It’s funny how calorie counting was made evil by all these diet gurus. If you take a careful look at any weight loss plan, you’ll find that the amount of calories you consume and amount of calories you spend are still the key. And it includes Atkins – yes, even low-carb guys! Just to be clear – I am not an enemy of low-carb. I actually like the idea and know that it works (although I have a hard time to stick to it). However, the amount of calories still plays a crucial role.
Why this happened?
First of all, there is a lot of money involved. Being a successful weight loss guru pays off. Just take a look at this article by Smart Money. Sad, isn’t it? But it’s true. Just think of all these shakes, supplements, ready meals, and most importantly, DESSERTS (which are nothing more than STRESSED spelled backwards by the way ;-))! If you are doing low-carb, it’s hard to get away without all these low-carb cookies, pastas and chocolate. I mean, really most people can’t! Add to this all diet books, cookbooks and meal plans you buy.
Even when you finally lose weight, the guru will try to get you follow his eating plan, because HE believes that’s how it was thousands, nay, millions (according to what he says) years ago. Ridiculous! There is no proof for that. These are only their theories and imagination. Low-carb works, but there is no need to make up history to support their claims. The only obvious thing is that they want your money.
Why calorie counting works
Besides real scientific research and obvious results, there are many other reasons why calorie counting is the way to go. I came up with some of these reasons (feel free to add more in comments).
You don’t crave
You are not obsessing about any single type of food. While it’s true you are concerned about calories, you still can eat anything you want, provided you are registering everything properly and making modifications accordingly. You could eat 5 chocolate bars per day (which I did) and still lose weight. Just make sure you choose lighter foods for your other meals. And you don’t even have to fix your binge the same day, you actually can…
Fix it next day
Simply eat lighter food next day or even on the course of next few days. Once you deal with real numbers, you have the knowledge, and knowledge is power. For example, you want to lose 1 pound per week. This means you need to cut your calorie intake by 3500 calories per week. If I know my weight is stable at 1700 per day, I would eat about 1200 calories per day to reach my weight loss goal. Alternatively I could eat 1500 calories and spend other 300 calories exercising. Now if I ate 2000 calories because I was invited to a wedding party (or simply felt like eating), I need to create a deficit of additional 800 calories during the next few days. I would probably increase exercise on some days and eat less than 1200 calories on other days. I am not saying it’s easy, but you do have options and you do understand what’s going on.
Calorie counting is the cheapest way to lose weight. You don’t need any special equipment and you don’t need to buy any special foods. The only thing you need to do is to spend a little time to count calories in food at every meal, ideally before you eat it. It does take time in the beginning, but it becomes easier as you progress. In addition, you start realizing why you gained weight in the first place. There is no room for speculation, there is no estimation – just hard numbers.
Figure out your unique numbers
If your metabolism is slow you have a chance of figuring out your individual numbers. For some people the standard BMI calculation won’t work. However, with a little trial and error, they will figure out the exact numbers that work for them.
Never gain weight again
When you know your hard numbers, you know how to maintain your ideal weight. If you know you start gaining weight when you consume more than 1700 per day, you have a clear plan on how to stay slim. You either eat only 1700 calories or you add exercise and eat more.
You can choose the pace you are comfortable with
If you have a lot of weight to lose you can be a little more strict in the beginning. However, it’s hard to continue eating only 1000-1200 calories a day. You can increase the amount of calories you eat and lose weight slowly and steadily.
Once again, I am not saying it’s easy. Limiting yourself in anything you want has always been hard for most people. But this can be done. Fortunately, there are plenty of online calorie counters, BMI counters and support online. Losing weight is not as lonely as it used to be 10 years ago. You have forums, blogs, and support groups – all available at virtually no cost to you.