In order to achieve maximum results from your muscle-building or fat-loss program, taking in the right amount of calories is essential.

Your calorie balance is what will dictate whether you gain or lose body weight, making it incredibly useful to track this information. Unfortunately, there are a number of calorie counting myths that people fall for that will cost them results in the long run. By making yourself aware of these myths, you can be sure that they won’t to affect your progress.

Here’s what you need to know about calorie counting myths.

Myth 1: There are negative-calorie foods.

One major calorie counting myth that circulates is that certain foods actually cause the body to expend more calories digesting them than they provide. The belief is that if you eat these foods, they will actually cause more weight loss than if you hadn't eaten them in the first place.

Reality: While there are certainly foods that provide very few calories, especially once you factor in their dietary fiber content, there are no foods that will put you in a negative calorie balance.

Myth 2: If you count carbohydrates, you don’t need to count calories.

With so many people turning to low-carbohydrate diets to lose weight, some are starting to believe that if they count carbs, they don’t need to monitor calories. Often, these individuals will feast on foods high in protein and fat such as steak, bacon, mayonnaise, and eggs, thinking that they’ll still lose weight quickly. This is a calorie counting myth that must be debunked.

Reality: If you cut out an entire macronutrient such as carbohydrates, this usually will automatically reduce your entire calorie intake. You still must be mindful of total calories though, because if you take in more than you burn, your body will still synthesize body fat.

Myth 3: Reduced-fat foods always have fewer calories.

On the other side of cutting out carbohydrates you have the belief that choosing food products labeled "low fat" will always reduce the number of calories found in them.

Reality: In many cases, the manufacturers of these products actually add more sugar to the food to increase the taste because of the removal of the fat content. Often this will bring the calories up so they are on par with the regular version, or in some cases the calories may be even higher.

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Myth 4: Your body burns more calories on low-carbohydrate diets.

The fourth calorie counting myth is that there is some magical property to low-carbohydrate diets that causes the metabolic rate to speed up so weight loss is experienced at a faster pace.Since many people do see good results from low-carb diets, this myth seems to perpetuate itself over time.

Reality: The primary reason why many appear to have so much success with low-carbohydrate diets is because of the drastic water-weight loss right from the start. This rapid loss is what’s most often noticed, making it seem like a very superior diet plan to follow.In actuality, the metabolic rate tends to slow down most on low-carbohydrate diets because carbohydrates have the biggest influence on the thyroid gland.

Myth 5: If you exercise enough, you don’t have to count calories

Finally, the last calorie counting myth is that if you’re exercising enough, you don’t need to count calories. Often individuals who feel dragged down by regulating their calorie intake will attempt to lose body fat simply by training more.

Reality: Increasing your activity levels will cause the body to burn more calories and help in terms of total weight loss, but it’s important to keep in mind that the body can only handle so much exercise. At some point, it’s going to have difficulty recovering and if overtraining sets in, fat loss will stop.Some men who have high amounts of muscle mass and a fast metabolism may get away with not regulating their calorie intake to a large extent, but there still must be some degree of moderation taking place. How much will depend on each individual.

Calorie Control

Counting calories may seem like a dreaded and girly chore, but after a week or two of regularly measuring out the foods you eat, you should be able to "eyeball" the portion size and get a good idea of about how many calories you’re eating. If you tend to gravitate to similar meals throughout the week, this will take a lot of the work out of it for you. Plus, it is the overall trend you’re looking for, so as long as you stay within a range of about 100 calories from your targeted intake, you should still get the results you’re looking for.