If you are serious about fitness and health, you might have heard about calorie counting. You may have even tried it yourself!
Calorie counting is a nutrition strategy in which you track your calorie intake every day to manage your weight and health. It helps you to monitor the number of calories you consume from different foods, and make sure that you eat the right amount of calories to meet your goals.
A person's body weight is largely determined by their energy balance, or the relationship between the amount of calories consumed and the amount of calories burned over the course of time. Calorie counting can help us control one side of that equation, but as we'll see, calorie counting might not be the best approach for everyone.
In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of calorie counting, who should count calories, and what action steps you should take if you decide to count calories, or instead, stick to stricter guidelines.
Counting Calories or Use Stricter Guidelines - Type A vs Type B Nutrition Strategy
Before we dive deeper into calorie counting, let us first introduce two different nutrition strategies: Type A and Type B.
Type A, counting calories, is based on logging food and hitting the appropriate amount of calories for your fitness goals. Type B, on the other hand, is based on following a set of principles and guidelines for eating. Both approaches have pros and cons, and you need to know which one works best for you.
Approach A: Counting Calories
Counting calories involves tracking the energy content of the foods and beverages you consume. This method can be an effective way to manage your weight and stay on top of your nutritional intake. Here are some pros and cons of this approach:
- Gain a better understanding of the "energy" you're consuming
- Easy to adjust if you hit a plateau
- Budget for the foods you love
- Cheaper to prepare meals at home
- Requires more dedication and planning
- Involves cooking at least some meals
- Could feed negative obsessive traits
- Not sustainable for everyone
Approach B: Principles and Guidelines
This approach focuses on following general principles and guidelines for healthier eating habits. It provides more flexibility and is suitable for those who enjoy dining out or want a more sustainable long-term strategy. Here are some pros and cons of this approach:
- Less planning needed
- Suitable for those who enjoy eating out
- Ideal for those currently eating poorly
- Sustainable strategy
- Less precise than counting calories
- May not yield next-level results
- Requires mindfulness and self-control
- Might take longer to see results
So, should you count calories?
Your decision should be based on your personality type, preferences, and goals. If you're a planner, ready to cook, and looking for next-level results, Approach A is for you. If you prefer flexibility, enjoy eating out, and want a more sustainable strategy, go for Approach B.
It's important to be realistic with yourself when choosing which strategy to use. Use your past experiences, current knowledge, and understanding of your time management to help make the decision!
Once you are sure with which strategy you'll be taking, it's time to take action! Here are the action steps for each approach.
Action Steps for Calorie Counters (Approach A):
- Read our 3 Part Blog Post on Counting Calories/Macros to avoid common tracking and measurement mistakes - especially Part 3! (Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3)
- Hit your daily calorie and protein goals using the methods in Part 2 of the 3 Part Blog Post
- Experiment with carb and fat ratios to find what works best for you
- Don't stress small measurement discrepancies – aim for within 5% of your goals
- Prioritize food quality – avoid processed foods and prioritize whole, nutrient-dense foods
- Plan your meals ahead and create mock days to nail your protein and calorie goals
- Bonus: Embrace "Flexible Dieting" – enjoy occasional indulgences and free meals, but do it mindfully and without guilt while still tracking them.
Action Steps for Principles and Guidelines Followers (Approach B):
- Build your meals around a protein source
- Eat a serving of veggies and/or fruit with every meal
- Include a moderate serving of healthy fats with each meal
- Add "heavy" carbs if needed, but prioritize veggie and fruit carbs
- Avoid non-veggie and non-fruit carbs most of the time
- Avoid alcohol and stick with 0 to low calorie beverages
Wrapping It Up
In conclusion, finding the right approach to nutrition is a personal and individualized process. Whether you choose to count calories with Approach A or follow the principles and guidelines of Approach B, the key is to discover a method that aligns with your preferences, goals, and lifestyle. Both approaches can lead to healthier eating habits, better weight management, and improved overall well-being.
If you're unsure which method is right for you, don't hesitate to experiment with both and find the balance that suits you best. Remember, it's essential to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed. You might even find that combining elements from both approaches will create a unique and effective strategy tailored just for you.
As you embark on your nutrition journey, don't forget to seek support from our Stoked Athletics community, friends, and family. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals and sharing your experiences can be incredibly motivating and helpful. It's also essential to recognize that setbacks and obstacles are part of the journey. Embrace them as learning opportunities and use them to fine-tune your approach.
Lastly, always remember that nutrition is a journey, not a destination. Focus on making consistent progress and celebrating the small victories along the way. Continue experimenting, learning, and growing, and never lose sight of your goals. By maintaining a positive mindset and staying committed to your chosen approach, you'll be well on your way to a healthier and happier you.
And, as always, stay strong, Stoked Fam!