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Do Calories Count?



One of the most controversial topics in the fitness community encompasses the importance of calories. Calorie-counting has been an ongoing frame of reference in the weight loss community, as it is widely known that calories in (the calories you get from food), vs calories out (the number of calories you burn).


But what if athletes are desiring to maintain their weight or get stronger? Is it important for endurance athletes to count them? Why or why not?

We decided to team up with Emma Ryan, to get to the bottom of this conundrum. Emma is founder of Veg Fest in Oklahoma, a certified integrative nutrition health coach, plant-based sports nutritionist, and a raw food chef that just launched her plant-based restaurant, PLANT in OKC! We are continuing our series with her over Why Food Matters.


If you daily count your calories, are you listening to your body? Do you have the right mindset about food? Does counting calories bring anything more to life then what you already have? Let's find out.

aRE WE ListenING to OUR BodDY?

When people place their attention on counting calories, they forget to pay attention to satiation. Do you feel full? Are you satisfied? "It's important to learn to listen to our bodies and grow aware of how foods affect us." Counting calories can inhibit us in in either restricting our bodies of nutrition or over-consuming food.





Are we living with the right mindset toward food?

No matter what any of Emma's client's goals are, she claims she will never encourage them to count calories. "I don’t believe counting calories is mentally or emotionally a healthy mindset to be in, food should not be looked at as just numbers. If a person is eating a whole food plant based diet - and in healthy proportions – their bodies will regulate to a healthy weight," an ideal strategy for endurance athletes to adopt in the grind of their training,"





is it sustainable to count calories for a lifetime?


It's not a sustainable way to live, "I would work with them to figure out where that idea or belief came from. A lot of the time, it has been engrained in someone's mind. We have to work on changing the belief and thought process that goes on behind the behavior, far before we can change the behavior. Therefore, do yourself a favor and ditch the counting! Feel confident in choosing whole foods and enjoy how real foods make you feel. Live your life in a way that gives you joy and freedom."






What have we learned?

  • Counting calories is not as important as is listening to how our bodies feel.

  • Counting calories can lead to an unhealthy mindset towards food.

  • Counting calories can lead to under or over-consuming food.

  • A plant-based diet in healthy proportions can prevent the need to count calories.

  • Counting calories is not a sustainable way to live.

  • Counting calories might cause us to see it as a number .



What do you want to learn more about when it comes to food/nutrition for endurance athletes? Shoot us a direct message on instagram at @higher_ground_running

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