Do calories count?

So many people talk about calories, worry about calories, look for calories on food packaging, but do they actually count? My answer? yes, they do.


Some of you reading this may know that I'm not a big believer in 'counting calories', so you may be thinking I have just contradicted myself there (there are times where calorie counting is needed! but I do like the relaxed approach to fat loss and muscle gain - eat healthy foods, cut out the crap, and train hard!), but I haven't. Calories are important, but that doesn't mean you have to count them. Lets look at an example - a typical male, 25 years old, wanting to gain muscle mass. If you do a little reading about how to put size on, you will soon find out that you have to eat more. The problem with that is a lot of people just think 'eat more food' and forget the importance of what food you are actually eating. This is where calories DO count, even if you are adding size without counting calories. If this guy in the example consumed 3000 calories per day, but those calories came from processed food and junk, but very little calories came from god quality nutritious food, what would the result be? Not very good. Compare that to 3000 calories coming from good quality nutrition - vegetables, lean meats, fish, healthy fats, complex carbs, what would the result be? better gains, not adding excess fat, lean muscle growth, more energy, feel fresher, recovery better.

That is a perfect example of why calories count. Yes, you need to eat more to gain size, but if you eat more junk, you will gain size, but it will be mostly fat.

Flip that around to a fat loss example. A typical female calorie intake is 2000, let's drop that to around 1500. If she was eating 2000 kcal of junk food, and reduced that to 1500, still junk food, yes she's going to lose a little bit of fat, but then she will plateau. Whereas, if she consumed 1500 kcal of good nutrition - lots of vegetables, lean protein, some carbs, fruit, water, she would lose fat, and continue to lose fat.

Do you have to measure your calories? I personally don't think so, but that's just what I believe, what works for me, and what works for my clients. I used to think you should count everything, but it didn't work with my clients - they felt stressed, annoyed, having to weigh out everything, measure everything, record it, and it just annoyed them too much and felt like a chore. Whereas now, I believe that if you exercise regularly and to a good intensity (no point training if you're just going to walk on a treadmill and then go home) and eat healthy foods, cutting out the fat, sugary foods, junk foods, processed foods, then you can reach your goals.

Obviously, if you eat tons of healthy food, train in the gym, and wanting to lose weight, you may well struggle. But what you will find by eating healthy, is you actually get fuller much easier, so you could struggle to eat a lot anyway. But what I have found with my clients is that by keeping things relaxed, they are less stressed, worry less, enjoy the journey of losing fat, rather than feeling stressed everyday. If you eat healthy moderate sized meals, train hard in the gym, you're going to lose fat. You aren't feeding your body any fat or junk, your burning calories in the gym, and you're feeding your body with nutritious food. Perfect recipe.

Remember - a calorie isn't a 'one size fits all' thing. Each calorie is different depending on where it comes from.

Lee Gregory Fitness

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