Why Do We Count Calories?

Why Do We Count Calories?

Dieting and exercise can be difficult to manage in our modern fast-paced world. Where to begin is often the most dreaded part because we don’t know where to start. One way to kickstart a new diet or exercise goal is to learn about the calorie, and their importance to our health. So, let’s talk about why we count calories and the impact they have on us.

The History Of The Calorie

Calories have a fascinating origin story. Originally, the calorie was used as a scientific measurement to determine the amount of energy needed to heat water. Eventually, the calorie drifted their way into nutrition. All in order to determine the amount of energy food products contain. It’s only around 1887 – when the science of nutrition was gaining traction – that the calorie began to propagate itself into modern lives. 

calorie counting
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One of the first books written about calories in the diet was created by the author Lulu Hunt Peters. Peters wrote the bestseller Diet & Health: With Key to the Calories in 1918. In it, she describes portions of food, and how calories can help one regulate their weight. This book was credited as being responsible for further amping up the calorie craze. 

Why Do We Count Calories?

Since a calorie is a unit of energy, counting calories can help you determine how much energy your body needs to thrive from day-to-day. The body uses calories to perform its basic functions and determines where the energy from food needs to go. Having a grasp on counting calories can help individuals determine what their proper diets should be. As well as helping individuals to understand where to make adjustments for better overall health. 

Do You Need To Count Calories To Lose Weight?

It’s been determined by dietary specialists and those in the scientific community that if you want to lose weight, counting calories is the best way to go. In order to lose weight, you need a calorie deficit. When we take in excess calories into our bodies, whatever the body doesn’t use during the day gets stored for later in the form of fat deposits. If you eat more calories than your body can get rid of throughout the day, you gain weight. What causes weight loss, is when you take in fewer calories. This deficit causes the body to take the energy from the fat deposits, instead. 

Is It Better To Count Calories Or Eat Healthy?

Having a combination of nutritious meals and counting calories is the best way to go. A calorie is a calorie, but not all foods are created equal. Nor do they have the same nutritional content. For example, consuming more fibrous foods can help you feel full longer, thus decreasing your likelihood of taking in too many calories by snacking. This is what we call caloric density – the denser the food, the more calories there are.

Why do we count calories
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If you’re counting calories, but eating higher fattening foods like bacon, high content dairy, etc. you can end up consuming over half your calorie allotment before the end of the day. By eating body-friendly foods such as fruits and vegetables that keep you full, it’ll decrease your likelihood of going over your daily calorie intake. 

What’s A Good Caloric Intake? 

The number of calories a body needs to function will vary from person to person. And therefore depends on many factors such as lifestyle and general diet. However, in the UK it is recommended that women consume 2,000 calories a day while men consume 2,500. The PHE or Public Health England recommends going a step further, and reducing calorie content to 1,800 over the three main meals breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

As much as a calorie-counting diet (and general dieting) are recommended to have a better quality of life, it is up to you to determine your body’s needs and what sort of energy you require to thrive. We have some articles to help you get to grips with the basics, so you can understand what works best for you.

Helpful Tips To Count Calories

Eat Smaller Portions 

Eating smaller portions of food can greatly help you keep track of your calorie intake. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that huge portions have a lot of calories, especially if it’s a meal we favour (my go-to is pasta, so don’t feel guilty!).  A useful tool to help you keep track of portions and calories is a portion plate. They come in different varieties, so if one doesn’t seem to fit your lifestyle or dietary needs, there are plenty to choose from. 

calories burned running
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Invest In A Calorie Counter 

 Calorie counters come in all shapes and sizes. Many varieties can be purchased on Amazon, and can even be downloaded in the app store of your mobile phone. Having a Fitbit is great if you’re on the go counting calories exercising. Although, if you’re looking for something a little cheaper, a simple digital pedometer is great to have as a basic option.

Eat The Right Kinds Of Calories 

Try not to blow your calorie budget on foods such as sweets, desserts, and soft drinks. While they may have enough calories to fit in your diet, your overall health will not benefit. Instead focus on nutrient-dense foods such as fruit, vegetables, and whole grains to ensure your caloric needs are met. 

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