5 Things You Need To Know Before You Start Counting Calories

Counting calories is probably one of the most polarizing practices when it comes to food and diet. Some people claim that it’s the only way to actually be mindful of what you eat and lose weight, while others insist that it’s harmful and it leads to an unhealthy relationship with food. The truth is not nearly that black and white, But if you are planning on starting, here’s what you need to know before you start counting calories.

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It’s not for everyone

Different people have different experiences and relationships with food. This means that counting calories can work for some people, but it can be extremely harmful for others. After all, monitoring all your meals this closely can get very stressful very fast. If you have a history of eating disorders or are very competitive and get easily obsessed with things, you should probably steer clear of calorie counting. You also shouldn’t attempt this if your goal is to restrict yourself to a certain number as a reward or punishment system.

It can help you be mindful of your meals

If you do not fit the above criteria, calorie counting can actually be useful. It’s a great way to practice mindfulness and find out exactly what you are eating and when. It can help you actually realize how much sugar, fats or carbohydrates you are eating and recognize patterns that might explain some of your nutritional deficiencies.

You should always set a time limit

No matter your motivations, you should not be counting every calorie every day. You could try doing it for three days a week (including one day of the weekend… we tend to eat different on our days off). This is a great tool if your goal is to find out how many calories you are eating and track your eating habits. It is better if you set a fixed timeline with a nutritionist.

It won’t actually help you lose weight

At least, not by itself. Sure, in theory is really simple: you need to eat less calories than you burn every day if you want to lose weight. If a pound is 3,500 calories, you can cut out 500 a day to lose a pound in a week. Simple math, right? Except, not every calorie is created equal and your metabolism can be affected by a thousand different factors. Simply counting calories will do nothing for your weight, you want to do a comprehensive lifestyle change for this.

Reading labels is harder than it sounds

Labels are tricky because some manufacturers like to use ambiguous language or list ridiculously small portion sizes, so their products  look “healthier”. So be prepared to use a lot of math. You will also be googling a lot, since fresh produce doesn’t usually come with labels. And if you go out to eat to a restaurant, it’s a completely different can of worms.

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