Quality Vs. Quantity: What Really Matters When Tracking Calories
For people trying to lose weight, tracking calories is pretty much a must. Weight loss is a simple equation: calories in and calories out. You must burn more calories than you take in to lose weight. The only way to know if you are doing this is to keep a record of how many calories you eat and how many calories you burn in a given day.
The goal of this is to be able to eventually eat intuitively, and not have to track anymore. You should get so used to what proper portions and proper levels of fullness feel like that you can eventually retire your food journal. This, unfortunately, is easier said than done, and all too often people get trapped by counting each and every calorie that enters your mouth, and losing sight of all else.
The problem with counting calories, is the focus is on the quantity, not the quality of the food you are eating. Often, when checking clients nutrition journals, all they see is the total at the end of the day. People will look at me, confused, when I tell them that eating a large piece of cake for dinner that has less calories than a well-balanced meal is not a good choice. “But I ate less calories,” they say.
*Insert hand to forehead here.*
It is always a better choice to eat something heavier in calories and dense in nutrients, than something lower calorie that is devoid of all nutrition. People automatically think high calorie foods are bad, and low calorie foods are good, but food does more than effect your waistline. Food is our way to provide our body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to run our bodily functions properly. Without a proper diet we cannot digest, heal, grow, think, function, move and yes, burn fat, properly.
Calories are the star variable in the weight loss equation, but weight loss is not the only equation you must pay attention to. There is also a equation for health, which is a well-balanced diet of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, low fat dairy and whole grains, getting plenty of sleep and drinking plenty of water.
Ok, that’s not an equation, but I always hated math, so just take it and run.