Health and Wellness

Counting Calories: Necessary for healthy lifestyle?

This guest post was submitted by Chris Adelman. Everyday EMS Tips always welcomes guest post submissions from EMS professionals, EMS educators, and EMS students. All others are asked to first make a contribution to the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride, see submission guidelines, before submitting a post. I appreciate Chris’ submission and his contribution to the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride. 

This article discusses whether counting calories is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. It looks at some of the common mistakes people make when counting calories, and suggests a few ways to stay healthy without relying on calorie counting.

Counting Calories: Necessary for healthy lifestyle?

There is plenty of advice to be found on the internet about whether counting calories is necessary for staying healthy. If you search for popular programs such as the Dash Diet program you will see recommendations to eat less than 2000 calories a day. However, staying healthy relies on a combination of good eating, exercise and rest. Calorie counting can help you pursue a healthy lifestyle, but it is not the only way to stay healthy. In fact, calorie counting can even be detrimental to your health if you’re making some of the following mistakes.

Overeating is clearly unhealthy, but we will look at the top three mistakes that can mean counting calories won’t make you healthy either:

1.    Not all Calories are the same

If you think that counting calories will keep you healthy, then you need consider the food groups that you are consuming those calories from. You can get calories from healthy and nutritious food, or you can get calories from sugary and fatty food. Calories are the energy your body needs to stay working, but clearly sugary and fatty food is not going to keep you healthy. Instead, you could look at diets such as the cabbage soup diet or the Dash Diet online which you will see suggest you to restrict certain types of food, and not just the calories you consume.

There is a term for calories that won’t contribute to a healthy lifestyle. These are called empty calories. You get empty calories from eating junk food – and while you might think that you had a good day by keeping within a calorific limit you still won’t have contributed to living a healthy lifestyle.

2.    Keeping Score Takes Effort

There are so many ways to stay healthy, and they all require effort. You might stay healthy by exercising, by reducing your stress or following something like the dash diet. Each one of them takes will power, and will power is not a limitless resource. If you expend all of your will power staying under a certain number of calories it could mean you don’t find the energy to put your walking shoes on and go on a healthy hike. Food is not the only determiner of healthy and if all of your mental effort gets wasted counting calories, the simpler tasks that can improve your health might get missed.

3.    Your Estimates Might be Way Off

If you rely on calorie counting to live a healthy lifestyle, and then you get the numbers wrong, you could find that you put on weight. This is especially true if you eat out at restaurants where it can be very easy to get the calorie count wrong. Restaurants aren’t always transparent with the number of calories in any given meal. The larger the meal is, the harder it is going to be for you to judge it. And, when you feel like you have gone over your limit once it can be very tempting to blow out with a big cup of pudding as well. Moreover, calorie counting is already difficult at home where portions aren’t always measures out perfectly.

As you can see there are many mistakes you can make when counting calories. These mistakes could lead you to wasting precious time and energy recounting and recalculating. This leaves less time for putting on your running shoes and going out for a walk or a hike. Counting calories is not necessary for a healthy lifestyle, it might even lead to you being less healthy.

This article was written by Christian Adelman, an experienced dietitian and fitness enthusiast. Christian believes that a DASH Diet and regimented exercise routine can get anyone into great shape. Christian also enjoys reading, biking and vacationing in the Caribbean.