Back to the blog

Which One Is Best? Calorie Counting vs. Low Carb 

 If you have just begun your weight loss journey, you are probably constantly searching for various effective methods that you can use to reach your goals. From diet to exercise, there is no shortage of helpful strategies for losing weight. 

Diet and exercise are the two most significant components to losing weight. A healthy diet will not be nearly as effective without a consistent exercise routine. As you may have heard in the past, dieting has gained a negative connotation.

Nowadays, dieting is more about developing healthy eating habits instead of cutting out entire food groups to lose weight or gain muscle. Dieting is an umbrella term because of all the different eating methods and strategies that can be used for weight gain, loss, and overall upkeep of your health. 

Nobody’s perfect. There will be days when you will have too many calories or carbs and days when you don’t get enough. However, knowing how to manage your intake of both calories and carbs is essential. If you can keep your daily calorie or carb numbers hovering around a consistent number, it will go a long way in helping you lose weight. 

If you have a general idea of what calories and carbs are, great! If you don’t, no big deal. We’re here to help answer all of your questions regarding both and how they can aid in your weight loss journey.

You might be wondering, which one is better: counting calories or counting carbs? Below, you’ll find a breakdown of both methods. 

What Is a Calorie?

A calorie is a small measure of energy. The cells in our body have different tasks and functions, and calories provide them with energy. With a dangerously low-calorie intake, your body won’t have enough energy to make it through the day. On the flip side, if you consume too many calories, it can lead to weight gain. 

Some foods offer nutritional value and calories that support your health, while other foods contain empty calories. These types of calories are detrimental to your health and weight loss journey, as they have no added nutritional value and often include alarmingly high sugar and fat levels. 

Foods such as cookies and donuts are huge culprits for empty calories. Soda and energy drinks also can be harmful due to their high sugar content. While they may be tasty, they have high sugar, fat, and calorie levels that can derail the progress you’ve made, not to mention they usually contain zero nutritional value. 

What Determines How Many Calories I Need?

Sex, age, preexisting conditions, and weight are factors that can help determine how many calories you should consume every day. 

For example, an average woman with a goal of maintaining her weight should consume around 2,000 calories per day; for the average man, that number slightly jumps to 2,500. If either of them wanted to lose weight, they would need to drop that total calorie count by about 500 calories. 

Your numbers may vary depending on the factors mentioned above, but the idea stays the same. You’ll want to burn more calories than you consume without dropping that number down to an unsafe level. Daily consumption of fewer than 1,000 calories is an extremely harmful weight-loss method and should be avoided at all times. 

How Do I Count Calories?

To count calories, most foods will have a food label that includes all the nutritional information that you need. Keep in mind that these labels will often include a “per serving” indication, meaning that the number of calories you are consuming will depend on how much of that food you eat. 

By using an app like Able, you can easily track what food you eat on a daily basis. Regardless of what you eat or drink, Able can help you manage your calorie intake with ease. If you are unsure how many calories you should be consuming, Able has a calorie budget feature that can suggest the proper amount of calories you should be eating based on your weight goals.

Overall, calorie counting can help you:

  • Burn more calories than you consume to help you lose weight. 
  • Be very mindful of your calorie consumption levels as too much and too little can be harmful. 
  • Count calories using food labels or getting a rough estimate from a quick online search. 
  • Watch the type of calories you consume. Junk food like chips and soda contains empty calories and is extremely harmful to your health goals.

Now that we have a good idea of what calorie counting is, let’s take a look at carb counting. 

What Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are an energy source our body uses to function throughout the day. 

Carbs are converted into a type of sugar called glucose. Glucose is used as a source of energy by the body that raises your blood sugar levels (i.e. blood glucose levels). 

How Many Carbs Should I Be Consuming?

It is recommended that the average person consumes around 135 grams of carbohydrates a day. However, this will depend on age, sex, and weight. 

For example, pregnant women need at least 175 grams of carbs every day to nourish their energy levels and be able to share that energy with their baby. 

If you are unsure how many carbs you should be consuming, try using an online calculator.

What Foods Are Carb-Free?

Animal protein such as steak, chicken, and fish contain zero carbs. Eating these kinds of foods is a great way to increase your calorie intake without having to worry about how many carbs you’re consuming. 

Like calories, you can find the carb levels on the Nutrition Facts labels. It’s a lot easier to reach your carb intake goals than you might think. For example, one slice of bread equals roughly 15 grams of carbs. So, if you make a sandwich, you can get up to 50 or more grams of carbs, depending on what else you put in it. 

How Do I Count Carbs?

Carb counting is essential in watching your weight as it is very easy to go over the recommended amount throughout your day. Just like calories, carbs can also be tracked with an app. By using an app, it can help you determine how many carbs are in the foods you consume. If you want to avoid high-carb foods, be sure to do your research before purchasing food or produce.

Now that we have covered calorie counting and carb counting, let’s review everything so you can decide what method is best for you.

Which Method Is Right for Me, and How Can Able Help? 

It all depends on your goals and which method appeals more to your lifestyle. Both are easy enough to track and will help you evolve your weight loss routine. You’ve read the facts about both strategies, but you shouldn’t be in any rush to make a decision. Weight loss takes time and finding a routine that works for you specifically is important.

We get it; sometimes, it’s simply too much of an inconvenience to check every label of every food you eat and calculate your calorie or carb intake. Planning a weight loss routine can be overwhelming. You’re eventually going to need some assistance with keeping track of what you eat, and Able is here to help. Record what you eat throughout the day to see if you’re close to going over your recommended calorie or carb intake.

By tracking your calories or carbs with Able, you’ll be well on your way to living a healthier lifestyle. 


Calories | NCBI

What Are Empty CalorieCalories | NCBIs? | University of Michigan

Counting Carbohydrates | MedlinePlus

Carb Counting | CDC 

Healthy Eating for Diabetes | UC Davis 

Try Able for 7 days