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GLAMOUR's columnist Bradley Simmonds debunks whether counting calories is productive or obsessive

How far is too far?

03 Sep 2019

To put it simply, if we consistently eat too many calories (calories are the energy found in food), we will eventually gain weight.

With such an obesity crisis in Britain, it is clear that a lot of the population are eating far more calories than their body requires.

Whilst some people are consuming these calories from too much of the “wrong foods”, like junk food, alcohol and processed convenience foods, you can actually be over eating the “right foods” with portion sizes being a bit muddled because something is healthy.

Regardless of where the calories come from, whether it is the healthiest plate of food or the least nutritious plate of food, a calorie equals a calorie. So over eating or under eating every day, regardless of what the food/drink is, will eventually have an effect on the body.

This fact is an important one because many people on social media, including qualified personal trainers, will say “as long as you stick to your calorie intake it doesn’t matter where those calories come from”, but I have to disagree. Your body needs the right amount of calories to function but it also needs a variety of food groups and nutrients in order to function effectively and for you to live in good health.

Three cheeseburgers a day 4 times a week might be within your calorie intake but it’s not going to benefit your health in any way.

Finding the balance...

Many people oppose to counting calories which I can totally understand; it isn’t natural to count and record the exact amount of calories in everything you eat and drink and realistically it isn’t a sustainable way of living. We must remember that food is to be enjoyed, it is also fuel for the body so needs to be nourishing too, we want to avid obsession as much as possible. Finding the right balance between what we enjoy and what is good for us in the right quantities is the key in my opinion, so how do we get there?

People looking to lose weight will need to consume fewer calories than they use through activity, people who want to maintain a current weight need to eat the same amount of calories as they use through activity and those wanting to gain weight need to consume more.

So once you know what calorie intake you personally need in order to reach whatever your goal is, you can manage your food choices and quantities a lot easier. Visit my website to work out your calorie intake.

Educate yourself...

What you can do is familiarise the amount of calories found in your favourite foods, have an idea of portion sizes and be mindful of this day to day.

I quite like having the amount of calories on a menu because I do like to be mindful of my calorie intake, however I don’t rule out foods I enjoy like chocolate because I’m an active person and believe balance is key.

What we must be careful of is not becoming obsessed with counting or feeling guilty for going over our “calorie limit”, this isn’t a healthy way of living, calories in vs calories out can be averaged over a period of time so who cares if you occasionally go over.

The most important thing is to ensure your body is getting enough goodness from the foods you are eating and to appreciate that the more active you are the more calories you can consume without gaining weight.