Can Calorie Counting Help the Obesity Epidemic
How Effective is Calorie Counting?
Since 1990, obesity rates have continued to rise in the United States. Despite efforts by government programs to change food recommendations, policies, and serving sizes, obesity continues to be a major concern nationwide. In the U.S., more than one in three adults and one in six children are obese. And with obesity, comes a high risk of developing several health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Now, in another attempt to lower obesity rates, the government has announced that chain restaurants, convenience stores and supermarkets in every state will be required to post the calorie count of every food item sold. The question then becomes, will calorie counting be effective in decreasing obesity rates?
The problem with the 2,000 Calorie Diet
In the U.S., food companies disclose nutritional facts on labels based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This is where the first potential problem with calorie counting becomes apparent: no two human bodies are the same. Every human body is different and so it cannot be as simple as basing nutritional facts on a 2,000 calorie standard.
A 100 pound woman does not require the same calorie intake as a 160 pound man. In that same respect, a 150 pound man with 4% body fat would not consume the same number of calories as a 150 pound individual with 30% body fat. Different body types need different calorie intakes to meet their nutritional goals.
Daily Values Based on a 2,000 Calorie Diet
The second potential problem with the 2,000 calorie diet is that the macronutrient percentages are based off of this number. In the eyes of many health professionals, the macronutrient values (Total Fat, Total Carbohydrate, Protein) of foods are more important than the calories. This is because macronutrients are what calories are made up of. They are the actual substances needed for energy, metabolism, muscle development, and other major body functions. It is the over consumption of macronutrients, not calories, that leads to weight gain. And this is especially true for diets based on a 2,000 calorie intake.
Macronutrients in the 2,000 Calorie Diet
When you look at a nutritional label, you will see a Total Fat, Total Carbohydrate and Protein percentages for that food product. These percentages are based on a standard set by the FDA of the total amount of fat, carbohydrates and protein one should consume in day. The total amount of fat is 62.5 grams, total amount of carbohydrates is 293 grams, and for protein it’s 55 grams a day.
The problem with these amounts is that you are now consuming high amounts of two different energy sources. When you combine 62.5 g of fat with 293 g of carbs and a sedentary lifestyle, this is almost a ticket to weight gain. Your body either needs fat or carbs for energy. One must always be consumed in low amounts. Your body will recognize one as the energy source and store the other.
Bad Calories vs. Good Calories
The last concern with calorie counting is that not everyone understands how to differentiate between good calories and bad ones. Below, you’ll find a list of calories as well as macronutrients and sugar amounts in items at popular food chains. Both Chipotle and Panera ranked high on having healthy food options, yet when looking at their calorie counts, they seem rather similar to those of unhealthy restaurants such as McDonald’s. Even more concerning is the amount of sugar found in a Starbucks drink consumed by countless individuals. All you know is that you are consuming 410 calories. You don’t know that it’s 410 calories of mostly sugar! Calorie counting impractical if you’re eating the wrong kind of calories.
|Food Chain||Meal||Calories||Total Fat||Total Carbohydrate||Total Protein||
|McDonalds®||Big Mac w/ Medium Fries||880||44 g||90 g||29 g||9 g|
|Little Caesars®||Hot-N-Ready Classic Round Pizza– 8 slices||280/slice||8 g||31 g||12 g||3 g|
|Brown Rice Bowl w/ Chicken, Black Beans, Fajita Vegetables, Salsa, Lettuce||570||14.5 g||65 g||45 g||5 g|
|Panera Bread®||Strawberry Poppyseed Salad w/ Chicken||340||13 g||31 g||29 g||20 g|
|Starbucks®||Mocha Frappuccino® – Grande||410||15g||65g||5 g||61 g|
A Better Way
While calorie counting could be a nice way to gauge the amount of food you are eating, it is still not an ideal solution. Helping individuals understand the importance of eating clean, healthy foods is much more impactful than counting calories. By reducing sugar intake, monitoring adequate carbohydrate and fat intake, and eating good sources of foods you can improve your diet and not have to rely on calorie counting. Plus, supplementing your diet with good sources of protein such as Youngeity’s FitShake™, TMR, and Slender FX™ Keto are also great ways to ensure you meet your daily protein requirements. You can learn more about supporting health weight loss at ygybetterhealth.com.
Before you start counting calories, make sure you get help from a healthcare professional to get you on the right path. Eat well and be healthy!