Diet & Weight Loss
Calorie- Vs. Carb-Counting: Which Method’s Best?
Calorie vs. Carb Counting
From cabbage soup to carb elimination diets, there are more weight loss strategies on the market than one person could—or should—ever attempt in one lifetime. Some are more radical than others, but all have the same goal: to expedite and maintain weight loss.
However, what the majority of these diets don’t tell you is that weight loss comes down to one factor: the ratio of calories in to calories out.
Doing the Math
Calories are calories. Whether you consume calories from carbohydrates, fats, or proteins, anything that you don’t burn will be stored in your body as fuel to be used later.
For the most part, these “fuel reserves” are fat deposits that are burned after you’ve used up all the immediate energy (sugar) available in your bloodstream.
Reduce Calorie Intake to Lose Weight
In order to lose one pound, it’s estimated that you must burn 3,500 calories. In other words, if you eliminated 500 calories from your diet per day, you’d lose one pound in a week.
While the math is simple, figuring out ways to reduce your daily calorie intake consistently can be challenging. Try calorie-reducing strategies to simplify the process and keep off those extra pounds.
Sneaky High-Calorie Foods
Do you reward for getting through a stressful day with rich, high-calorie food? Perhaps you indulge in sugary snacks to compensate for sleep deprivation. What’s one slice of cheesecake and a glass of champagne to celebrate landing that new account? Or a mocha to keep you awake for the second half of the workday?
Little allowances like this can add hundreds of extra calories to your daily intake.
Make Low-Calorie Trades
Rather than give up these treats completely, try opting for their low-calorie equivalents. For example, choose either the glass of champagne or the slice of cheesecake as a celebratory treat—not both. Instead of having a mocha, add a little cocoa powder and skim milk to your drip coffee.
Remind yourself that achieving weight loss goals will be a far better reward.
Reduce Portion Sizes
Most restaurants’ standard serving size is nearly double the portion sizes recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA). Try to avoid the all-you-can-eat pitfall by stopping eating when you’re full instead of when there’s nothing left on your plate.
Reduce portion sizes by splitting an entree at a restaurant or by using smaller plates at home. You can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry.
Don’t Eat from the Container
It’s easy to curl up on the couch with a bag of chips after a long day and not realize you’ve eaten all of them until the bag is empty. To prevent mindless eating, pour a reasonable portion of the snack food into a bowl rather than eating directly from the container.
You can also divide snack foods into individual, portion-sized plastic bags as soon as you bring them home from the grocery store. This will help reduce the temptation of grabbing for the larger bag.
Read Food Labels
While there’s no need to obsess over the calorie content of the foods you eat, you should be mindful of which foods are high in calories, and which aren’t worth the indulgence. For example, many so-called “health foods” on the market have far more calories than you’d expect based on the clever marketing used by the manufacturers.
Reducing the number of calories you consume will put you on the path to weight loss. However, it’s always a good idea to combine your diet strategy with regular exercise. Not only will it help with your weight loss by burning calories, but it will also keep your body healthy and your mind clear.
- Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics. (2012, June 19). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved June 17, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/calories/WT00011
- Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger. (n.d.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 17, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/nutrition/pdf/r2p_energy_density.pdf
- Suggested Servings from Each Food Group. (2012, December 10). American Heart Association. Retrieved June 17, 2013, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Suggested-Servings-from-Each-Food-Group_UCM_318186_Article.jsp
- Weight Management. (n.d.) United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved June 17, 2013, from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories/weight-management/better-choices/decrease-portions.html