How to Count Calories for Healthier Weight Loss
It's a new year and it is time to get healthy! In theory, a calorie is a calorie. Weight gain and loss lies in a simple math problem relating the number of calories you take in versus the number of calories you burn. As you probably know, all activity burns calories -- some more than others.
Diets, no matter what type, fad or method, are a way of counting the calories taken in during the day. This is a good thing. Any plan that makes you more aware of and urges you to track the calories you eat will almost always lead to weight loss. Simply keeping track of and being in tune with what you are putting in your body will help you eat less. But all calories aren't the same, and you can improve your weight loss by not only eating less but eating smarter.
Fat has a bad reputation since the same word means the stuff you want to get rid of and the name of one of the three main sources of nutrition. And while lowering your fat intake may be a good thing, trying to eliminate fat can lead to other problems. One of the good things about fat is that it gives you more bang for the buck. Each gram of fat gives you nine calories. This is over twice the amount you get from carbs and protein. In addition to filling you up quicker, fat slows down your digestion, so it makes you feel fuller longer. This is why a low-fat diet is so difficult to maintain. It takes more food to keep you feeling full. But some fats are better than others. Stick to polyunsaturated fats and food with omega-3 fats for healthier calories.
Carbs have also taken a bad rap in recent years, and the no-carb and gluten-free diet fads have helped to fuel the fire. But carbs are where you get your energy. It is not a trivial decision that world-class marathoners load up on carbohydrates before a race. These simple calories are what provides the fuel to finish the run.
But there are three main types of carbs. Sugar, starch, and fiber are all part of the carbohydrate family. Fiber has no nutritional value and thus is discarded by the body, but it aids in digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer. You know that eating fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet and part of this is due to the natural fiber they provide. Filling up on high fiber calories is almost like a free ride. Starch, such as that which comes from potatoes and rice give you more body clean burning fuel for energy. This type of energy can also be stored in the body for short periods for energy when you need it. Sugar, on the other hand, is mostly just empty calories. Its energy burns off quickly leaving fructose to be processed by your liver. Cut down on all sugar in your diet and eliminate processed sugar wherever you can.
Protein is the king of calories. There are low-fat diets and low-carb diets, but almost no one goes on a low protein diet. Protein also helps you feel fuller longer by slowing digestion. Proteins just naturally take longer to digest than carbs and most fats. Protein is also burned during exercise along with carbs for energy. But just like with fat, some proteins are better than others. Stick to eggs and lean protein for better quality proteins. Even lean meat adds sufficient fat to the diet without overloading your system with extra calories.
It's great that you are counting calories, but pay attention to which calories you eat and your weight loss program will go quicker and healthier.