We all have different goals, and they can range from wanting to lose a couple pounds to wanting to build muscle and look like the hulk. And as a lot of people have heard, 80% of that is made in the kitchen. Now of course it’s not that easy but what you put in your body has a LOT to do with your outcome. So if you are trying to decide if you need to calorie count for your goals, here are some things I found with my experience.
Calorie counting did have positives for me. I believe it is very handy in helping you know what you are putting into your body. For example, the amount of peanut butter you put on your sandwich is probably about three servings..sadly…but once you start to weigh out your food and track it, you become knowledgable about what you are actually consuming. In that case I do think that it helps you become more conscious of the calories and macronutrients you are eating. For me personally, I counted my calories religiously for two years straight. And I can say I am very knowledgable of what is in most foods calorie and macronutrient wise. It also helped me find what my actual bmr (basal metabolic rate-amount of energy/calories expended while at rest) and tdee (total daily energy expenditure-amount of energy/calories I burn including my activities, etc). Which will be helpful when I’m deciding if I want to gain muscle or lean out–currently bulking so yay for more food! So for you out there who want to be able to gage their calorie intake with learning what a true serving size is and how many calories are in that food, it’s really helpful. And that goes for everyone with any goal. I know it has helped me now because I don’t count calories, I’m a flexible eater, however I can still reach my goals of gaining muscle or leaning out because I am aware of what I’m consuming and have learned what I personally need.
Unfortunately, with my two years of calorie counting also came a negative experience. You can’t forget to weigh in the mental factor of it all. I found it easy to become obsessed with hitting and never going over the amount that I was “supposed” to be eating (I also completely had my numbers wrong and was under eating for the amount of working out I did). Because I was not eating enough and was obsessed with eating the exact amount that a macronutrient calculator told me to…which like I said was not accurate…it was easy for me to fall into binge eating. Because I was unknowingly starving my body of what it needed to fuel itself for my workouts and the day in general, any time a ton of irresistible food came my way I would fall into the binging cycle–eating a ton and then eating even less than my needed calories the next day just to balance it out. I’m NOT saying if you count calories this will happen to you. But I would be aware that the number that a website tells you is the amount that you need, might not be accurate and to listen to your body’s cues on adjusting that number. It took me about two years to figure out that I was under eating because I was too obsessed with hitting that number and being scared of increasing it. So just listen to your body’s hunger cues to see what you need to do. The other thing is that once you do find that number, to know that there is no way you will get it perfectly every day. Let me say that again for all you perfectionists out there…there is NO way you will get it perfectly every day. If you go over one day or for a whole week or even a month that is OK! We all need a mental break sometimes, we all go on vacation, we all eat too much dessert or pizza, and we all just don’t care about life sometimes and just want to do what we want. We are human and that’s fact. So don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t perfect in the calorie counting world because we aren’t perfect in the real world. This goes the same for all those who are bulking…I know it can be hard to eat 3000+ a day for you guys and 2000+ for you woman. If you just can’t bare the thought of eating that last meal, then don’t feel bad. Your gains aren’t going anywhere 😉
So in conclusion, calorie counting is great for gaining knowledge on food and getting an idea of how many calories you truly need for you goals. But also keep in mind that it can play with your head if you let it. Be in tune with your body and if you are still hungry at the end of the day after you have hit your calories, then eat more. Your body is obviously trying to tell you it needs more. And if you feel like you are going to puke with one more bite for all you bulkers, then I think you’ll be okay with skipping out sometimes. This all just my opinion but I hope that you see that none of us are perfect, and that’s perfectly ok 🙂