There is a humongous line of thought among many dieters that counting calories does not work. If you have bought into this line of thinking, maybe you just do not know how to count calories. It is quite possible that you have not considered all that is involved in this little task. There is a little more to counting calories than meets the eye which you may not be aware of. Counting calories absolutely works for weight loss, but it needs to be done correctly. As with any math, if there is something missing from the equation, your answer will always be wrong.
You cannot change the laws of thermodynamics. Losing weight is, and always will be, a matter of consuming fewer calories than you burn. This is true for each and everyone of us, with the only exception being for those with possible medical conditions. However, the vast majority of us do not have these medical conditions to blame our weight on. Even if your thyroid is sluggish, the laws of thermodynamics still apply. If you are not counting your calories, you have no way to even begin trying to counter this point. You have to be accountable to yourself when losing weight. Accountability begins with tracking everything that goes into your mouth. Those who do not understand this simple concept are doomed to fail with weight loss every time. When you are serious about weight management, calorie counting is a part of personal accountability you should consider.
Every bite, lick, and taste matters!
If I have managed to get your attention, it is time to address why counting calories may have not worked for you in the past. Odds are, you did not fully grasp what is necessary when counting calories. This article is meant to help you with this.
Every bite, lick and taste (BLT) counts towards your total caloric consumption. Those BLT’s are not meaningless free calories that you consume when you nibble on the little tidbits through out the day. You have to consider how many calories you are eating when you taste the foods you prepare for the family. How many calories were in the bite of your child’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich? If you gobbled down a small handful of nuts, you have to understand they are very dense in calories. A small handful of nuts can easily equal 100 calories. If you believe this is too much, then you are doomed to fail at weight loss.
Why counting calories could have failed you in the past.
If you have been one who has counted and tracked calories and still failed at weight loss, there is a valid reason why. The reason is because unfortunately, Nutrition Facts labels are not always factual. The law governing food labels allows a pretty lax margin of error of up to 20 percent for the stated value versus actual value of nutrients. In reality, that means a 100-calorie pack could, theoretically, contain up to 120 calories and still not be violating the law. What’s more, the FDA has never established a systematic, random label-auditing process. Compliance with the law is expected to be self-enforced by food manufacturers.
Knowing how flawed nutrition labels often are, it’s tempting to just ignore them altogether, but this would be a huge mistake. The best guidance I can offer is to minimize the number of foods in your diet that even have a nutrition label. When you consume more whole, minimally-processed foods you increase the quality of your nutrition and minimize the risk of hidden calories. Choose foods with short, recognizable ingredient lists featuring whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, and/or beans that deliver the most nutritional benefits regardless of what the label states.
What you can do.
First, you must understand that even if you have failed with calorie counting in the past, it is still something you should do. Some foods need to be actually weighed instead of measured. Weighing food is more accurate than simply taking a volume measurement because the amount of food you can fit in a measuring cup or spoon varies greatly. This is particularly true for more calorie-dense solid foods like nuts, proteins, starchy vegetables and certain fruits. For example, one cup of cubed avocado has 240 calories. But, how big of a cube are we talking about? If you dice it, chances are there are significantly more calories in that cup.
Brown sugar is another good example. One cup of loose brown sugar contains 551 calories. Pack it tightly, though, and that same cup has a whopping 836 calories, enough to impede your weight-loss goals. Measuring cups and spoons are not accurate measurements for calories with some foods such as cereals, grains and other loose food ingredients. Food scales on the other hand do not lie to us. They are always accurate for counting calories.
If you are one who believes that you can just estimate your measurements, just stop with this nonsense if you are serious about weight loss. We all tend to underestimate how much we eat, and overestimate the calories we burn from exercise. You are no different from anyone else in this regard. If you are content to half-ass one aspect of your diet, where does it stop? Does it really stop with that one thing? Often, that kind of attitude can bleed into other aspects of our lives. It may even compound over time. Then before we know it, we may find ourselves making excuses for putting lackluster effort into many other things. The next thing we know, we sit and scratch our heads, wondering why we’re not making progress.
Counting calories does work when done accurately.
If you have failed with this, then you need to learn how to count calories accurately if you are serious about weight loss. Perhaps you are counting your calories and still not losing weight, this simply means you are still eating too much. You have overestimated the total calories you need in a day and need to reduce your intake. The best way to do this is to eat more nutritionally dense, low calorie foods. Instead of eating a pint of Halo Top ice cream that contains about 320 calories, try having a cup of plain Greek yogurt flavored with fresh fruit or a sugar free, flavored mix in of your choice. The difference in calories will be about 100 calories in your favor with the Greek yogurt.
Mindless eating is what gets us overweight in the first place. Losing weight and then successfully keeping it off is just the opposite, we have to eat mindfully. Anything else will only result in failure and weight gain. This is true for all of us, because contrary to popular belief, none of us are special snowflakes in this regard. Our bodies are wonderful creations, where every component has a special purpose. There are some who unfortunately are born with defects, but when it comes to our weight and health, most of it is self inflicted through bad habits. If we are to remain healthy into our senior years, we must be accountable to ourselves. The consequences of a lack of personal accountability are we become overweight and unhealthy.