overall diet. Nutritious food and the right quantity of it will boost your recoveries, your workouts and keep you energetic during the times in-between.
You are exploring a new way of eating
If you cut a major food source out of your diet, evaluate whether or not your calories count is still balanced with your energy output. For example, if you suddenly stop eating meat and start filling that space on your plate with asparagus, your calorie count will likely decrease even though your plate overflows! Make sure you find replacements that fill the calorie and nutrient gap the food you gave up leaves.
You are tired
Maybe you eat nutritious foods and feel like your plate is full, yet, you have no energy despite getting adequate sleep. If that’s the case, counting calories to make sure you’re eating enough of those healthy foods to support your lifestyle is essential. You might need calories. Or, you might be missing key nutrients. Evaluate both!
Keep in mind that calorie counting only makes sense if you know how many calories you burn. It’s important to understand that the number can change as your body composition and your activity levels change. The hard fast rule about calorie counting is that there is no hard fast rule. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it causes people to obsess over numbers that might not be accurate. In the end, eating should feel good and help you maintain a healthy mind and body. Counting calories is just one tool among many that can help you reach your fitness goals.