To count or not to count is the million dollar question! Should you count calories? Some people may have followed the in depth discussions on Fitforum.co.uk about this very topic and some of you may have also read certain articles on this as well. Today I wanted to make it very easy for you to understand and why I sincerely believe it simply is not a case of counting calories to lose body fat. Before you tear me apart, read on and see if it makes sense to you.
To burn body fat, and force your body into a state where it has to choose body fat as an energy source there does need to be a calorie deficit some point along the way. Surprised? However, this does not mean if you’re BMR (basal metabolic rate) is 3,000 calories and you eat 2,500 a day you will lose body fat, weight YES but not necessarily body fat. Why? Simply because not all calories are created equal, and it is this point which has me tearing my hair out when people think fat loss is all about calorie counting.
Carbohydrates – 4 calories
Protein – 4 calories
Fats – 9 calories
That in a nutshell is how many calories are in each gram of each nutrient stated above. Armed with that knowledge, some people would simply put a diet together which had a calorie count of around 20% below their BMR. Don’t be hasty! It is essential that you are ingesting the right calories at the right time of the day. To say that all calories are equal shows a distinct lack of understanding on how different food groups’ effect hormone levels at given points in the day.
For sure, this more than one way to skin a cat so there is never one diet which works better. It often comes down to the individual, their workout intensity and what their body is used to. It is nearly impossible to write a ‘’one fits all’’ diet for fat loss, because what works for you may not work for me. I know a top fitness model who has shredded abs, yet on the weekend he eats like an absolute maniac! I am talking a litre of ice cream over 6 Mr Kipling cakes, pizzas, missed meals and no cardio. Come Monday, he is regimented with his diet, training and cardio and kills it. If I took the same approach, I wouldn’t get lean because my genetics wouldn’t allow it! I don’t have the luxury of having a metabolic rate like this. With that said you can see my point, no one diet will fit everyone in my opinion particularly when fat loss is the goal.
Breaking it down
Vaguely speaking you generally have a body type which is one of three –
Ectomorph – Generally very slim, high metabolic rate and the ability to utilise carbohydrates effectively.
Mesomorph- Generally muscular, average metabolic rate and the need for moderate carbohydrate intake and more healthy fats.
Endomorph – Generally higher body fat percentage, slow metabolic rate and prefers healthy fats with low carbohydrates intake for fat loss.
As you can see it really boils down to your body type and what kind of calories work best with your body.
Eating the correct nutrients at the right time of the day is also crucial! Even if you’re on just 50g of complex carbs a day, I would eat half at breakfast and the other half post-training. This will help replenish muscle glycogen levels, spike the metabolism and it will also limit the conversion into stored fat.
Healthy fats are perfect before bed, because they help suppress cravings because they are more calorie dense than protein or carbohydrates as you now know. In contrast, fats straight after a workout would not be ideal because they would slow down the rate at which your muscle glycogen levels are replenished.
Back to counting
So, after that rocky ride is calorie counting necessary? If you want to get into shape, I mean really good condition then yes of course it is! However, it is absolutely essential that you combine it with correct nutrients at the right times of the day. Not all calories are the same as you know, so when you start counting calories make sure you also acknowledge the importance of the correct nutrient intake.