Calorie Counting And Why It Still Matters

If you have heard calorie counting is no longer important for healthy eating and diet planning, you are not alone!

 Now, more than ever, there is an overwhelming amount of misinformation about calories, dieting, and which foods are good and bad. 

The truth is, that for healthy eating… 

YES, calories matter, but they are not the only thing that matters.

Your body needs two things: energy and nutrients.

The energy your body needs is measured in calories. The term “calorie” is simply a measurement of energy. 

Like a car needs gas to run, your body needs energy. Everything you do requires energy. Walking, eating, thinking, working, exercising, and even sleeping requires energy. As an example, walking one mile requires about 100 calories of energy. 

You get energy by eating food. An apple you eat may contain 100 calories. 

By eating one apple (100 calories) and walking one mile (burning 100 calories), you achieve a net calorie count of 0. This means your body has burned all the energy (calories) that you have eaten.   

Food Eaten: 1 apple (100 calories) 

Calories Burned: Walk 1 mile (-100 calories) 

———————————— 

Net Calories: 0 calories 

The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.

For your body, this means that: 

When you eat more calories than you burn, your body stores this extra energy as fat. This is referred to as being in a calorie surpluss. 

And when you burn more calories than you eat, your body burns your stored fat, causing you to lose weight. This is referred to as being in a calorie deficit. 

So you may be thinking… “Can I lose weight by eating Twinkie and Oreos as long as I burn more calories than I eat?”

The answer is yes! 

This was proven in 2010 by Mark Haub, a Professor of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University. In this landmark research study, Haub cut his caloric intake from 2,600 calories to 1,800 while dieting primarily on Twinkies, Oreos, donuts, and chips. 

“Haub lost 27 pounds, his body fat dropped from 33.4% to 24.9% and his body mass index (BMI) went from an overweight 28.8 to a normal 24.9. Even more shockingly, his LDL, or “bad” cholesterol dropped 20% and his HDL (“good” cholesterol) increased by 20%. His triglycerides dropped 39%.” 

While this is certainly not a recommended diet, it did prove that factoring energy balance (calorie counting) is an important aspect of healthy eating. 

Critics of calorie counting argue that how many calories you eat is not as important as what you eat

There is truth in their claims! 

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that your body needs two things: energy and nutrients

While calorie counting factors your body’s energy needs, it does not take into account the essential nutrients your body needs to function optimally.   

Your body needs water, macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein), and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to survive.

So while a Twinkie diet may help you lose weight, it is important to remember weight loss (or weight gain) is not the only metric for measuring health

In addition to a proper energy balance, your body needs a healthy amount of critical nutrients to support a healthy brain, heart, digestive system, immune system, and to prevent disease. 

This is why Tari App has been designed as a calorie counter as well as a macronutrient dieting tool that also supports micronutrient and water tracking. 

To learn more about the nutrients your body needs to operate optimally, read our article: Nutrients, It’s Not Just Calories That Matter. 

Your body needs both a healthy energy balance (calorie counting) as well as proper nutrition (nutrient tracking).  

Beware of any diet that discounts the importance of either! 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC524030/
  2. http://harvardmagazine.com/2016/05/are-all-calories-equal
  3. http://www.healthcarebusinesstech.com/nutritionist-loses-27-pounds-on-twinkie-and-oreo-diet-no-really/
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