Is it effective to count the calories? Or should you focus on nutrition instead?
As you’ve probably noticed, every product label contains some information, regarding the Percent Daily Values. According to those values, the recommended daily intake is always estimated at 2000 calories. However, a daily calorie intake doesn’t have a standard value and it can often be higher or lower, depending on the person in cause. That’s just a reference unit, provided by the FDA, in order to give ourselves a margin. The Percent Daily Values intake is a more accurate statistic, because it gives us information on the important nutrients that we need to consume. So nutrients like fibers, fat, vitamins and sodium are way more important than the actual calories. The Percent Daily Values can also be affected by factors such as activity levels, sex, age, health level. Depending on them, you can establish a proper diet, which will help you keep your weight in balance and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What’s a calorie?
Even though the FDA standards can be considered helpful in giving us a reference point, this isn’t the only way of reaching a healthy and balanced diet. Before understanding how to reach a balanced diet, let’s find out more about the calorie. According to USDA, a calorie is a measurement unit, which defines the energy, provided by a beverage or a food. But the nutrients also have an important role here and based on them, the calorie level may differ. Finding out about the calorie level is easy. Every product manufacturer is legally required to label a detailed chart, containing all the calories / nutritional value information. There are also plenty of useful online tools like USDA’s Super Tracker, which will give you the needed info, in just a few minutes.
How can you be sure about the calorie count?
There are plenty of situations in which you cannot count the calories of a certain meal. So, if you eat at a friend, dine at a restaurant or cook yourself a homemade meal, you cannot establish a proper calorie count. In this particular situation, you will need to create a mindful eating pattern, and adapt on your body’s needs, instead of focusing on numbers.
That’s why, it’s healthier to focus on the nutritional value instead of the calorie number. According to some FDA reports, most Americans don’t include enough fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron and calcium in their daily diets. This approach is entirely wrong and it contributes to a lot of diseases like: hearth disease, osteoporosis and other chronic diseases. A diet based on fruit, vegetables and grain is ideal for our body, and will fill our organism with energy.
What’s the best way of evaluating a nutritional value of a product?
A very important thing before establishing that, is to know if you’re dealing with a processed type of food. For example a bag of chips, might be lower in calories than an avocado. However, the chips will lack any nutritional substances like vitamin C, monosaturated fats or dietary fiber. It goes without saying that in this case, the avocado is the healthier choice, despite its higher calorie level. On the same thought, we have to say that added sugar has no nutritional value and it’s just empty calories.
The food’s color is also an important standard of evaluating a nutritional value of a certain product. A vibrant palette of colors, means that your food is a healthy one.
You should also focus on how the food makes you feel. Normally, a healthy meal will make you more energized and your stomach will be settled. If you’re feeling a constant headache every time you’re eating a certain meal or if you’re feeling groggy, than you should avoid eating that type of food because it’s clearly not good for you.
If you want to have a well rounded diet, then variety is the key. A single type of food cannot fill your body with all the needed nutritive substances and that’s why, you have to diversify your diet.
If you focus less on counting the calories and more on evaluating the nutritional value of your foods, you will manage to be more energized, healthy and keep your weight in balance. Keep yourself informed and focus only on the important things.