Creating a calorie deficit is the first step towards losing weight.
It means consuming less calories than you can burn. Keeping a tab on calorie intake is of prime importance during your weight loss journey.
The way most people calculate calories is inaccurate and misguided, according to experts from the University of Cambridge.
This is because the nutrition labels are not helpful in addressing important factors in metabolism and appetite.
Experts say, we eat food and not calories. Counting calories is useful when you are trying to reduce portion size. Comparing calories and using them across food is not sensible.
While trying to lose weight, protein and fibre are more helpful factors than counting calories alone. Calories are a basic unit of measurement and it’s a law of physics that losing weight requires burning off more calories than what you eat. Calorie count tells you how much energy you are ingesting, it cannot help you understand how food makes you feel – if you will be satisfied after eating or hungry again within 30 minutes.
Studies suggest that nutrients like fibre and protein can make you fuller for longer and take more energy to digest, making it easier for you to cut calories if you are trying to lose weight.
The context of calories matters because it can be helpful to tell people to eat less and not explain to them how they can do it sustainably.
Weight is determined by calories in versus calories out. The equation for each person is different depending on their lifestyle preferences, time to shop and cook and access to healthy foods and information.
Formula to make calorie counting more accurate
Currently, labels tally up to four calories for each gram of carbs and every gram of protein in food. Instead, based on a 2001 study of energy that’s actually available from each nutrient, it’s suggested to count:
- 3.8 calories per gram of sugar
- 3.6 calories per gram of complex carbohydrates (including starches)
- 3.2 calories per gram of protein
- Multiply the grams of each macronutrient by the numbers above and add to get a more accurate calorie total.
- The difference could tally around 10-15 per cent of total calories, 200-300 calories a day and over 1,000 calories in a week for an average person.