Nutritional Balance v/s Calorie Count: which is more important?

Neha Jain

September 2, 2019

It’s National Nutrition Week, a good time to revisit some of the myths surrounding diet and weight loss. Let’s take a look at the concept of a calorie deficit, for instance. We’ve all been told that to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn.

However, this is not entirely true. If someone that is completely inactive reduces their calorie intake in order to create a calorie deficit, their nutritional needs cannot be met. This could lead to nutritional deficiencies and muscle loss, leading to new health problems. That said, it is important to keep an eye on your calorie intake, and maintain it as per your physical activity levels in order to lose weight.

Research has shown that a nutrient balanced diet always trumps one based on calorie count. Studies have shown that diets solely based on calorie count can actually lead to malnutrition. This is why it’s important you know about the essential nutrients your body needs.

balanced diet

To lose weight and stay healthy, you need to focus on getting enough carbs, protein and fat instead of just counting calories (like a 100-calorie pack). You’ll be more energetic and stay full for longer, which in turn will help you burn fat. Remember, the ultimate intention is to lose fat without compromising on your health.

So rather than focusing on just calories, take a look at your food choices too. Here are some nutrition tips you should follow:

  1. Eating breakfast is important, but don’t grab a cereal bar. Instead, opt for lean protein like eggs or any other dairy product, whole-grains in the form of toast, oats, a healthy cereal and a serving of fruits or vegetables. There’s also a whole host of Indian breakfast options that are considered best for health.
  2. Your lunch and dinner should also be composed of nutritious whole foods, based on the three macronutrients — protein, carbohydrate and fat. Just under one quarter of your plate should be made up of fruits, a little over a quarter vegetables and the other half split between grains and protein, with a serving of dairy, too. Start your meal with a salad. Aim for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, stick to lean meats like chicken and fish or low-fat dairy. Whole-wheat tava rotis or brown rice are other good choices. Include beans and root vegetables in your diet, too.
  3. If you prefer to eat more frequently, cut your meal sizes slightly and add in a couple of healthy snacks such as fruit or unsalted nuts. There are several healthy snack recipes you can choose from too.
  4. Include plenty of high nutrient low calorie foods including fruits and vegetables in your diet. They are filled with nutrients, water and fiber, taking up a lot of space in the stomach without the same amount of calories. There are plenty of nutrient rich low calorie foods. Some of the best choices are:
  • 1 cup of broccoli (31 calories)
  • 1 cup of carrots (50 calories)
  • 1 cup of celery (14 calories)
  • 1 cup of cucumber (14 calories)
  • 1 cup of cooked spinach (41 calories)
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes (27 calories)
  • 2-3 tbsp of Italian Dressing or Hummus to dip the veggies into! (80 calories or so)

calorie foods

If you are trying to lose weight, you want to maximize nutrients while reasonably minimizing calories so you can satisfy your body’s needs while still being in a moderate calorie deficit. Restricting your calorie intake too much by eating very less can spoil your health and adversely affect your health, and cause your metabolism rate to take a hit.

Ideally, you should ensure healthy eating in order to lose weight in a healthy manner. Follow the tips mentioned above, and continue to eat healthy, and stay healthy.

About the Author

She may have multiple degrees to back her expertise, but Neha Jain believes there’s nothing too complex about nutrition. Neha completed her MSc in Food and Nutrition from Delhi University and also did a Diploma in Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences. Neha is also a Certified Diabetes Educator with extensive experience in endocrinological disorders and weight reduction, having worked with renowned endocrinologist Dr Ambrish Mithal in Delhi. Neha’s goal has always been to help people make healthy choices, and while at HealthifyMe, she always felt that her task was simplified with its technology.

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