When it comes to weight loss, plans are a dime a dozen. What many will tell you, though, is that dieting is all about calories in vs. calories out. While this is true, it’s a bit more complicated than that for several reasons. Calorie counting can certainly help you lose weight, but it might not be the most sustainable method for everyone, and there are definitely other options out there!

Basics of calorie counting

So again, the basic principle behind weight loss is that you need to expend more calories than you are taking in. When you do this, your body turns to your fat stores to get energy. So people who count calories find out about how many calories their body expends during the day, then try to eat less than that amount daily in order to maintain a calorie deficit. 

Is calorie counting the best idea for everyone?

Simply put: no. Calorie counting can be very tedious for some. People often go to extremes and measure or weigh out every single thing that they eat. For those on a very strict diet this may be necessary, but, for the average person, they can burn out really quickly by doing this. This also feels like a diet…a word many people associate with deprivation and with being temporary. People are more likely to stick to a certain way of eating if they address it as a lifestyle change, a way of living well and a habit for life. People may also become tempted to severely lower their calories in order to lose weight faster, which not only can be detrimental to your body and overall health but also is more likely to result in yo-yo dieting where the person gains the weight back soon after losing it and going off their diet. And when people go over their calorie allotment for the day, even by a little, they often feel as if they have “cheated” or failed that day, which is an unhealthy mindset to have!

An overall approach to health

A more balanced approach is always best. Remember, we need to make this a lifestyle adjustment and a change for life! Thinking of your diet in terms of nourishing your body, eating foods that feel good in and for your body. Aim for mostly whole food, fruits and vegetables, wholesome beans and legumes, whole-grain bread, and grass-fed meats, and other dairy products. Use plenty of herbs and spices for flavor, nutrients and additional health benefits. Reframe the word diet to how you nourish yourself. A “diet” CAN be satisfying and taste good, and last a lifetime when done right! By cutting out fast foods, white sugar, refined flours, and processed food you will start seeing a drop in weight without having to calorie-cut. Eat for satisfaction and until you are full, and practice stopping when you’re satisfied. Adding exercise to the mix certainly helps in terms of losing weight, stress reduction (to combat stress eating or reaching for unhealthy fast food), and an overall sense of wellness. 

So instead of restrictive diets or time-consuming weighing and measuring and recording, give eating healthier a chance. Your weight will go down, and, even better, your overall health and well-being will improve in ways you probably didn’t even realize could happen just from diet alone.