by Becky Graham | May 2018 03

Is it worth counting calories?

For weight loss, traditional advice has always been to monitor calorie intake, after all if you burn more calories than you're eating you'll lose weight right? Well it's not quite so simple.

Calorie counting is far from an exact science and not something that I would ever recommend as a Nutritional Therapist. Government recommendations state that women should generally consume around 2000 kcals per day, however where you are getting these calories from can vary greatly in terms of the impact on your body.

A calorie from a processed burger will have a completely different effect to a healthy portion of good quality fats from an avocado. It’s far more beneficial (and a much healthier mindset) to focus on the quality of food and the amount of nutrients they contain rather than the amount of calories.

Fats are higher in calories (approximately double that of protein and carbs), however they are slowly digested helping with appetite satiety and are important for manufacturing hormones involved in appetite regulation. They can therefore be beneficial for improving metabolism and encouraging weight loss, as well as supporting female and stress hormones. Many factors influence how many calories we need, and individual requirements vary greatly depending on height, weight and activity levels, but the best approach is simply to pay attention to the signals from your body – try to eat when you are genuinely hungry and stop when you are full.

Eating ‘mindfully’ can be a good tool – try to focus on each mouthful and chew thoroughly, appreciating its ability to nourish your body. Remember it can take 20 minutes for your brain to register what you are eating, so take your time and aim to eat until 80% full. A handy trick is to set a 20 minute timer on your phone, this will help you feel full and satisfied, rather than stuffed and frustrated.


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