Calorie Counting: Real Benefits or Waste of Time?


Darn those doctors and dietitians! They tell you to limit calorie intake to 2000 but they also tell you if you eat less than that, you can still gain weight. So what’s the point? Canada’s Food Guide further suggests females from 31 to 50 years old and active might need 2,250 calories per day, and males might need 2,900 calories. Olympic competitive swimmers intake 12,000 calories per day? Well, aren’t they just lucky!

Since the Healthy Menu Choices Act takes over Canadian cities, you can’t ever have the poutine anymore because you often don’t know how to justify the 750 calories for a snack. Then you get stressed out because you can’t have your fries with gravy and didn’t they say stress will lead to weight gain?

So the bottom-line is should you be counting calories and how can you do it “correctly?”

That is a very personal question because each body is different. Combine health information with the intimate knowledge of your own lifestyle, metabolism and certain food craves at certain time to get a unique solution that works for you and you only.

Some facts about calories:

  • Calories get stored as fat if consumed in excess.
  • Our bodies don’t absorb all the calories we intake, as much as 20%.
  • If you cut your current calorie intake by more than 500 calories, you will start to lose weight (how much depends on your individual body and lifestyle).
  • Same portion size doesn’t mean same calorie count: 1 gram of carbohydrates is 4 calories, 1 gram of protein is 4 calories, 1 gram of fat is 4 calories, 1 gram of alcohol is 7 calories.
  • The rule of thumb (might not be applicable to you!) is 50% carb, 20% protein, 30% from monounsaturated fat.
  • Don’t believe food labels because the preparation and production process of these foods can increase their actual calorie counts.

Average calorie count of common Vietnamese food:

  • Banh Mi: 600 calories
  • Beef Pho: 650 calories
  • Vietnamese Coffee with condensed milk: 160 calories
  • Rice Roll: 170 calories
  • Vietnamese sour soup: 90 calories
  • Vietnamese pork vermicelli: 800 calories

The verdict is calorie counting might not help you lose weight but it will motivate you towards a more conscious eating habit, and perhaps a more active lifestyle and these two factors will surely keep you more healthy. If you need guidance and constant friendly reminders, there is always MyFitnessPal, or MyNetDiary, or FatSecret…to the rescue!

For more health tips: Check out other Santé & Sanity videos.