Counting calories in your diet is not the solution
Currently, it is common in many groups to base their diet mainly on counting the calories in food, regulating those they eat taking into account those they spend. Thus, the process of trying to lose weight, maintain your current state or gain weight are built on this principle.
This point of view proposes that, if you want to lose weight, the calories expended in your day to day must be higher than those you consume, thus managing to enhance total weight loss.
Now, taking care of your diet is essential for your health, and that is why we want to justify you why counting calories is not enough for it.
What are calories and what is their function?
Calories are an energy unit of measurement, and in their application to the human body quantifies the energy that our body will receive through food. The function of the calories in the daily intake is to cover the energy required for the vital functions of the body, as well as the additional actions developed.
The calories we expend naturally are derived from the functions of breathing to the pumping of the heart. The rest of the actions we do daily also consume calories, such as reading, walking or cooking.
Our body is like a machine, and our gasoline is the calories and nutrients derived from food. The more physical activity, the more food we will require to meet those requirements.
Why is counting calories not enough?
Although the body needs energy, that is not all. The intake of enough calories is a necessary but not sufficient condition: Food provides calories, but also nutrients, and the body needs them.
All foods have calories. In an extreme case, considering only the calories, you could be able to lose weight based on sweets and pizzas, as long as an intake is less than consumed in the day. What if, it is possible, but it is not healthy.
In this way, you will most likely end up getting sick in the short term, and even something that would be contradictory: you will not have enough energy or you will not feel good during the day. In addition, the weight you will lose will not be efficiently from fat, but rather you’ll probably lose a lot of muscle too. Maintaining muscle mass is necessary to have good aesthetics and health.
Are all calories the same?
This is the important point, and why we do not recommend basing a diet on calories. Calories do not react equally in our body depending on where they come fromToday, most ultra-processed foods have a multitude of empty calories; that is, they do not provide any nutrient. In addition, they deregulate our hormonal environment and later end up in the form of body fat, since it is easy to reach a caloric surplus through most of the products that today’s society consumes.
Meeting nutrients is more important than calories
To achieve a feeling of well-being and fullness, apart from good health and aesthetics, the most important thing is to quantify the total count of nutrients according to your goal and the factors of each person (diseases, allergies, pathologies, etc.).
We can classify the nutrients in the two macro groups; let’s see how they are.
Macronutrients They are the most important nutrients in our body, as it requires them in large quantities to function properly. These can be classified into three large groups, each one of them fulfills a specific function:
- Proteins: they develop the transport and structural function in our body.
- Carbohydrates: provide energy to our body.
- Fats: they are necessary so that certain types of vitamins can be absorbed and also in the process of the manufacture of hormones in humans.
Micronutrients are also necessary in our body to carry out different chemical reactions. Unlike macronutrients, we need them in small doses, and we can classify them mainly in vitamins and minerals.
Carbohydrates in our diet
Carbohydrates are one of the main sources of energy for our body; so, the amounts of these to ingest will depend largely on the physical activity you do. In addition, it is also important that you take care of what types of carbohydrates you consume.
Classification of carbohydrates
Carbohydrates can be classified between simple and complex.
They have a simpler structure, and therefore our body can assimilate them easily. They are interesting for physical activity, due to their rapid assimilation; However, they should not be abused, since they deregulate our hormonal environment. An example of a simple carbohydrate is sugar.
They are accompanied by other nutrients, such as fiber. This encourages them to be absorbed more slowly, thus avoiding damaging our hormonal environment, as long as we do not abuse them. Some examples of these are pasta, rice or potato.
Remember, if you eat more carbohydrates than your body needs, they will be stored as fat. Adapt them to your particular case, but remember, a burned food is better than an uneaten food.
The fats in our diet
Fats are another source of energy for our body, in addition to fulfilling essential functions, such as good cardiovascular health, derived from healthy fatty acids.
They are the nutrient with the highest caloric density, providing 9 calories per gram, unlike carbohydrates and proteins, which provide 4 calories per gram. We can find different types of fats in food, classifiable mainly in these categories that we will see below.
1. Saturated fat
They are necessary in their fair quantity as long as they have a correct origin for some functions, such as the creation of hormones. An example of good origin where we can find them is, for example, meat.
2. Trans fats
This type of fat it is used to modify the texture and flavor of the food. Our body does not need them, and they are harmful. We find them, for example, in ultra-processed foods.
3. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
These so-called “healthy” fats, are essential for good cardiovascular health. They are those derived from nuts, olive oil or blue fish, among other sources.
Protein in our diet
The main function of proteins in our body is structural and transporter. We can classify proteins into complete and incomplete, according to whether they have all the amino acids or lack any specific one. Amino acids are smaller particles of protein, so a protein is made up of a set of amino acids.
They contain all the amino acids. Some examples are meat or fish.
They are lacking in any amino acid. For example: legumes.
Calories matter when nutrients are met
Once the necessary nutrients are met, it is important to take into account the calories, mainly based on the goal you have. But remember, Provided the diet is varied and complete!
Based on the objective, we can summarize the following keys.
To enhance fat loss
A caloric deficit is required; that is, spending more than we eat. The deficit can be achieved through physical exercise or by regulating certain nutrients in the total count of the diet.
To gain fat or build muscle mass
A caloric surplus is required; that is, eating more than what is spent.
Health and fitness resides in the balance of habits
Seek balance in your life, this will contribute to your health and fitness.
We recommend you focus on taking care of the nutrients you consume, since this is essential to maintain a varied diet, and take into account your conditions and objectives.
In addition, it is important to also take care of healthy habits that will contribute to all this, such as physical exercise, rest and emotional balance.