Does the Number or the Quality of Calories Matter?
Every person, based on their weight, height, age and gender needs a different amount of food and number of calories. You can roughly estimate the minimum number of calories you need to take in for your body to function well and you to stay alive and healthy. Moreover, there is also a maximum number of calories that you shouldn’t go above if you don’t want to gain weight. However, these numbers cannot be specifically calculated, because the number of calories you should eat depends on whether you are physically active or sedentary, what kinds of foods you are eating and many other factors. Normally, if you are an athlete you will need more calories than a person who spends most of their time sitting behind a desk.
Counting calories can be useful up to some point. Namely, you should be careful not to eat too little or too much, because you don’t want to become too skinny and sick, and you don’t want to be obese either (we hope). You should count your calorie intake whenever you change your eating habits or switch to other kinds of food, just to make sure you’re maintaining a certain balance and eating within the limits. Once you get used to the new diet, you won’t need to count calories, because you will know approximately how much food you should eat during each meal to satisfy your hunger and eat the right amount of calories.
What is more important than counting calories are the foods we eat. For example, it is not the same if we eat 500 calories in chocolate or in lean meat, right? First, the quality of the calories from lean meat is much better, and second, you can eat more quantity-wise when it comes to healthy foods, so you will feel fuller.
If you want to look skinny and create a caloric deficit in order to lose some weight, and you start eating only fruits or only vegetables, you will not lose only fat, but muscle too. On the other hand, taking in the same number of calories, but by eating protein rich foods, you will still lose weight, but maintain muscle.
If there are two persons of the same sex, age, height and weight, both eating 1600 calories per day, the first person eating mostly sugary fatty foods and the other eating mostly protein, the second person will look better, a lot better. The two will maybe have the same weight even after a couple of months, but the first person will have less muscle mass, more fat and will have less energy due to the lack of protein and excess of carbs. On the other hand, the person eating mostly protein will maintain lean muscle mass, the fat will melt off and they will be full of energy.
Furthermore, that the quality of food you eat is more important than the number of calories can be shown in the fact that you can overeat on salad and lean meat and not become fat, while if you overeat on cake you most certainly will. We are not saying that you should overeat on any kind of food, or that you won’t gain WEIGHT, but even if you do – that weight will be muscle, and muscle always looks better than fat.
Some world famous diets, such as Dukan or Atkins, speak about not having to worry about calories at all only if you stick to certain food groups and don’t eat anything that doesn’t belong to that group. Basically, if you eat lean meat (such as chicken, turkey, beef), fish, eggs, non-fat dairy (not more than ½ liter a day) and green vegetables unlimited, you don’t need to worry about calories at all. Of course, there are some additions to the diet (oat bran, cocoa, powdered milk, goji berries, corn starch, etc), but those foods can be eaten in limited amounts.
Basically, here is the thing. If you want to eat whatever you want, including sugary foods, and you don’t want to give them up, but you don’t want to put on weight either, you will need to start counting calories, because with sugary foods it is very easy to go overboard and eat too much. But in that case you need to realize that if your diet consists mainly of carbohydrates, you might have the wanted number on the scale, but you won’t be as lean as you might like. But with physical exercise, you can definitely improve your looks.
On the other hand, if your diet is based on proteins, and your carbs are limited, you don’t need to focus as much on the calories, because those foods don’t contain many of them and you can really eat a lot without overdoing it with calories. In that case, your body will look leaner, you will lose fat and not just weight and you will have more energy for everyday activities as well as for workouts that will make you feel and look even better. There are two paths here, the choice is yours.
Do you want to indulge in sugary pleasures and settle for second best (but still not so bad), or you want the best that the protein based nutrition gives you?