Is Calorie Counting the Best Way to Lose Weight?

Calorie counting isn't always the most effective way to lose weight. Learn which foods burn faster for weight loss.

Is Calorie Counting Effective?

You’ve probably heard that “a calorie is just a calorie” and all that matters in losing weight is dependent on how many calories you are taking into your body. Many weight loss professionals will tell you that you’ll need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of body fat. Though this is true to an extent, a calorie isn’t just a calorie. There are many other factors to be considered.

What is a Calorie Exactly?

A calorie is a measure of energy and your body depends on it. Energy intake is made up of the calories taken in by the foods you eat, while energy expenditure includes physical activity, vital function at rest, digestion of foods, and bodily waste. If energy intake is greater than the output, body weight is gained. The opposite is also true. When energy expenditure is greater than the input, body weight is lost. If energy intake and expenditure are equal, body weight is maintained.

Natural Foods Help You Lose More Weight

Natural foods are made from the animals, fish, and the earth. This includes foods such as lean beef, wild game, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, vegetables, and fruits.

Processed foods are commercially prepared foods for convenience. They are usually foods that have been altered or preserved in packages, boxes, jars, cans, or plastic such as frozen dinners, white bread, and boxed cookies. They also have a long shelf life.

Research shows that whole foods consume nearly 50 percent more energy when digested than the empty calories provided by processed foods.

High Fiber Foods Reduce Calories

Fiber is a form of carbohydrates found in vegetables and fruits. They contribute to satiety (feeling full), but their calories don’t necessarily count when trying to lose weight because they are not absorbed by your body. Your digestive systems just can’t break them down. Fiber can be classified as soluble and insoluble.

Decrease Belly Fat with Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber is soft and sticky. It attracts water to form a gel-like substance inside of your digestive system. This helps soften your stools so that it can slide through your gastrointestinal tract more easily. It also binds substances like cholesterol and sugar to prevent and slow their absorption into your bloodstream. In turn, [soluble fiber helps protect against heart disease and regulate blood sugar levels](https://jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(08%2901566-6/fulltext). Even more, this type of fiber boosts the population of good bacteria in your gut and thereby improves your immunity. For weight management, soluble fiber helps reduce body fat around your midsection. One study reported that for every 10 grams of daily soluble fiber eaten, there is a four percent decrease in belly fat.

Lose Extra Weight with Insoluble Fiber

You’ve probably heard the term “roughage” when referring to certain vegetables. That would be insoluble fiber. It’s mostly found in the stalks, skins, and seeds of plant foods. Unlike soluble fiber, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Nor is it broken down in the gut and absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead, it adds bulk to waste in your digestive system which helps prevent constipation and keep elimination regular. With the average person carrying an extra 5 to 20 pounds of poop, eating insoluble fiber can eliminate this extra weight.

Losing both belly fat and toxic waste is important for losing weight, so be sure to include more plant-based foods in your diet. Women require about 28 grams of fiber per day, while men require about 34 grams. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help with the digestion of fiber.

Protein Burns More Calories

A specific dynamic action occurs between protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Thus, the thermic effect of these foods increase energy expenditure that comes from digestion and assimilation of their nutrients. While carbohydrates and fats are important for a healthy diet, research has shown protein boosts metabolism at a higher rate.

In fact, protein boosts metabolism by 20 to 30 percent compared to five to 10 percent for carbohydrates and zero to five percent for fats. In other words, you will burn 20 to 30 calories for every 100 protein calories you ingest.

While protein is important for weight loss doesn’t mean that you should go hog-wild on a protein-only or high protein diet. In fact, it can be dangerous for your metabolic processes to eliminate carbohydrates and fats as they do provide important benefits for your body. However, including 20 to 35 percent of your diet with high quality protein will help you lose weight faster.

Closing

Losing weight can be a difficult prospect if you’re not eating the right types of calories. Plus, calorie counting is a nuisance and can even thwart your weight loss goals. Be sure to include natural foods high in soluble and insoluble fibers and moderate in quality proteins. They will make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs leaving deficiencies behind that actually cause cravings and fat holding. If you’re still having trouble losing weight after four weeks of incorporating these recommendations, then you may want to add a calorie tracker to your daily regimen. However, I highly doubt you will need to.

If you still want to know how to determine the amount of calories you should include in your daily diet, please read Easily Calculate Calories to Lose Weight.

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