Does Counting Calories Help You Lose Weight?

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Is it enough to count calories to lose weight, taking in less than those that are consumed? The answer of classic dietetics, which still finds ample space, is that to lose weight you need to take in fewer calories than those necessary to satisfy your metabolism and, at the same time, carry out regular physical activity; the calorie deficit is essentially the fulcrum for the elimination of body fat.

Warning: the approach of counting calories to lose weight is not entirely wrong; however, it does not consider numerous biochemical and physiological factors that govern and condition a person’s metabolism, including the processes of accumulation or oxidation of fats. The goal of this article is to understand exactly what these factors are, in order to provide the reader with a broader view on the science of weight loss.

calculation of calories in the diet

Calories and Caloric Needs: How Appetite Regulation Works

One of the most common beliefs in dietetics is that to lose weight you need to count calories, but is it really a necessary practice? The regulation of appetite is a complex neuro-hormonal process. The intake of water and food is regulated by the hypothalamus. The brain areas involved in the regulation of food intake are 2:

  • Ventromedial hypothalamus (satiety center)
  • Lateral hypothalamus (hunger center)

According to traditional dietetics, the maintenance of body weight, as well as weight loss, is mainly based on a single foundation: the energy balance. Weight gain can occur when the energy intake is greater than the energy consumed.

On the contrary, the intake of too low a quantity of calories can lead to weight loss and above all to an insufficient energy supply for the various metabolic processes. Basically, the concept of weight loss in traditional dietetics is given by the following equation:

Food + Energy expenditure = Weight loss

This model is still widely used in dietetics for weight loss programs

It must be said that if we rely completely on satisfying this equation, the expected results cannot always be obtained, as the biochemical processes of fat accumulation in adipose tissue are not considered.

  • Ultimately, losing weight by counting calories is not an exact methodology as it is not all a question of “income and expenses”, therefore establishing how many calories to take to lose weight is not the correct method to approach weight loss.
  • To complete the discussion related to the energy expenditure of each of us, it should be noted that the caloric needs of a person depends on various factors, such as height, weight, sex, state of health or the physical exercise that is carried out (more technically level of physical activity).

This model is still widely used in dietetics for weight loss programsAge also plays a role if we consider that as it advances, the metabolism slows down, as well as a change in body composition. Furthermore, an unbalanced diet is one of the main causes of the increase in bad cholesterol, which could cause the onset of liver-related diseases such as fatty liver. For this reason, proper nutrition is the greatest ally against high cholesterol.