Don’t Count Your Calories

Looking for simple and not very ways to improve life and explain why they work. Today we are figuring out why counting calories is not the wisest idea and how to provide yourself with a balanced diet without chasing conventional numbers.

Striving for a healthy diet, many are eager to calculate the calorie content of everything they eat. It’s hard to resist when the Pinterest communities regularly publish menus for 1300 kcal, and the gloss never gets tired of using the word “low-calorie” as a synonym for useful. And now the prospect of going to a restaurant where food labels with energy value are not attached to the dishes begins to cause panic, and it is not possible to try a treat prepared by a friend himself. There is also a haphazard craving for counting calories, when, after two burgers, washed down with a liter of cola, a person starves himself for the rest of the day out of guilt for shamelessly exceeding the norm.

Photo by NeONBRAND / Unsplash

We declare with confidence that it is impractical to base the daily diet, starting solely on the total number of calories. The numbers indicated on the packaging of the product are in fact very far from the amount of energy that the body will receive by digesting and assimilating this product. Besides, the energy value is determined only mathematically, without any chemical analysis, and therefore is very conditional. Most often, the manufacturer takes a product recipe, calculates the number of nutrients, and then adds up the calorie content, starting from the basic setting: one gram of protein or carbohydrate contains 4 kcal, one gram of fat – 9 kcal, alcohol – 7 kcal.

Counting calories is Sisyphean labor. You can never know the exact amount in a farm chicken breast or a glass of unspecified beans. Moreover, all organic substances are assimilated by the body in different ways: animal protein and protein shakes – by 95–97%, vegetable protein – by about 60%. Digestibility also depends on a number of individual characteristics of the digestive tract and even on how thoroughly we chew food.

It turns out that there is no point in counting the calories themselves since these numbers are rather arbitrary. It is worth paying attention to the real composition of the product, that is, the ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. If you gain a daily calorie intake, but you do not have enough protein, the body will not begin to build muscle, but will “burn” existing ones. By cutting fat to a minimum and increasing your carbohydrate intake, you are more likely to gain weight, even cutting your calorie intake by 20%. Professional bodybuilders and avid amateur athletes weigh food before cooking and calculate an approximate daily balance of nutrience, which in fact turns out to be very effective.

Photo by Sam Moqadam / Unsplash

For those who can do without such restrictions, it is enough to roughly figure out a reasonable ratio of nutrients: having eaten oatmeal with honey and fruit for breakfast, and pilaf for lunch, in the evening it is worth limiting carbohydrates and leaning on proteins and green vegetables. In any case, the habit of overeating cake in order to sit on water with lemon for the next 24 hours is not just harmful – it inevitably leads to stress, which means it is rejected by us without any doubt.

Anastasia Fetter

Anastasia Fetter