Tag Archives: diets don’t work

Should I count calories?

With all these calorie counting apps that are around and the pressure is better on us to look a certain way calorie counting can be an easy trap to fall into. Whilst it can be useful in some clinical instances I don’t think it is helpful for the general purposes of dieting.
 
Formally, a Calorie is a measure of the amount of energy required to heat one kilogram of water one degree Celsius. It was first used in engineering and physics, but eventually found its way into nutrition, we have Wilbur Atwater to thank for that.
 
Whilst it may make sense that tracking your calories, macros and nutritional intake will help you with your weight, overall health or dietary intake in fact it can have the opposite affect. It can lead to you becoming obsessed with counting everything you eat and feeling you have to stick within a certain number of calories per day. This will stop you enjoying your food and impact your socialising too.  What if you are out with friends in a cafe, a once a week occurance and the cake you is 450kcals plus a coffee 150kcals but you are only allowing yourself to eat 1500kcals a day? That cake is 1/5th of your calorie intake for the day, so is it worth eating it? Do you choose to eat it knowing you will be over your calorie limit for the day but that you have enjoyed your cake and time with friends, do you choose to eat the coffee and cake but then restrict your calories the next day to make up for it or do you decline the cake and feel deprived and as if you cannot join in?
 
Dietitian UK: Why I don't like calorie counting
 
I’d suggest that calorie counting can be a useful guide and tool for one off occasions but over the long term it has the potential to become obsessive.  Following a calorie restrictive diet does not make it a balanced diet. You could be getting all your calories from just fruit and veggies or be skipping a whole food group out.
 
There is also the question of is it even accurate? There is no way to accurately know the exact calories of the food apart from using a calorimeter in a laboratory. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to burn my food up each time! Yes this is worked out for us on food labels but that is a guide. A slightly different portion size, a different way of cooking, a slight change to a recipe and it will have a small affect. Does that matter? No not really as the calories are just a guide. 
 
Delving deeper,  your body will also not necessarily absorb all the calories that you eat. For some foods such as nuts for example, a proportion of the calories are excreted. So even know you may be eating  X  amount of calories you are not necessarily going to be absorbing all of those. Other foods can make your metabolism work harder, again showing calorie counting to not be a 100% accurate tool.
 
Personally I do not think counting calories on a daily basis is helpful and it can be a negative trap that you fall into. Instead look at the balance of your diet. Think about getting a range of nutrients in to your day and a wide variety of foodstuffs. Ensure you cook from scratch as much as possible, eating wholegrains and starchy foods, fruit and veggies, protein and healthy fats regularly. Enjoy what you eat, stop when you are full, eat when you’re hungry and be mindful of the food that you consume but not consumed by it.
 
 

Why you should say NO to diets.

Weight loss, that seems to often be the theme for January. Which is all good, but I find it slightly frustrating that the answer people turn to is often jumping onto the next diet craze.

weight loss

Here are my top reasons why not to diet.

1. A short term fix leads to short term weight loss.

Most people want to lose weight forever. Most diets don’t result in this, they lead to some weight loss followed by the weight piling back on again. Go for long term lifestyle changes that you are going to stick to for the long haul.

2. Food is to be enjoyed.

Diets can be very restrictive and frustrating as well a limiting you socially. Food is a central part of life and socialising so it is important to find an eating plan full of foods you like, love and want to eat. Planning in treats is essential, this helps you feel like you have a bit of the “naughty” foods in your life without going over the top. If they are planned in then you know they are coming and can look forward to them. Eat well 80% of the time and treat yourself 20%,the 80/20 rule. I believe in everything in moderation.

3. Swings and roundabouts instead of slides.

Yo-yo dieting leads to your metabolism getting very confused. Instead of swinging from one way of eating to another find a consistent approach to get that weight sliding down steadily.

4. The tortoise wins the race.

Remember the tortoise and the hare story? Sometimes slowly but surely is the way to go and that is definitely the case for weight loss. Aim to lose 1-2lbs a week (0.5kg) and no more. It may not sound as dramatic or seem like you are losing the weight the speed you would  like but in the long term this will work. Too rapid weight loss usually means you are losing fluid and muscle  rather than fat.

4.Go with the science.

A lot of the time diets are not based on scientific research but on someones experience, logic and ideas. There has been a lot of researched into weight loss, so why go with someone’s ideas and not the facts? Be careful of your sources, look for a qualified professional – dietitian or registered nutritionist. Trust a dietitian to give you evidenced based advice you can believe in.

Look out for my next post on HOW to lose weight without dieting and my healthy meal planners that are coming up this month.