When Should You Count Calories?

When should you count calories
In my previous post, I gave you three reasons why counting calories may not be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. Today I want to give you three reasons why counting calories could be helpful and when you should count calories.

Check out the video here

When should you count calories: When you need to gain awareness

We can’t make meaningful changes to our health without knowing where we stand and what needs adjusted. If you’re trying to lose weight, but you’re unaware of the amount of calories you’re consuming, it can be very difficult to know where to start changing your diet.

Most people are surprised to learn how many calories are in drinks and snacks they consume on a daily basis. Your main meals might be really healthy, but if you forget about the sugar in your coffee, the random handfuls of nuts, and the occasional candy sitting in the break room, you’re not accounting for (probably) hundreds of calories in your daily intake. While it may not seem like much, over the course of a week it can drastically add up.

If you’re struggling to see where you need to adjust your diet, track everything that goes into your mouth for a week. The numbers may surprise you.

When should you count calories: When you’re not full

If you feel like you’re eating more than enough food, but you’re never really full, start tracking your calories. You may be unintentionally starving yourself (problem solved), but if you’re meeting or exceeding your daily calorie needs and you’re not full, that might be an indicator that the quality of your diet isn’t very good.

Three things that help keep you full are:

  1. Fat
  2. Fiber
  3. Protein
  4. Water

You may be eating a bunch of empty calories (hello diet food) or there may be a lot of added sugars or fats you don’t realize you’re getting. These rack up the calories, but don’t usually keep you full. Plus, they’re not very high in nutrients.

How do you make these changes?

  • When you switch from heavily processed foods to whole foods, you will naturally increase fiber.
  • When you start enjoying naturally fatty foods instead of the low-calorie factory version, you will naturally increase fat.
  • Unless you don’t eat meat, you’re not likely deficient in protein, but in case you are, go ahead and eat that steak or chicken thigh. If you’re consuming enough fruits and vegetables the fatty meat will not kill you. Trust me.
  • Drink water. Most people are chronically dehydrated and mistake thirst for hunger.

When should you count calories: When you need to prioritize

Sometimes in life the things we want are the things we shouldn’t have. If you know most of your diet is made up of less-than-ideal food, start tracking.

You’ll learn which foods are crazy high in calories, which foods are low in nutrients, and which foods aren’t as bad as you assumed.

Now you can start prioritizing.

Decide which foods you don’t want to give up, which foods you can start to let go of, and which foods aren’t worth it. This will make transitioning to a more nutrient dense and naturally lower calorie diet much more achievable.

Trust yourself. You got this.

Happy Healthing!

-Jenna Lee, RD