Is counting calories necessary for weight loss?

Is counting calories necessary for weight loss?

"Calories " .We are in a modern era . We have different types of gadgets. We like to use mostly all of them . We are becoming knowledgeable day by day . We know everything about medicine. Whenever a doc prescribes a medicine we check it on the Internet. We type symptoms if we or our loved ones have some health problems on the search option and know what our problem is . We are totally dependent on the Internet for our daily lives. We have many apps to count calories, we type the food items before consuming it ,we calculate the calories so that at the end of the day we can treat ourselves with a big sundae or a cheese burger, because we have so much of "calorie balance" as per the device . Aren't we fooling ourselves? Is this the proper diet we should follow? I was spellbound by one of my dietitian friends who follow this type of app for her diet.

"Food is not just a calorie my dear. Calorie is far more important."

Sometimes many of us feel hungry after eating a meal . We have counted the calories earlier so we are happy that we have consumed less calories than we should so we will lose weight quickly but we are hungry, we are frustrated, irritated.

Calorie is the measurement of energy. We store energy in the form of fat , protein and carbohydrates.

We need energy for

  • basal metabolism
  • to build and replace tissue
  • to compensate for excretory loss
  • daily physical and mental activities.
  • Our cells also utilise energy to maintain a high intracellular concentration of potassium and low concentration of sodium.

The requirements of energy varies with:-

  1.  Age: The energy requirement is assumed to remain unchanged between 20 and 39 years of age. It decreases 5%per decade between 40 and 59 , by 10%from 60 to 69 . Beyond that, a further 10 %reduction is there. If someone has a good appetite so much of reduction will lead to craving so it has to be planned accordingly.
  2. Physical activity: But if you are working in a gym to shed down the extra weight; extra calories not needed.
  3. Menstrual Cycle: Healthy women consume more energy in the ten days before menses than in the ten days after. Energy intake is lowest during the ovulatory phase and high during luteal phase. But it's a myth that estrogen is an appetite suppressant.
  4. Pregnancy and lactation: Lactating women needs more energy than pregnant women.
  5. Climate: Energy requirements change in extreme climates.

These are the factors one should consider for counting calories, but on a daily basis there is no need of counting calories.

 We should eat well. If we eat processed food the food is easily absorbed and we feel hungry afterwards. The satiety value is less . If we eat a full meal of a balanced diet consisting of whole cereals, pulses or beans or egg or chicken or fish with two or three coloured vegetables and yoghurt and fruits . Use little oil for cooking. We don't have to count the calories.

Stop munching between the meals . If you have a full meal you won't be feeling like munching afterwards.Sometimes we are thirsty so we feel hungry so drink one or 2 glasses of water between meals.

Eat natural foods , love your food, eat food as a food not medicine or diet supplement, do not trouble yourself by counting the calories. Let it be done by a nutritionist or dietitian. You have a lot to do in life. So enjoy yourself.

Dt. Mallika Majumdar
ESPEN Certified

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