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Can counting calories help you lose weight, or will it just make you stressed?

Tips on how to eat less calories without counting calories.

Before answering the question, let’s talk about where the idea of counting calories comes from.

Calorie counting’s based on the idea that losing, gaining or maintaining weight depends on the number of calories we take in and use up during the day. If you’re eating more than you burn, the extra calories will get stored as fat on your body. Each pound you gain represents 3,500 calories of unused energy. So in order to lose one pound of fat, you need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories – either by taking in 3,500 fewer calories than you need or doing 3,500 calories worth of exercise. It’s recommended that no more than two pounds (7,000 calories) be lost per week for lasting weight loss.

You can lose the 3,500 calories by adding 15 minutes of moderate exercise, say walking one mile, to your daily schedule, which will use up an 100 extra calories per day . Our body uses approximately 100 calories of energy to walk one mile, depending on our body weight. If you’re consistent with this , you would use up an extra 700 calories per week used or a lose about 10 pounds in one year.

Another way is to count calories and cut out 3,500 over the course of 1 - 2 weeks. If you can have 3,500 calories less than your body needs, you could lose two pounds a month.

But can counting calories help you lose weight, or will it just make you stressed?

Yes, counting calories can help you lose weight, however, for some people it can be a trigger. When some people start tracking food, it can sometimes lead to negative feelings around food. If you already find the idea of counting calories triggering, I say avoid it at the start of your health journey. Avoid anything that can make you feel stressed when it comes to food when possible. The good thing is you can still start losing weight without counting calories. You can exercise, like I mentioned before, whilst serving your food using the following plating guidelines! I have used an illustration to make it easy to visualise.

If you prepare your meals using this ratio, because of how much space vegetables [low calorie] take on your plate versus everything else, you will by default have a lower calorie intake than if you had a plate with more grains and protein than vegetables.

Other quick tips to eat less calories without count calories:

· The more vegetables, the better: Have one day a week where all you eat are vegetarian meals. The absence of calorie-dense protein will mean you would have to eat a lot more food to overeat your calories.

· Monitor oil use: Healthy fats and oils are great because our body needs the nutrients they provide, however, because all oils are 100% fat and worth around 120 calories per tablespoon, we should make sure we aren’t using too much .

· Swap desserts for healthier options: If you eat cake, biscuits, ice cream or even if you snack on nuts dried fruits like dates, try and swap them for less calorie-dense options as often as you can, such as ,yogurt, sorbets and low-carb fruit.

· Eliminate alcohol or cut back: Alcohol contains around 7 kcal per gram. On top of adding liquid calories to your diet, it can also stimulate your appetite and weaken healthy eating intentions.

· Consider cutting out breakfast: This is because breakfast is, on average, 300 – 700 calories depending on what you like to eat. By intermittent fasting and waiting for lunch you’re reducing the number of calories you would have eaten with breakfast.

· Stop snacking: Instead of snacking try to wait for your next meal. This is because snacks are one of the things we normally eat without paying too much attention, because we’re either on-the-go or watching TV, so we end up eating more than we thought or planned.

· Avoid as many sugary drinks as you can: This includes soda and fruit juices. Even natural sugars from fruit juices, which are around 54 calories per 100ml, can add up through the day. Most of the time we drink much more than a 100ml glass.

At the end of the day, whether you choose to count calories or not, the main principle is having balanced meals where you try to have as large a serving of vegetables per meal as possible. Try to change it up if you love salad; eat all the salads, but if you prefer hot food eat cooked vegetables. Experiment and have fun.

I’m personally not the biggest fan of salads, so I mainly eat cooked vegetables. I’m also counting my calories at the same time, because it has helped on my weight loss journey and I find it fun to understand food on a deeper level. However, as I said before, when it comes to nutrition it’s not one size fits all. Do what works for you!

Till the next one!


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