The truth about calories

Wholesome, nutritious foods are generally much healthier for the body, even if they contain more calories. (Photo credit: Emma Kruse)

For years, calorie counting has been a major trend in weight loss. New realizations and information, however, have shown that there are pros and cons of counting calories in order to lose weight.

Dieting based on calorie counting can help one lose weight in a rapid amount of time, but this is not necessarily healthy. More often than not, people count how many calories they are eating and end up consuming under the recommended amount for their age and body type. This helps one lose weight quickly, but it is likely to make one’s body gain weight easier later on.

The food industry knows people have bought into the calorie obsession, and many companies have been using calorie count as a selling point for their foods. One example of this is the brand Chobani. Chobani sells a line of yogurt called Simply 100 that is advertised as being healthier because it contains less calories. However, many studies have proven that yogurt itself is not healthy for the body, according to the 2011 documentary Forks Over Knives. This information is supported by YouTube star and founder of RawFullyOrganic Kristina Carilllo-Bucaram. Carillo-Bucaram studied, among other things, nutrition, exercise, and naturopathy. She has stated that yogurt can contain animal guts, worsen one’s complexion, and increase inflammation in the stomach.

Losing weight using caloric information can be done in a healthy way. This can be done if one consumes the number of calories within the recommended amount based on age, height, and weight by eating foods that are healthy and nutritious. Healthy foods would include foods such as nuts, oats, quinoa, vegan pasta, hummus, lentils, rice, spices, and more. Health and nutrition are not based solely on the number of calories a food contains. Just because a Reese’s Cup has 87 calories in it does not make it healthier than a banana with 105 calories in it. The closer a food is to its natural form, the healthier it is. A baked potato fresh out of the oven is generally healthier than a bag of potato chips.

“I think calorie counting is not a healthy way to lose weight because it is very restrictive,” said junior Gabi Vettorello, who took Nutrition & Exercise. “It is more important to listen to your body and fuel it with proper nutrients that are nutritious and wholesome. Also, little things like walking for 30 minutes or taking the stairs can make a difference. Being healthy is all about balance.”

When done right, however, calorie counting can be an effective weight loss option.

“I believe that calorie counting can help with losing weight if it is done in conjunction with exercise and intake of the correct foods,” said health teacher Ms. Brandi Lavely.

According to Ms. Lavely, simply counting calories is not enough. It is important to consume foods that are nutritious and filling to help one feel full longer.