How tracking calories helps you lose weight.
Losing weight is common knowledge, right? You need to eat fewer calories than you burn to reach your goal weight.
The basic weight loss strategy remains the same, even with the latest technology-enabled programs: “calories in vs calories out.”.
Yet, despite its underlying biological truths, calorie counting vastly simplifies the complex mechanisms determining human body weight, according to research and registered dietitians. Learn if calorie counting works for weight loss that lasts and if it’s a good fit for you.
Precisely what does a calorie mean?
A calorie is an exact unit of energy. It represents how much energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. In the case of food, calories are kilocalories, which are 1,000 of these tiny units. Foods containing fat have the highest calorie density, with 9 kilocalories per gram. Each gram of carbohydrates and protein contains about four calories. Therefore, the most fundamental principle of weight loss is to eat fewer calories than you burn.
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ve probably heard that a calorie deficit is necessary. However, you may wonder what it involves or why weight loss requires it.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommends per-person per-day calorie norms of 2400 kcal for rural areas and 2100 kcal for urban areas, while Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) uses a standard minimum required calorie norm of 1800 kcal per person per day for both rural and urban population. In addition, many free diet coach apps like AlphaCoach Evolve give you a rough estimate of your daily calorie intake based on age, height, weight, current activity levels, and fitness goals. (source: NITI Aayog)
You achieve a calorie deficit when you consume fewer calories than you burn.
The calories you burn or expend each day — also known as calorie expenditure — include the following three components:
- Resting energy expenditure (REE). When your body is at rest, it uses calories for breathing and blood circulation to keep you alive.
- Thermic effect of food. Your body expends calories digesting, absorbing, and metabolizing food.
- Activity energy expenditure. You burn calories during sports, such as exercise, and other activities like housework and fidgeting.
You create a calorie deficit when you provide your body with fewer calories than it needs to support these three components of calorie expenditure. Conversely, you will gain weight if you consume more calories than your body needs. It is thus known as a calorie surplus.
Does Calorie Counting Work?
It’s important to realize that calories are not interchangeable when counting calories. You need to consider the quality and quantity of calories you consume.
Creating and staying in a calorie deficit is more challenging than it may appear if you’ve ever tried to lose weight. “Calorie counting can lead to snacking on foods that may align with your goal but leave you hungry shortly afterward.
How Does Metabolism Work?
During metabolism, calories in food and drink mix with oxygen to produce the energy the body needs.
Energy is essential to all body functions, including breathing, circulating blood, maintaining hormone levels, growing and repairing cells, and more. During rest, the body uses a certain number of calories, called basal metabolic rate, to do these things.
Basal metabolic rate is primarily determined by muscle mass but is also influenced by the following:
- Body size and composition. A person with more muscle or a bigger body burns more calories at rest.
- Sex. Men burn more calories because they have less fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight.
- Age. As people age, they lose muscle, and fat dominates the body, slowing its calorie-burning process.
Calorie expenditure depends on two other factors besides the basal metabolic rate:
- How the body uses food – Food is digested, absorbed, moved and stored. About 10% of calories are burned for digestion and nutrient absorption.
- How much a body moves – The rest of the calories a body burns daily come from movement, like playing tennis, walking to the store, or chasing the dog.
- Walking around the house, gardening, doing housework, and fidgeting are examples of non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT accounts for about 100 to 800 calories used every day. Walking around the house, gardening, and doing housework, are all examples of non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT accounts for about 100 to 800 calories used every day.
Other factors that affect calorie consumption
Many other factors affect calorie intake that many people don’t consider.
According to a November 2016 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people eat more and choose higher-calorie foods when they don’t sleep enough. In addition, according to Today’s Dietitian, calorie restriction increases cortisol, a stress hormone that causes cravings for high-calorie food.
A significant cause of hunger for many people is ultra-processed food, made industrially with multiple ingredients and additives.
Sugar-filled meals and snacks spike your blood sugar and then crash, leaving you hungry again within hours.
On the other hand, many nutrients make cutting calories easier. For instance, diets high in protein and dietary fiber keep you fuller and more satisfied for longer.
Many weight loss apps like AlphaCoach Evolve track calories accurately and can help to understand calorie density or the number of calories your food provides in a given volume.
A correlation between better diet quality and lower body weight is associated with diets rich in low-calorie-density foods.
Does calorie counting help with weight loss?
If you want to achieve a healthy body weight, calorie counting is one possible strategy. In addition, calorie tracking can help you build awareness and learn about nutrition.
