The Definition of Diets: Calorie Counting

The Definition of Diets: Calorie Counting

Diets can be dated back as long as 400BC, but the first record of dietary books can be dated back to 1500. When we think of the term 'diet', we often think of dietary changes to the current way that we consume food.

Definition of Diets

However, diets refer to the total intake of food and drink in which we consume as an individual. When one is attempting to engage with dieting, it typically refers to altering this and subsequently achieving a certain weight as a result.

With that being said, there are multiple factors that contribute to someone's diet, such as religious beliefs, ethical beliefs and dietary requirements such as intolerances and allergies. Below we have outlined some of the types of diets that one may have and given a brief explanation as to what their diet may look like.

Vegetarian/Vegan Diets

This type of diet consists of foods that are not made from animals and/or animal products. Some vegetarian diets are based on religious and ethical beliefs, such as sacred animals or the belief that animal products should not be consumed due to the concerns of animal welfare.

Additionally, it can be because of health reasons where more fruit and vegetables are recommended. There are different types of diets that are under the vegetarian/vegan scope, such as:

  • Fruitarian - primarily consists of fresh/raw fruits
  • Lacto vegetarian - a vegetarian diet that contains certain types of diary, but not eggs and products that consist of animal rennet
  • Ovo vegetarian - a vegetarian diet that contains eggs, but no dairy
  • Ovov-lacto vegetarian - a vegetarian diet that includes eggs and dairy

Religious Diets

There are many religions where a specific diet is considered to be a part of the practices. For example, the following religions have the following diets:

Islam - Halal foods, which include eggs, vegetables, fruit and if they do eat meat products, they must be halal, which means the meat has been prepared and processed within a specific way that meets the requirements of halal meat.

Hinduism - There is a large majority of the Hindu community who eat a lacto-vegetarian diet, which means that they avoid eating meat and eggs. Though, this will vary. Most Hindu's will not consume beef as the cow is considered to be a sacred holy animal.

Judaism - The diet for Jewish people will require food to be kosher. This means that the meat they eat will have been killed and prepared in a way that meets their religiously trained workers.

Sikhism - This religion will typically allow individuals to decide for themselves on how they would like to consume their meat, if at all. However, with that being said most diets are vegetarian.

Fasting

Fasting is a considered to be a part of diets that can be for religious reasons or it can be a form of diet that is used to help your body burn fat. Within Islamic religions, Muslims will fast during Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this they will refrain from eating food and liquids between sunrise and sunset.

There are exemptions for fasting, such as women who are menstruating, pregnant, breastfeeding and or chronically ill. In addition, children under 12 are also exempt. The notion of fasting comes from the idea that Muslims are able to devote themselves to their faith and become closer to God.

For other forms of fasting, it is thought that intermittent fasting, which includes the process of not eating for a certain number of hours eat day, or just eating one meal a couple days throughout the week, can help you to lose weight.

If you are looking to start a fasting diet, it is always best to speak to your doctor and discuss with them the best way to approach this diet.

Liquid Diets

Liquid diets are based upon the notion that you will get your daily intake of calories through liquids. This can be used for health reasons and or a form of diet designed to help you lose weight.

The typical liquid diet for weight loss can consist of blending fruits and or vegetables, consuming fruit juice or smoothies. The idea is that these will replace your meals, whether that be just one or all. The typical times this will happen is for breakfast. This is not a widely recommended diet and should not be done for long periods at a time. Always consult your doctors before you start a liquid diet.

Note that there are a lot of risks that are involved with such diet as a very low calorie diet can cause you to lack the vital proteins, vitamins and minerals that you need.

Additionally, some people are placed on a liquid diet based upon health reasons that prevent them from being able to digest or swallow solid foods.

Detox Diets

Detox diets are becoming increasingly popular and they are based on the idea that this diet will rid the body of harmful toxins. There is no evidence to suggest that this actually works, but they are short term dietary changes that can consist of fasting, eating fruit, vegetables, juices and water.

Additional elements will sometimes incorporate the use of herbs, teas, supplements and other types of bodily cleanses such as enemas. There are concerns that come with this as it should be a very limited diet change as the diet often involves a very limited amount of food.

Low-Fat Diets

Low-fat diets consist of eating foods that do not have a high fat content. This form of diet is often coupled with exercise in order to achieve a healthly weight loss. This diet alone, it not always effective enough.

