Should I be counting calories?

Whatever your fitness goals, counting calories is a good idea. If you want lose weight/body-fat then you will need a deficit and if you want to grow muscle you will need a surplus. It's impossible to know if you are achieving either of these aims if you have no idea how many calories you are putting into your body. Most people who complain that they are working hard in the gym, but not achieving their goals, are misjudging their calorie intake. 

Counting calories will automatically make you more aware of what you are putting in your body. Many so called “healthy snacks’ are loaded with calories, eating too many because you assume they are healthy and good for you will be the undoing of your weight loss plans. Having a clear target for your daily requirement will take away a lot of the guess work and uncertainty and put you on the path to success. 

Another benefit of tracking your calories is that it will improve your portion control. Knowing how many calories are on your plate will help you to avoid overeating. A bowl of fruit for breakfast can seem a healthy start to the day, however a large bowl of fruit salad can easily contain over 1000 calories, more than half of most peoples daily allowance!

Calorie counting is one the most important steps in achieving fitness goals, however it is not perfect and there are some issues you need to take into consideration. Firstly, not all calories are created equally: Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat all perform very different nutritional functions in the body. It is vital to get the right balance of these macro nutrients and the right balance of vitamin and mineral micro nutrients. It is also important to recognise that everyone’s calorie requirement is different, it may take some trial and error before you fully understand yours. Finally, it’s a pain in the arse! Weighing, measuring and recording every morsel is time consuming and dull, but take heart, there are lots of apps out there to help you and make the process a bit less painful.