Counting calories should always go hand in hand with learning about nutrition.
Counting calories can work if you do it in a way that promotes a calorie deficit. However, it only sometimes allows you to make the healthiest or most satisfying choices. If you aren’t careful, it can backfire.
It would be best if you didn’t rely solely on counting calories to lose weight, and it’s not a strategy that fits everyone. If you’ve struggled with disordered eating, you should avoid counting calories.
Learning how to consistently choose balanced meals and snacks that support your fitness goals is essential. If you’re only counting calories and not considering the quality of the calories you are consuming, your diet will probably need more essential nutrients.
You can simplify your diet and lifestyle by making small changes that add up over time.
Tips for eating fewer calories
Creating a calorie deficit can be a manageable change to your diet.
Don’t drink your calories.
You can eliminate several hundred calories by reducing or eliminating sugary drinks like soda, fruit juices, and specialty coffee drinks from your diet.
Also, alcoholic beverages can contain a significant amount of calories.
The calories in these beverages do not provide fullness, and if consumed excessively, they can cause obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Limit highly processed foods
Highly processed foods, such as sugary beverages, fast food, desserts, and cereals, are high in sugar, fat, and salt, making them highly palatable and encouraging overconsumption.
In addition to being rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre, minimally processed foods include lean protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Eating minimally processed foods will help you avoid overeating and ensure your body receives the nutrients it needs.
Try swapping sugary cereals for oatmeal topped with fruit or replacing chips with lightly salted almonds if your diet is heavily processed.
Eat home-cooked meals.
You can control ingredients, portion sizes, and calories by preparing and eating your meals at home.
The benefits of eating home-cooked meals include
- improved diet quality,
- Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption,
- lower body fat levels, and
- reduced risks of diabetes and heart disease.
Furthermore, cooking at home frequently can save you money.
How to get a rough estimate of your calorie intake with food logging?
The fact is that 88% of people who use applications such as AlphaCoach Evolve for just 15 days lose weight.
If you aren’t reaching your nutrition goals, try tracking what you eat based on that statistic alone. Tracking your food provides insight into your starting point and areas for improvement and ensures you progress, whether you’re trying to lose weight, tone up, or get healthy.
8 Benefits of Tracking Your Food
- Increases mindful eating – It is often the case that we forget what we eat, so tracking helps you stay mindful of what you eat.
- Gives you an understanding of your eating habits – If you want to reach your nutrition and fitness goals, you need to know where you start so you can make a viable plan with steps. Before you can tweak anything to progress towards your goal, you need to know how many calories you consume currently, how many sources you get them from, and what ratio of macronutrients you consume.
- It informs you how nutrient-dense your food is. You can determine what foods are “worth it” for you to meet your fitness goals/nutritional needs by tracking your food (after a few days, maybe you think, “Wow, those doughnuts from the breakroom are hard to fit into my macro plan and they aren’t very satisfying). OR something like, “I don’t like cake.” Since I do not eat cake that often and love it, I will have to balance the rest of my day. However, I am okay with that because it is worth it since I don’t eat cake often. In the same way, it helps you identify which foods are hindering your progress (and therefore enables you to reduce consumption or even eliminate them).
- It makes you accountable. Logging helps you recognize when you are getting close to your daily calorie limit.
- It helps you maintain a balanced diet. Tracking your meals can help you make better food choices in the future or continue to make balanced choices for sustained energy by ensuring you log each meal.
- It helps you reach your goals. When you know your food’s caloric density, you can use that information to help you reach your goals in the future. For example, while eating at your favourite restaurant, you are debating what starter to order. A few minutes before deciding, you check the calorie count of the Grilled Chicken Lettuce burger and discover that it contains a whopping 1000 calories. Furthermore, that would put you way over your daily calorie limit, so you choose another appetizer. This is different from a restrictive, bland diet. Tracking allows you to make informed decisions about foods you enjoy)
- Less restrictive. Your diet can include a variety of your favourite foods if you eat them in moderation.
- It Allows you to pre-plan your meals. Plan what you’ll get at home at the grocery store or read the menu. If you cannot pre-plan your meals, you can learn after you make why it was good or bad (moving you closer or further away from your goal) and how you can improve it.
How to Track Your Food
We’ve found that many people successfully track their food using the free app AlphaCoach Evolve. These people have seen great success with AlphaCoach Evolve because it has a verified food directory of more than 18,000 Indian food dishes and regional recipes. The app is available to download for FREE on Android and will soon be available on iOS, so you never have an excuse not to track your food.
