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Busting the myths about calories – the urban legend

You may think you know all about calories. You have been counting them, cutting them, and adding them up for most of your life! But when it comes to weight loss, there’s actually still a lot of confusion out there about calorie counting and many of the most common beliefs are really just myths. Here some of the most persistent calorie counting myths:

Myth: All calories are equal - Plenty of people believe that as long as they stick to a certain number of calories per day, they’re eating healthy. Reality: You cannot compare 100 calories of salmon to 100 calories of soda.

Myth: Counting calories is essential for losing weight. Reality: If you obsess over calories, you will lose focus and get frustrated.

Balancing your diet and understanding food is a lot more critical.

Different calorie sources can have vastly different effects on hunger, hormones, energy level and the brain regions that control food intake. Even though calories are important, counting them, or even being consciously aware of them, is not at all necessary to lose weight.

In many cases, simple changes in food selection can lead to the same or better results than restricting your calorie intake.

There's no denying that calories are everywhere, from adverts on your screens to the information labels on the back of your food packaging, even on restaurant menus – really!!!

Do I want to know how many calories are in a Tarte Tatin – I don’t, because it’s a treat!

Just the number of calories on a pack or a menu is misleading.

Not all calories are equal! If you, like many, believe that as long as you stick to a fixed number of daily calories, you’ll be eating healthily, think again.

For example, 100 calories of salmon and 100 calories of soda! To get your 100 calories, of soda you’ll drink 2/3rd of a can and that is mostly sugar, perhaps some additives and E numbers, which is likely to spike your glucose levels.

About 50g of salmon would also give you 100 calories, and that is mostly protein and essential fatty acids! Protein is essential to building muscle mass and it also increases satiety to a greater extent than carbohydrate or fat.

Quite a difference isn't there? Balancing the food groups across that recommended 2,000 or 2,500 calories is key. Splitting your intake down so it consists of protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals and everything else you need, is really important. The golden ratio according to the World Health Organization is: Fat (30%), Carbs (40%), Protein (30%).

Counting calories is essential for losing weight, right? Yes and no! If you waste your time obsessing over the number of calories you're consuming, you'll just get frustrated, lose your focus and likely put the weight back on as soon as you stop counting. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and understanding more about the food you eat is much more important than counting every calorie. The composition on the label will tell you a lot more than how many calories it has!

So what does it all mean? Diets do not work! Understanding your body and being clear as to what you want to achieve is key. From there, I will help you understand food and make the right choice that works for you. And yes, exercise is part of this, as strong muscles are important.

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