There is no doubt that the great weight loss journey is difficult and can be a challenging one, particularly for those women who are in their 40’s and are turning to counting calories as a means to shed those extra pounds.
Calorie counting for weight loss has been one of the biggest myths that has been propagated in the weight loss industry for long and does not always give results in the long term. It’s important to understand that losing belly fat and weight loss is much more than calorie counting alone.
All foods contain a specific amount of calories. The concept of counting calories involves tracking and monitoring the number of calories that enter the body through the food and beverages that we ingest during the day.
Weight loss is based on the basic premise of calorie deficit in the body, where the energy levels in the body is measured through calories. The measure of weight loss is calculated as the difference between the calories burnt and the calorie intake in the body throughout the day. This is known as a calorie deficit.
Most of the fad diet plans and weight loss plans operate on this premise. Their primary focus is on restricting the number of calories that enter the body. Depending on the metabolism levels of the individual’s body, the calorie expenditure remains more or less the same.
When the number of calories entering the body is restricted, there is a tendency to lose weight faster as the calorie deficit is higher. However, the body starts developing other issues due to the nutrient imbalance in the body caused by the restriction of certain types of food groups in the diet plan.
Once the diet is stopped, or there is a change in the constituents, the body starts drawing out the deficient nutrients, leading to weight gain, sometimes more than what is lost, leading to a waste of efforts, both in terms of time and money.
The basic thumb rule is that in order to lose one pound of body weight, you need to create a calorie deficit of approximately 3,500 calories. This theory implies that by reducing your calorie intake by a certain amount each day, you will steadily lose weight over time. This is more sustainable in the long term as the body is not deprived from its nutrient requirements, all at once, at the same time helping with weight loss.
Weight loss efforts based on counting calories alone makes the weight loss journey more challenging as one needs to understand the deeper levels of nutrition. Common knowledge in public domain mentions that all foods contain calories.
What is not in public domain is that calories also contain micro nutrients. Some foods also contain empty calories that make the weight loss efforts even more challenging as they tend to add to the weight.
Counting calories basically relies on the estimation of calorie content in different types of food, which can be prone to error. Calorie counts listed on food labels or in databases, particularly in the case of packaged foods may not always be accurate.
Besides the chemical reactions that occur during the cooking process also alters the calorie content which the diets do not take into account. Additionally, it is challenging to accurately measure portion sizes and account for individual variations in absorption and digestion.
Hormones present in the human body, particularly in the case of female bodies, play a crucial role in regulating the systems of the body including managing the hunger levels, the level of hunger satisfaction, and the levels of metabolism in the body.
The theory based on calories counting alone for weight loss does not consider the complex interactions that influence weight loss in the body. Individual factors such as the levels of stress, sleep patterns, and underlying medical conditions in the body can disrupt hormonal balance, affecting the body’s ability to burn calories efficiently.
Nutrient-dense foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while being relatively low in calories. Focusing on nutrient-dense food choices promotes overall health and well-being. By prioritizing nutrient-dense options in the diet, the body can still manage the weight effectively, rather than counting the calories alone.
Rewinding my life two or three years back, during the period of the when I was struggling to lose belly fat, I had subscribed to, just like all others, I subscribed to an online diet plan, and like others, I too thought I was doing everything right.
I was continuously counting calories effectively, through the calorie counting app, as mentioned in the instructions and working out regularly at home. Yet, 3 months into the diet plan, the scale just would not budge, no matter how hard I tried.
Doubts and frustrations started building up in the mind by not seeing the results of the efforts and the amount of money that I had been investing on the organic and special food ingredients mentioned in the diet chart.
It wasn’t until I came across a free session offered by a nutritionist that I realized that the fault was not with the calories as mentioned in the diet chart, but my body’s nutritional requirements. I wasn’t getting enough protein in my diet as I am a vegetarian by nature.
I did run the calculation on the app for the calories mentioned in the diet, but did not realize whether my body required the calories in the same proportion as mentioned in the diet. It was not that the diet plan was bad. It was just that, due to lack of knowledge, about my own body, I did not know whether it was suitable for my body or not.
This small, but effective mismatch reflected on the calories count on the app and had a cumulative effect on the body’s functions which ultimately reflected the reading on the scale. Therefore whatever resources that I was investing, both in terms of time and money, were being wasted without giving results, and adding to the frustration as the results were not visible over time.
Though counting calories can be a useful tool in weight management, it is not the sole determinant of successful weight loss that is sustainable over time. It can be an effective method in the short term. However, there is no guarantee that it will give the same results for all.
Due to the biologically variability in different types of bodies, there are going to be inaccuracies in calorie estimations, no matter what method one uses. Therefore, taking a more holistic approach that considers overall physical and mental health factors, is the key to achieving long-term weight loss success.