To do this diet, you will need to consume foods, such as fruit, vegetables and a moderate serving of meat. Try to pick foods that are low in fat as a substitute for your current diet. Reduce your fat intake, but remember that a certain amount of fat is required for good health.

High in Fats Diet

High fat diets will typically accompany a low-carb one. This means that ketones from fat are used for energy instead of glucose. It is thought that it helps individuals to lose weight because when you reduce the amount of carbs that you are eating, the body will then use fat stores as energy.

Note that this is not a confirmed dietary scheme and some studies suggest that it can be dangerous and could cause health conditions.

Carnivore Diet

This diet consists of only eating animal products and the consumption of large amounts of meat and poultry. This diet has other names, such as 'all meat diet', but there is not evidence to suggest that this diet is effective. Though, it does claim to aid weight loss and other health issues.

Speak to your doctor before you consider this type of diet.

Counting Calorie Diets

Calorie counting diets are based on the idea that you will consume foods and stay within a targeted number of calories for each day. This is becoming an incredibly popular method of losing weight.

The idea is that you will choose foods based on their calorie content and substituting those foods that are high is calories and swapping them out for something with less calories. However, with that being said, it is harder to do than we think.

You need to know how many calories you should be having in order to lose weight. Whilst it is recommended that women have around 2000 and men should have around 2500 it may differ in order to maintain your weight.

You also need to ensure that you are picking the right kind of calories to eat. Staying under your calories might be easy, but that doesn't automatically mean that you are eating foods that will help you lose weight.

There are counting calorie apps that help you to pick the right decision when using a calorie counted diet as a method to losing weight. You need to ensure that you are consuming less calories than you burn.

The benefits of calorie counting diets

Calorie counting diets do have their benefits and can provide the following for those who have decided to take on this form of dieting.

Structure

It can provide structure for those are struggling with weight loss as it shows you exactly how many calories you should be eating and how many you have already consumed. In addition, it also gives you a sense of accountability, by you being able to visualise the process of eating more than what you should have.

You can also use this method to create meal plans which also give structure to eating for those who struggle with it.

Motivational

It can provide motivation for a lot of people due to its structure. This clear and concise diet can help individuals to feel motivated and when your diet has improved, you will start to see the effects and thus more motivation will be felt. The calorie counting diet can help individuals to make behavioural changes as well as change their overall eating habits.

Food Choices

Providing you are following the diet correctly, it can help you to make much better choices when you are picking your food. For example, would you rather spend 1200 calories on one unhealthy meal or space out your calories and eat healthier meals.

Educational

Counting your calories can help you to become better educated on what food choices you should be making in order for food to become much more beneficial for you. A lot of people will just pick a food and eat it without realising how many calories they are consuming but when we calorie count, we are able to monitor just how much of something we are putting into our bodies and we then know what is the better choice for the future.

Assistance

You are able to get assistance throughout the process of counting calories through calorie counting apps that can help you keep track. You are able to scan the barcode of your food and add this to your daily total of calories. Note that these are not always accurate.

The disadvantages of calorie counting diets

Whilst there are advantages to calorie counting diets, it is important to consider the disadvantages so that you are able to recognise them within your own journey and ensure that they are limited as much as possible where you are able to.

Obsessive

Counting your calories can quickly become obsessive and whilst ensuring you are not over eating is good, you do not want to become obsessed with counting what you eat. This can cause you to avoid fats that you need in order to maintain a health diet for fear of going over your calories. This could then potentially cause eating disorders.

Remember that each day is different and exceeding your calories by a couple days does not mean that you have failed. Treats every now and then are not going to be a concern. Remember to listen to your body and your mind.

Time Consuming

Calculating every calorie that you eat can sometimes be time consuming and cause the notion of eating to become monotonous. Additionally, it can make decisions at dinner time harder and you need to understand that people's metabolism works different and this process may take longer if you are not exercising alongside dieting.

It can also ruin food for you as calculating your meals can ruin the appeal.

Calculating Errors

You may be subject to miscalculating your calories. This can become increasingly common if you are using calorie counting apps to assist you. With some apps, you can scan the barcode of your food and this will add the nutrition content to a daily list and at the end of the day, it will provide you with a list of all foods you have eaten today and how many calories where consumed in total for that day.

However, with this comes the risk that you are slightly miscalculating your calories. This is because calories can vary based upon the serving size and how you prepare and cook the food. This is quite often left out of calorie counting apps.

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