When people think of calorie counting, they cringe, and while all of us wish we could eat whatever we want without gaining weight, for most of us this is simply not reality and not how it works.
While there are some people who can eat what they want and not gain weight, most of us have to watch our diet closely and pay close attention to the food we consume.
Counting calories is one way people have decided to take charge of their fitness and lead a healthier lifestyle. Along with counting calories, they may decide to go on a low-carb diet in an effort to lose weight.
There may be some confusion about calorie counting and what it actually entails and how it can benefit you, but also if it is necessary when you are on a low-carb diet. To figure out the answer to this question, it is important to understand what each entails and their purposes.
WHY PEOPLE COUNT CALORIES
The idea behind calorie counting is the basic formula of calories in and calories out. The goal is to burn more than you eat so to create a calorie deficit that results in either weight loss or healthy weight management.
Typically, tracking calorie intake and being mindful of physical activity you are performing is key to maintaining a healthy weight and staving off overweight and obesity that cause serious health problems for the body.
The calorie formula takes into account your height, weight, activity levels and age in order to determine the correct number for you. For those who workout every day can eat much more food and still lose weight, while those who are sedentary will have to lower their daily intake.
Use an online calorie calculator and plug in your data and then play around with the activity settings and you will see the big differences in allowed calories between sedentary and active lifestyles.
WHAT IS A LOW CARB DIET
A low carb diet is an eating plan that greatly reduces carbohydrate food intake. Carbohydrates include simple sugars, likes sweets and dairy and complex carbs like grains, including, bread, rice, and pasta.
Various low carb plans exist, some that heavily restrict carb intake, like the Atkins diet plan, and others like South Beach that allow you to eat more carbs and more variety of carbs.
There are also those who simply reduce their intake of carbs without following any structured diet plan. For example, many cut out refined sugar and foods made from it from their diet, and some only eat whole grains, and skip all the refined white starches, like rice and pasta, such as the case with bodybuilders.
DOES COUNTING CALORIES HELP WITH A LOW-CARB DIET?
Since calorie counting keeps people on track of their fitness goals, it may actually be beneficial for people to do so while they are on a low-carb diet.
Yes, you are consuming less carbs, but it is still important for you to know how many calories are in the foods you are eating, because the calorie deficit is important with or without carbs. Therefore, even if you are on a low-carb diet, if you are consuming too many calories, you may not see any results.
For example, meat and chicken have no carbs, and it is a staple of most low carb diets. However, steak and chicken are high in calories, so should you eat a 1-pound steak with each meal this can really result in a massive calorie intake that can stall your progress.
APPETITE CONTROL WITH LOW CARB
However, it should be noted that many who follow a low carb diet find that their appetite becomes much more under control than those who eat carbs.
Simple sugars especially cause blood sugar spikes that cause out of control cravings in the body and generally result in people eating much more food on a daily basis than they really need.
On a low carb diet, one that includes lots of green vegetables and lean protein people’s cravings disappear, and they report feeling full and satisfied with much less food than they used to eat before going low carb.
In this case, calorie counting may not be necessary because hunger signals are normalized within the body, out of control, cravings for sugar are gone, and the dieter eats to satisfy genuine hunger, which most of the time means they do not over eat.
Everyone is different. The decision to count or not really depends on you and your results, if you find that you are eating more calories than you should on a low carb diet and not seeing your weight loss goals realized, you may need to determine your requirements and start monitoring caloric intake.