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Calorie and macro counting, 80/20 diet, lower carbs and fats? What should I do?

When starting a new meal plan and changing habits, there are many tools in social media to add to your life and facilitate your healthy life. The list is huge, but let's talk about the most popular and if you should do them or do something else.

Calorie Counting and Macro Counting

It's basically counting the energy and macros you intake in your day so that it matches the distribution of what you should be eating according to weight goals,exercise, genre, age, height, etc.

In theory the reason that most people that have a high body fat percentage is because they have a high caloric intake. So in theory to lose body fat we have to eat less food for less caloric intake, and so tracking calories to eat less is the way to go.

You must be tracking every single thing you eat or drink, this quite tedious above that IS NOT THAT ACCURATE.

For starters we have to take into account the caloric biodisponibility, or the amount of absorption it has. For example NUTS. Nuts have a high caloric intake in a small portion, but the presentation is more important to know what quantity of energy we will absorb.

Let’s say we are eating one palm of peanuts,when we chew we are eating a gross calorie quantity, this means that some will absorb, but some won’t, this depends on how well the nut is smashed or dissolved on the mouth and stomach, and a great portion will to get out without any absorption.

But when we have a peanut butter teaspoon it’s a different story, most likely that all or most caloric intake will be absorbed, because it is more easy to digest.

Some negative of this is that it's time consuming to track everything you eat, it may cause an obsession around food and it only works on the short term.

In the long term, reducing calorie intake causes hormonal and metabolic changes that may cause less thermogenic effects on the body, and regain weight that was lost.


  • Is it for me?

If you have time to track everything you eat, you don’t have any history of eating disorders or any food problems, you are organized, and you realize this is a really short term tool, this is for you.

We have to take into account that even if you eat some food that's high in calories when tracking calories and reducing calories that doesn’t mean that you screw up, it's normal, natural and also healthy for the body.

80/20 rule

This rule is known as the PARETO PRINCIPLE, saying that 80% of the outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event. So in dieting this is translated as, 80% of your meals should be “healthy” high in fiber, nutritious food, water, etc and the 20% should be your favorite foods and treats.

It's a more flexible, more adequate and sustainable eating pattern. The only thing is, you must organize beforehand so you know when that 20% will be taken on the week and that 80% as well, let’s say it will be only on the weekends or every day at a specific time or meal. Here are some examples:

Weekend 20%:

Distributed throughout the week:

  • Is it for you?

It's a more flexible lifestyle, so if you are traveling a lot, a student or just busy, it's a great option for you. You should also consider:

  • Organization and Studying: Like we said you must organize to plan your meals of the 80% and 20%.

  • Studying: You might need the help of a nutritionist to guide you or you can study how to balance your meals as well to include high fiber, natural veggies, cereals, low-fat meats, yogurt, legumes and healthy fats.

Lowering fats and carbs

Another option is just focusing on lowering fats and or carbs,ou can focus on just lowering carbs or fat or both, you don’t have to count anything and the organization time is minimal. The objective is to reduce food that are mainly carbs and/ or fats.

The main thing is that you should know what types of food have that characteristic, and focus on reducing them on a normal day basis and finding better options when eating those foods.

Is it for you?

If you are quite busy, this is a great option for you. And you can actually combine with the 80/ 20 rule.

The only thing is that you must be able to one day sit and create groceries lists and study what types of other options there are to eat, what better options there are and try and see beforehand the many options that you have in restaurants and grocery stores.

These are the most popular tools, but we can’t always keep up, every day there is always a new product, diet or tool that's coming up promising the “miracle effect”. But don’t get caught up on these trends or the promises. Focus on finding a tool that works for you, that doesn't affect your physical or mental health, that you can sustain, that's easy and that you enjoy.



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