What is a Calorie?
A Calorie is simply a unit of energy – a measurement just like inches or degrees. The food you eat has energy in the form of calories that are locked up in protein, fats and carbohydrates.
How many calories should you eat?
The average female needs around 2000 calories per day to maintain energy and weight. The average male need about 2500 calories to maintain energy. The exact number will vary due to a multitude of factors such as output, exercise, age, illness and so on.
Not all calories are created equal.
Whilst two completely different foods can have the same number of calories, they will have completely different nutritional value and benefits.
For example, there are roughly 100 calories in a banana and 100 calories in a chocolate bar.
A banana contains:
Slow releasing carbs
A chocolate bar is mainly carbs, sugar and fat.
The energy (calories) and nutrients from the banana will be used to fuel bodily functions, such as building muscle. The energy from the cereal bar will be stored as fat.
Secondly although they have the same calories one will leave you hungry an hour later and the other will keep you full and energised. Can you guess which one will keep you fuller?
Thirdly, you can eat A LOT more when food is unprocessed and
contains whole ingredients. You will feel satisfied and less likely to be hungry
an hour later.
So, you can see that two foods can have the same number of calories, but how they are utilised and how they satisfy us are completely different.
Why we shouldn’t count calories?
Counting calories is time consuming and damages our health. It reduces the importance of food to a simple equation and ignores the connected biological machine that is our body.
Health is SO much more than calories in vs calories out.
Counting calories distracts you from listening to your body and eating intuitively.
Do any of these sound familiar?
“I still have some calories left today, so need to eat something”
“I can’t have anything as I have run out of calories for today”
Our bodies are not robots, and will need different energy
requirements on different days. Slowing down and listening to your body and its
needs is one of the greatest things you can do.
Should anyone count calories?
As a nutritionist, I work with many weight loss clients. Some come to see me tracking their calories (usually those with a history of faddy diets) or they have no awareness of energy or calorie requirements.
Neither of these approaches are healthy.
For most people, it is important to have an overall awareness of macronutrients and energy requirements. I educate clients on the role of macronutrients, healthy portion sizes, the healthy eating plate, and benefits of moving more.
Instead of tracking calories, I ask my clients to keep a note of what they are eating and send me pictures of their food. This is because so often we snack or graze and don’t even register what we have eaten, or we are unaware of our portion sizes.
When you start to write down what you are eating, you can look back and identify eating patterns and any unhealthy habits. This shifts your mindset away from numbers addressing eating patterns and habits instead.
A healthy weight is a by-product of a healthy lifestyle.
If any of this resonates with you, drop me a message or book your free 15 minute consultation. I would love to hear from you.