(Watch the video or read below.)
Some say counting calories doesn’t matter,
but it can make the difference between success or failure in weight loss and weight maintenance. If you’re eating clean foods and exercising and still struggling to lose weight or maintain weight, learning a bit more about the calories that you eat and burn could be a big help for you. In fact, this could be what’s standing between you and the body you really want.
I can’t tell you how many clients have come to me and said “Luci, I exercise and I eat only real, healthy foods and I’m not seeing any change in my body”. Then we start logging their foods…
Most of the time we find out that they’ve been overeating their calories. by upwards of 500 calories per day- even with exercise.
It’s been shown time and again through research that most people overestimate calories they burn during exercise, and underestimate the calories they eat.
And that’s especially easy if they haven’t learned much about calories. If you eat out a lot, it’s an even easier mistake. For example:
On the weekends I’ll go out for an hour and a half bike ride and burn about 700 calories.
It’s not easy. It’s up and down the rolling hills of California. I can burn 1,000 cal if I ride for two hours. And if I rode for the same amount of time on flat ground I’d burn less.
If I hadn’t learned about calories and my body, I’d definitely have thought I burn more on that ride.
Most of the time I finish the ride and get home right in time to make dinner. So we come home and make and eat a pretty big dinner. I eat more than normal, but not more than about 30% more of what I normally eat. And by the time I’m finished, I’m full.
Most likely I’ve not eaten back those calories nor do I try to. I’ll just let those calories be a deficit that’ll carry-on throughout the week. Will I be hungrier for the next few days? Sometimes yes. And if so, I’ll allow myself to eat a little bit more of my regular foods at my mealtime.
This past weekend I went on that same bike ride with a friend and then we went out for dinner.
Needless to say, my diet was a little bit different that night. And if I didn’t know a thing or two about calories I could’ve easily eaten back everything I burned during my ride and more.
We ate at a restaurant that is very particular about where they get their meat and how it’s farmed (aka: clean, healthy protein). We each ordered a salad and a burger of our own and, we ordered a plate of pasta to split. Normally I don’t eat pasta at restaurants. Not because pasta is carbohydrate, but because restaurants often do things with pasta that makes it way more caloric then it would be otherwise. (Not to mention, you can make it for so much less money at home.) This restaurant was no exception. When our pasta came out it was dripping in oil, and more.
I did a little calculating in my head and I estimated that dish was at least 1400 calories.:
At least 600 calories worth of oil, at least 400 calories worth of pasta, at least 200 calories worth of cheese, and at least 200 calories worth of butter.
Because I’m familiar with calories, my friend and I didn’t finish the plate. We treated it like a dessert.
You know the kind made with lots of cream and sugar, except it was oil cheese and butter. So, as I would do with any dessert at a restaurant, I allowed myself a few fork fulls and then I was done.
By the way, this meal was not as filling as most
of the meals I make it home after a bike ride because it wasn’t as fiber full and nutrient dense. Actually, I was still hungry when I got home that night.
So I had my carbs at home: A baked potato with a huge dollop of low fat Greek yogurt, and about 4 cups of kale chips that I made the night before, all for about 340 calories.
Now let’s back up. If I wasn’t familiar with calories,
I would have gone for a very difficult bike ride that burned 700- 1000 calories and probably overestimated the amount that I burned. I would’ve eaten at that restaurant until I was satisfied, and eaten that whole plate of pasta and then some. I could’ve eaten 1,400 cal just for dinner. Easily.
And if you’re not familiar with calories you may not know that that one meal was equal to or more than most women burn in a day.
Of course understanding calories isn’t the only thing you need
to be optimally healthy. But it plays a part in understanding food and energy. It’s only one part of the energy balance system that I help my clients to understand, but it is an important part if you’re looking to start stabilizing your weight and get a hold on making good choices when it comes to eating.
Do you have to count calories for your entire life? No way!
You just need to get familiar with how much you need to eat, and what a balance of calories looks like for you. Create your healthy habits around that, and from there it’s a piece of cake!
Every now and then you might want to do a periodic check if you start eating totally differently. Or if your exercise level changes to make sure you’re getting enough, but not too much, But you don’t have to do it every day or every meal forever.
Something simple you can do to make headway in this area:
Grab any one of the calorie counting apps that are available for free, and do a little observational study on yourself. Take a look at where you are and what you need to be doing calorie-wise. Of course, a professional can help you to navigate the information and pick out small details that you may may miss. But you can certainly get started on your own and get some great information with the available technology we have today.
Comments are open. Are you familiar with your own calorie needs and balance? Let us know in the comments below.