Both losing and maintaining bodily fat stores are active processes. I’ve practiced different dietary methods: fasting, “clean” eating, journaling, paying attention to hunger . . .
Nevertheless, calories do have the final say on your final body composition. It’s the law of thermodynamics. Yes, your body is tightly regulated in a way that can adjust up or down, but I will not discuss that here. Just know that you cannot gain [fat] without food.
With that said, there are inherent inaccuracies when applying calorie counting to the real world. For example, one organic apple may have a different density to the next. Furthermore, it’s difficult if not impossible to know exactly how many calories you expend in a day, especially because it’s varies each day.
This does not dismiss the value of calorie counting; you just have to know its limitations. At best, calorie counting gives you a good estimate. And that’s where the value lies. As long as you’re in the “ballpark”, you’re less likely to be influenced by your environment.
Therefore, do not drive yourself crazy trying to get your numbers to the nearest calorie. At best, you’ll be closest to the nearest hundred. Furthermore, you’ll never know exactly how many calories you should budget for the day; it’s a matter of trial and error.
[personal note: I set a budget of 1200 – 1700 calories a day when I’m trying to cut, at a height of 5’11].
BOTTOM LINE TIPS FOR COUNTING CALORIES:
- Set a budget of less than 2000 calories, especially if you’re trying to cut down. Most people don’t need 2000 calories, and you must assume that for special occasions, your numbers will be way up, so you have to plan for this.
- Use a database–a nutrition book, online resource, or phone application. My favorite websites are FitDay and CalorieKing.
- Weighing your food using a digital food scale is the most accurate way to keep track of food intake, even in food items that come in a package. Measuring using tablespoons and cups are the second most accurate, and eyeballing portion sizes are the third most accurate.
- Eat at restaurants that have nutrition information on their menu. Remember, it will never be accurate (that depends on the chef), but at least you’ll have an estimate.
Summer is upon us–keep it tight.