Keto, 5:2, low-carb – whatever your diet choice, it's still all about the calories.
Whichever diet you're choosing to follow, creating a calorie deficit is the foundation of every diet. That's right everydiet. Every. Single. One. If a weight loss program works for you, it's because you've reduced calories enough to create a deficit.
No matter which way you cut it, tracking calories is still one of the simplest and easiest ways to lose weight.
Calories in, calories out – or CICO in common parlance – is based on the premise of eating fewer calories than the amount you burn: the bottom line is that if you eat more calories than you need, you'll inevitably gain weight.
Of course, you could simply estimate how much you're eating but it's smarter to look at the real numbers to find out and track actual calories eaten, calories burned through exercise, and how to save calories with savvy swaps.
There's an opinion in some camps that calorie counting isn't important and the science is outdated. While we now know that not all calories are equal in terms of nutritional quality (100 calories of broccoli is better than 100 calories of chocolate), and it seems our bodies use calories from different foods differently (we don't release all the calories from almonds for example), in the absence of any other simple measure, counting calories is still very relevant and our best way of 'guesstimating' how much energy we are consuming.
The key is to combine calorie counting with the nutrient knowledge: if you understand what's in the food you're eating, you can make more informed, healthier choices.
One calorie and nutrition tracking App that's taking on the big boys is Nutracheck, which regularly beats Weight Watchers for the number of UK App Store downloads and has a higher App Store rating than MyFitnessPal. With a superfast barcode scanner, over 250,000 UK food and drink items to choose from, and the option to select up to 7 nutrients to track, it's super easy to keep tabs on what – and how much – you're eating.
Said Nutracheck nutritionist Emma Brown: "While any weight loss will require a change to eating habits, it doesn't mean cutting out whole food groups. Aim for regular meals and a balanced diet, and be mindful of portion sizes. You might be eating a healthy balance of foods, just too much!
"Changes to your food aren't the only thing to consider either. Whilst your diet has most effect on your weight loss (around 70% v 30% exercise), increasing your physical activity to burn more calories makes creating the necessary calorie deficit easier.
"Diets that exclude foods or severely limit specific macros are not going to be a long-term solution – so don't do it. Some diets drastically cut calorie intake so you get results fast, but a very low-calorie intake can leave you deficient in nutrients, tired and hungry, so you give up, regaining the weight as quickly as it came off."
And remember that cutting your calories too low may actually lead to a weight 'plateau'. Our bodies are very clever at preserving energy. If we cut our calories really low our body will recognise this as a period of famine and adapt to try and conserve energy stores. So you could end up eating less and weighing the same, and possibly become nutrient deficient.
The solution is not new or ground breaking, but however the 'diet' is packaged and promoted, losing weight comes down to creating a calorie deficit – and the best way to do this is to eat less and move more!
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