Calorie Counting vs Eat What You Want

Ok, here's something I'm really interested to know: Who counts the number of calories they eat / has a daily set calorie limit and do you find it to be a complete pain?! I'm basing my diet around an 1800 calorie per day allowance to keep my weight stable, but I just wonder if I really need to. I'm just a bit too anxious to try the eat-what-you-want way image If you do stick to a daily calorie limit, have you just got to a point where you know what that daily amount looks like or do you have religiously count every calorie? I'm really interested to know if anybody is a freak like me but finds it doesn't get in the way of everything. And how do you know how many calories is right for you?



  • Counting calories is NOT necessarily the only way to maintain or lose weight. If you did that, you'd never touch nuts, seeds, avocados or omega 3 oils and yet all are great ways of getting your "good fats" needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Not all fats are your enemy, even if they are very calorific.

    Eat protein with complex carbohydrates, avoid sugar and eat a wide variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables. And exercise. Easy when you say it quickly, eh? image

    As for how many calories is right for you. there are ways of measuring your Base Metabolic rate to determine how many calories you ACTUALLY need to tick over each day but better people than I can come along and explain that.

  • I make sure I get my nuts/seeds etc, but like you say, they are quite calorific so they take up quite a bit of my limited energy allowance!
  • You don't have to count calories but it is good to get an idea of what you need as a base. I use 2500 cals as a base (to stay as I am) and know around about when I am getting close. My losing weight has been by keeping a loose  eye on my base and never sitting on a meal. If I eat I take dog for 2 or 3 miles plus I run 4 times a week. All very relaxed with no pressure at all and it has been very successful.
  • And do you stay at a stable weight?!
  • This is a very interesting question. Earlier this year I had a three week space between running a marathon and going on holiday, and I decided to use it as an opportunity to shed a few pounds. Downloaded an app for my phone and logged every calorie eaten and every calorie burned, allowing myself a net calorie consumption of 1,200. If I wanted to eat more, I had to exercise more.

    On the upside, I lost the (relatively modest) amount of weight I wanted to. Also, by actually checking the calorie values of foods I normally eat, I learned a surprising amount. Things I thought were relatively low in calories weren't, and vice versa.

    On the downside, I nearly went nuts. I spent all day obsessing about food, and whether I could have an extra Jaffa cake if I got off the train a stop early. I can absolutely understand how eating disorders start, by using calorie counting as a means of control. But it's very boring and time consuming! So I deleted the app at the end of the experiment and went back to eating 'normally'.

    I did learn some things, mostly about portion size, and that you can eat pretty much as many vegetables as you want, but in my view calorie counting is no way to live, long term.
  • I still use that app I find it interesting I'm quite small so it only gives me 1200 a day, it makes me think about what I eat more and makes me exercise more so I can eat more! If I blow my calories once or twice a week I don't worry too much!
  • I have an app like that and I'm going a bit nuts too, lol. But I don't dare stop using it now! I know the calorie contents of so many things now and avoid things I know are too hIgh.
  • I've used an online calculator to find out how much I need to eat, given my body weight, age, general activity level and specific running/cycling level. I'm only about 48 kg so now I'm running about 50 miles a week I still only need just under the "average" women's 2,000 calories per day. I don't calorie count, but I do look at calorie-to-protein ratios, particularly on prepared foods (as in: 500 calories and only 10 g of protein for what's supposed to be a main meal - forget it!). I make sure I've got healthy "nibbling foods" in (fruit, carrots, nuts etc.) and mostly don't have much in the way of biscuits, cakes etc. in the house except for stuff I'll eat out on the long runs (malt loaf, fig rolls and so on), and occasional treats.

    Interestingly I've found that as my running has increased, I've got less of a sweet tooth and go more for savory stuff.

  • 2000 calories for running 50 miles a week?!! I'm the same weight and most of those calorie-needs sites tell me I need between 1800 and 2000, yet I only run 15-20 miles a week. Maybe it really is best to eat when you're hungry and don't eat when you're not, as someone said previously. It's so confusing. For those who don't watch calories, does your weight go up and down?
  • summerrain, I used This allows for number of hours per day spent asleep, practically inactive (e.g. sitting reading) etc. My job is fairly sedentary, so it allows for that. And yes, eat when you're hungry, not if you're not. But if you're thirsty you can feel hungry - so try a (nonalcoholic!) drink first. And if you suddenly crave a particular type of food, you may be deficient in something - like when I suddenly craved margarine and butter - I presume I was low on essential fatty acids or fat soluble vitamins or something - after a month or so it tapered off.

  • Hm, it now gives me about 2,100 calories per day - maybe it was under 2,00 with 40 mpw - whatever, it gives me a ballpark. If my trousers are not too tight, I'm not putting on excessive weight. I weigh myself more when I'm worried I might be losing too much weight - don't want to drop below 47 kg really.
  • That sounds like an easier way of doing things image I just checked mine and it says I need 1600... So I'm overeating?!?! Heck.
  • Well, if you're not putting on weight/your clothes are not getting too tight, then you're not eating too much! Every individual is different, that's why I said it gives me a ballpark figure. Trust the wasitband in your trousers - it will tell you if you're eating too much.

  • I'll keep a check on it image
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