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In the diet industry what we do know about calorie counting is that it is the means to an end of a scientific equation of fat loss and weight gain. What we also know is that calorie counting has been given a misleading and negative stigma for causing obsession and/or failing to provide a means for achieving overall good nutrition.

Where do we sit with this topic?

With no ignorance to the science behind calorie counting, we believe it has its time and place. For optimal fat loss it’s indeed a vehicle to precision and accuracy in inevitably achieving an end result provided the intake amount is right for the individual. On the flip side, after years of dieting and happily sitting at the end goal calorie consciousness would be an alternative to a more peaceful way to live. 

Incredible fat loss transformation by our Equalution client!
This was achieved through independently selecting foods of her choice meeting our strategised macronutrient and micronutrient intake requirements set on a weekly basis according to her progress and goals. 

Calorie counting vs. calorie consciousness: The difference

Calorie counting is a method of tracking your calorie intake via a calorie counting tool like the Equalution App and meeting a goal intake. This goal intake is usually set at a surplus (more than expenditure), deficit (less than expenditure) or maintenance (same as TDEE) dependent on the end goal. The day can either be tracked as you go or preferably pre-planned like a meal plan meeting the goal requirements.

Calorie consciousness is vague by definition but interpretably refers to having an awareness of calorie intake. Perhaps involving some ‘loose’ in the head totalling or informal tracking but more-so just having a pre-understood knowledge or awareness of calorie intake enough to influence decision making when it comes to food choice.

Both are effective in their own contexts but don’t come without an opportunity cost.

The cons of both

Calorie Counting:

  • Can be a hard habit to shake off
  • Can be challenging for someone with an easily obsessive or compulsive nature
  • Can also come with inaccuracies like database entries etc that can hinder results
  • Has a high chance of adherence to the wrong intake
  • Can neglect macro or micronutrients if not under correct guidance
Calorie Consciousness:
  • Can facilitate inaccuracies in overall daily intake
  • Doesn’t provide a means of measurement i.e no strategic increase or decrease from no progress
  • Easy to overeat or ‘forget’
  • Can likely miss the mark with macronutrients
  • Can be tedious or near impossible with a complicated meal

calorie counting breakfast

The pros of both

Calorie counting:

1. It’s the most precise way  to maintain a calorie deficit/surplus and therefore efficiently reach goals (provided intake requirements have been correctly strategised)

2. It provides accountability and awareness of overall intake on a daily basis
3. It indirectly facilitates portion control given a pre-allocation or rationing out for the remainder of the day
4. It facilitates pre-planning and staying on track as opposed to a free for all and lack of structure
5. It educates on essential skills and tools to be able to intuitively eat or just be conscious after the goal has been achieved

Calorie consciousness:

1. It can come with less guilt-free than calorie counting  
2. It can make for a healthy lifestyle of picking and choosing battles rather than feeling confined to having to must stick to X number
3. It can influence and ensure better choices and decision making
4. It can be a relaxed way of maintaining a goal without completely losing track  
5. It’s a sustainable way to live and find balance in enjoying food and looking good

What should you do and when should you do it?

The golden question! What and when? Our take is if you’re looking for the most efficient and precise way then calorie counting is what you should begin at. You should consider calorie counting if you’re not seeing results and aren’t at your goal yet as it will give you the tools to better understand 1) Where you’re going wrong and 2) Precisely staying on track to results.

Calorie consciousness is something that after this process you may consider as a way to maintain what you have it achieved. It acknowledges that you’ve got to where you want to be and are equipped with enough information about making good nutritional decisions that you can afford to loosen the reigns. Loosening the reins (in no longer tracking) may mean little weight fluctuations each week - or big ones if you’re not quite ready to go on your own - but for some at a particular point in their journey may be okay with that and are willing to pay that price for the additional diet relaxation.

Everyone is different and we work with our clients on making these decisions when they’ve reached their goal. Ultimately flexible dieting makes for an easy later transition into more balance due to the knowledge gained during practice.