Try This: Download AlphaCoach Evolve and try to log what you ate yesterday.
Download the free app from Google Playstore and complete your onboarding as required by the app. You’ll be asked to enter your basic health information, current activity levels, and fitness goals, as well as the pace at which you want to reach them. For the next step, connect your pedometer app like GoogleFit or your wearable. Once your onboarding process is complete, the app will generate a personalized goal-based plan for you taking into consideration all your preferences in a few minutes.
When tracking your food and using AlphaCoach Evolve, the first step is figuring out how much you consume daily. After you have decided on your starting point and goal, you can adjust your diet to meet your nutrition needs (based on your food preferences and fitness goals).
When tracking, keep these things in mind:
- Tracking more often will increase your chances of achieving your goals. Over time, tracking your intake keeps you informed. The more you track, the easier it becomes. With AlphaCoach Evolve, you can use the voice-enabled food logging feature to log your food in under 2 minutes. This stuff takes some getting used to. Once you’ve made tracking a habit, you will only realize that it takes little to no time.
- It’s better to track something than nothing at all. Discipline, mindfulness, and accountability are just as important as choosing the correct item to log.
- As you log each meal, you will establish healthy habits. Logging your food ahead will force you to start pre-planning your meals.
- Make a note of the foods that might align with your goals ahead of time. Choose something else if it doesn’t.
How AlphaCoach Evolve works?
AlphaCoach EVOLVE is our 100% FREE diet coach app. The first-of-its-kind application is best suited for people who want to manage their body weight through a healthy combination of proper nutrition and activity based on their preferences and lifestyle.
AlphaCoach Evolve is the fastest food-logging app and comes with an adaptive intelligence engine that helps users make the best food choices based on your metabolism. The application program uses AI/ML technologies that account for user habits, lifestyles, eating preferences, and other relevant parameters. The application adapts with your usage over time. The algorithm also predicts a timeline for you to reach your body-weight goals, following the recommended plan. With a goal-based approach, AlphaCoach Evolve helps you lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight.
The patent-pending algorithm that backs the application is the first of its kind that calculates the users’ metabolism based on their food and body-weight logs. Then, based on the daily food and weight logs, the system automatically makes program adjustments for the users every week. It also seamlessly integrates with multiple wearables via Google Fit, ensuring activity tracking.
The key highlight of the app is the “Daily Alpha Score” – a clear indicator of the program’s compliance. In addition, the application guarantees result in the predicted timeline if the user scores a Daily Alpha Score above 70 every day.
“Alpha Coach Evolve is a boon for all those who want to manage their weight but cannot stick to rigid diet programs. Being a Chartered Accountant and working in the financial services space for 23+ years before founding Alpha Coach, I understand first-hand how inhibitive and difficult it can be for busy professionals to get started on a fitness journey. This app does everything for you – from helping you build an initial program to making weekly adjustments. It’s like having a coach watching over you all the time. It requires under 5 minutes a day to log all your meals. With the free app, anyone can start their fitness program immediately and start seeing progress within a matter of weeks”, said Ketan Mavinkurve – CEO & Founder of Alpha Coach.
“We are thrilled to have built this product in less than nine months with scalable tech, data pipelines and inference systems that can evolve into ML models. However, this is just a start. With this new fitness app, we aim to bridge the gap between setting fitness goals and staying consistent with a new approach. A fully automated coaching platform without a coach that is affordable, accessible, and personalized.” – said Vishnu Venugopal – Co-founder & Chief Product Officer at Alpha Coach.
Key features and benefits of using AlphaCoach Evolve:
Features of the app
- The goal-based macro-nutrient plan generated in less than 2 minutes
- Accurate weekly adjustments in your macronutrient plan based on metabolism
- Voice-based food logging, which makes it one of the fastest food logging app
- Vast verified food database with over 18,000 Indian food s and regional recipes.
- A clear indicator of a timeline to reach a particular weight goal
- Daily Alpha Score – a program compliance score that helps you in achieving the weight goal
Benefits of using the app
- Reach your body-weight goal by investing only 5 minutes in a day
- No hard diets; manage weight at your own pace and on your terms!
- Simple, easy-to-use app – without the overwhelm
- Connect with a range of health apps and wearables to track your activity
- Visual insights of your food habits and activitly levels
- Helps you make better food choices and stay active.
You can lose the first 10% to 15% of your body weight by using AlphaCoach Evolve app.