Should I count calories?

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Trust me, I’m aware as to how complicated and overwhelming the health and fitness industry can be at time. Methods for fat loss, weight loss, muscle gain are always changing and it can be pretty difficult to keep track. At a certain point, a lot of people just say, “Screw it.” While the bodies processes are extremely complicated, I believe that certain things can be explained with a little more ease to the consumer.

Basically, a calorie is a measurement of energy. Everything we consume has a certain amount of calories. Throughout our day we are “burning” calories. Our body is always expending energy (calories) merely in order to survive. To keep our brain, heart, and absolutely everything in our body running smoothly. Calories are also what most people think of in terms of physical exercise and controlling weight. We can manipulate our calorie consumption and expenditure through eating and physical training

With this in mind, let’s look at what we can do to use calories to our advantage.

Most people hate the thought of calorie reduction in order to lose weight simply because this means, less food. Yeah, I hear you. But the biggest piece of knowledge that I’d like to impart in this article is that the calorie isn’t the enemy. For example I’m currently in a fat loss phase of dieting. I’m consuming 2130 calories, give or take a couple calories, and while I’m slightly hungry here and there throughout the day this has been a relatively easy amount to hold. I’m not starving all day, I’m eating foods that I enjoy, and ideally, I’m losing body fat. I make sure that these 2130 calories all serve a purpose. I keep them high in protein and the majority of my carbohydrates are placed around my training sessions to help fuel them and in turn, build a better body. Now my short term goals are always changing and my plan will have to account for it. But this current state of fat loss is pretty sustainable and I’m at a point where I feel most people would be happy with the results. This brings me to another big point…

Everyone is different

There are a million calorie calculators online. They’ll spew out what you “should be” consuming based on your activity level, height, weight, and age. The thing that’s questionable about these calculations is that it’s almost impossible to determine how much energy someone is using during a set activity. Our bodies are so unique in how they react to stimuli that measuring how many calories you burned while running on a treadmill for 10 minutes is just not feasible. So my advice is simple, if you want to lose weight, take a look at what your eating. Maybe for breakfast you have orange juice, a piece of fruit, and coffee. Tomorrow, try switching out that orange juice for water. Or if your lunch is a sandwich, bag of chips, and a diet soda. Try switching out that bag of chips for a smaller bag, some almonds, or an apple.

Look, there isn’t one size that fits all with diets. And the most important aspect of a diet is sustainability. I’ve been eating healthier foods so long that I’ve just figured out what works best for me, tastes good, and gives me results. And it all started with taking out that bag of chips.

Now in all honesty, this is a slight oversimplification. I’m working with Austin Stout, a certified personal trainer and bodybuilding coach, with extensive knowledge of nutrition science and physique adaptations. He’s helped fine tune my intake to achieve the results I want. He’s allowed me to see that when broken down, physical changes to the body can be pretty simple. In order to lose weight, on average, you probably need to eat less food and could benefit from increasing your activity level. Do what I did to start my own fitness: Find the goal you want to reach, research it online the best you can, and try things that make sense to you. Trial and error will always lead you to the path that works for you as long as you pay attention and adjust appropriately.

So the next time you pick up that box of cereal at the grocery store, look at the nutrition label and start counting. If you really want to achieve the goal of a healthier body, a little math isn’t going to hurt you 🙂

And don’t worry, physical training and it’s benefits will be covered in a later article. For now, start eating healthier!

-Gabe

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