Calorie describes the energy the body gets from foods or uses on various activities. Many diet approaches are counting calories as a way to lose weight.
The Natural Medicine approach to weight loss is focusing on eating whole foods that are beneficial to you; those foods that keep your body fully energised and preventing sugar cravings.
While it can be a good idea to adjust serving portions, it is however really important to choose healthy foods, and not the ones that are labelled as ‘diet’ and with artificial sweeteners or 0% of fat.
What is Calorie counting?
The definition of a calorie– the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. Our bodies store and “burn” calories as fuel. It is a unit of energy widely used in nutrition.
Many diets work with counting calories and try to decrease caloric intake to lose weight.
On nutrition labels there are kilocalories (kcal), a kilocalorie is equivalent to 1000 small calories. Still, Kilocalories are sometimes called “food calories” or shortened to “calories” when referring to the energy in food.
The general theory is losing weight by eating fewer calories or burning more calories with exercise.
A calorie is a unit of measurement. A calorie measures the amount of energy in the food and drinks (plain water contain no calories) that we consume.
Food is our fuel. Healthier food provides calories (energy) and essential nutrients to build and support a healthy body.
Some foods contain “empty calories”; they provide calories but have no other nutritional value.
In natural medicine, we less emphasis on calories count and more on foods that are dense in high nutritional value, keeping in mind that every meal combines healthy sources of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Calories in Food
Different types of food provide different levels of energy.
Fat provides more calories per gram, and many diets limit the amount of fat. But, keep in mind that some types of fat are healthy and necessary for your body to function.
- Carbohydrate provides 4 calories per gram
- Protein provides 4 calories per gram
- Fat provides 9 calories per gram
Types of healthy fats that are important for a good diet are found in extra virgin olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, grass-fed butter and sources of omega 3.
Types of healthy proteins found in eggs, fish, lean meat and poultry, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) are vital to build and maintain muscle. When you have more muscle, you are better able to stay active during the day and burn more calories.
In whole-grain carbohydrates, there are good sources of fibre and other vitamins and minerals that help you to feel fuller and more satisfied and even to eat less.
Don’t focus on reducing total fat if it may result in increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and added sugars. 
Who can benefit from counting calories?
Counting and limiting calories intake can be useful to prevent weight gain and to lose weight, as long as you manage to keep dieting.
Why may it not work?
By itself, restricting calorie intake have a limited short-term impact. 
A better option is eating healthy nutrition that isn’t about low fat or fewer calories. Healthier nutrition is nourishing your body with the right nutrients that keep you consistently satisfied, full and energised.
Each of us is unique and influenced by different factors, like age, hormones, sleep, gut health and physical activity.
So, instead of keep eating low-calorie food, look for foods with high nutritional value and the ones that are suitable for you. A whole-foods based diet can help you to enjoy the food you are eating, lose weight, keep your energy up and even sleep better.
What are the alternatives to counting calories?
My favourite diet type is a whole foods-based diet, which is high in plant-based foods, but also with good quality proteins sources. When eating animal-based foods, I recommend choosing free-range, grass-fed, organic options.
What are the ways to lose weight and maintain a healthy diet naturally?
Choose a diet that is high in fibre, for drinks choose water and herbal teas as the best options, enjoy the food you are eating, learn how to cook the food you love and enjoy making it while choosing the top quality ingredients to prepare it.
Why does eating healthier foods work?
Eating whole foods-based diet works because it is not a restrictive diet that you need to stick to it, but it is a lifestyle change, and when you see the results, and you feel so good you can’t go back.
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