One of the most pervading questions in weight loss is whether you should count calories or carbs? Everyone seems to have a different story, there are advocates of carb counting and advocates of calorie counting, advocates of fat counting and advocates of analyzing every single ingredient in every single food that you put in your body. The real answer to this pressing question is multi-faceted, you may find it surprising and it could be one of the most important tips on weight loss you ever receive!
Let us begin with the most commonly used method, calorie counting. There are a ton of calorie counting diet programs and there is a plethora of scientific research studies which support the belief that creating a calorie deficit is essential if you want to lose weight. As far as I’m aware, there is in fact NO scientific research to the contrary and this tells us that no matter how accurately you count your daily food calories, if you eat too many you’ll not lose weight – you’ll gain it!
Does this mean that calorie counting isn’t a useful tool? Of course not, when you embark on a calorie counting diet program you will learn a great deal about the foods that are best for your body and those which provide minimal nutritional value. You may find yourself surprised at how many poor food choices you have been making and how many calories you are eating. Many experts believe that calorie counting is the most effective way to plan and track your weight loss progress but it can prove to be frustrating, boring and time-consuming.
Another thing to be aware of is the fact that calculating your maintenance level (the amount of calories your body needs to function efficiently on a daily basis) is absolutely imperative. You can of course use the recommended calorie guidelines but this is a notoriously flawed thing to do as the amount of calories needed varies greatly from person to person depending on how active they are amongst other things. The bottom line is; you must be precise if you are to use the calorie counting strategy.
Carb counting is obviously different to calorie counting in that you need only to calculate the amount of carbohydrates you consume on a daily basis rather than the complete spectrum of food. This strategy is particularly popular with people who have diabetes as it aids the individuals ability to asses the effect each meal has on their blood sugar levels thus making it easier to balanced food with insulin or exercise. Put simply, when you know exactly how much carbohydrate there is in the food you eat, it is far easier to control the natural responses that your body has to it.
Although the most basic form of carb counting is simply to count how many grams of carbohydrates you consume daily, a more productive way of carb counting is to use the glycemic index of food. Foods that are rated above the figure of 60 are considered a high glycemic index food and these are known to have a detrimental effect as far as weight loss is concerned.
When these high GI carbs are consumed blood sugar levels increase significantly and this causes insulin to be released which is responsible for the storage of all the foods we eat – in some people the body releases too much and this causes sugars to be pushed by insulin into every cell, including fat cells. Regular consumption of high GI foods causes your body to develop insulin resistance which means normal amounts of insulin become inadequate which can lead to weight gain and diabetes.
So, the question remains, should you count calories or count carbs?
The answer is, neither and both. Sound like a paradox? This is what I mean…
Both of these weight loss strategies are useful however both are time consuming and frustrating. If you insist on going solo with your weight loss without any outside help you should definitely count both calories and carbs. However if you don’t want the hassle of itemizing everything you eat and calculating your exact calorie requirements you should get yourself on a professionally created diet plan. A good diet program will do all the calculations for you so you can concentrate on the important stuff – losing weight!