It’s often claimed you’ll lose weight if you eat fewer calories, but is this really the case? Personally, I’m not a fan of counting calories, and here’s why.
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I’ve tried many different methods of weight loss in my life, and most of them have failed. Also, all those methods have involved some kind of calorie reduction and calorie counting. Coincidence?
It wasn’t until I changed my habits and my lifestyle that I was able to lose weight and keep it off. There was no calorie counting involved.
Calorie reduction is the most recommended weight loss method. The logic behind it is simple: if you consume fewer calories than you spend, you’ll lose weight. It’s based on scientific principles, so it has to work, right?
Wrong. Calorie counting and calorie reduction is not always an effective weight loss method, and it’s certainly not a long-term solution. In fact, it can often be a gigantic waste of time. Why? I have a few good reasons.
Why Counting Calories is a Gigantic Waste of Time
Counting calories isn’t an exact science
The amount of calories listed on food labels is not precise because there’s no precise method of measuring calories. In fact, labeling allows for a 20% margin of error. This means that a protein bar labeled as having 150 calories could actually have 180 calories or more.
Even if you dutifully count every single calorie you consume, you could be eating 20% more calories than you think. Or perhaps you could be eating 20% fewer calories, which is just as bad.
Your body is not a calculator
The old calories-in-and-calories-out logic may be based on scientific principles, but your body doesn’t work like a calculator. It doesn’t necessarily absorb all the calories you’re taking in, and it also doesn’t burn calories like we would like it to.
Calorie absorption depends on the kind of food you eat, on how it’s cooked, and even on the amount of your gut bacteria.
On the other hand, your calorie burn depends on your metabolism, on your genes, on your hormones, on how stressed you are and how much sleep you’re getting.
So you can count all the calories you want, but your calculations could be way off.
Quality is more important than quantity
When you focus only on calories, you might end up forgetting that quality is better than quantity.
For example, you can eat 300 calories worth of cookies and it would be fine if it fits into your daily calorie count, right? But the problem here is 300 calories of cookies don’t contain enough adequate nutrients to fuel your body. So in the long term, you might end up doing your body more harm than good.
In contrast, you can eat 300 calories worth of protein and veggies, and it would still fit into your daily calorie count but this would be a much better meal. In this case, you’d be giving your body enough nutrients and you’ll do a lot more good to it.
So while counting calories can be helpful to a certain extent, making healthy food choices is much better for your body.
Counting calories is not a long-term weight loss solution
I’ve read countless articles stating that a low-calorie diet is the best way to lose weight. In other words, eat less move more.
However, can you really see yourself counting calories every single day for the rest of your life? Or what are you going to do when you can’t do it anymore? Can you really take out your phone and log your meal when you’re eating out with friends? I don’t know about you, but that would make me go crazy.
Counting calories can be useful tool. It can give you an idea of whether you’re eating too much or too little, but I don’t think you should make a habit out of it. From personal experience, I can tell you it gets boring very soon, and it’s also pretty useless in the end.
Personally, I’ve found counting calories and macros takes all the joy out of eating, and it also makes you deaf to your body’s needs.
Think about it. If you’re concentrated on making sure you keep to a daily calorie count, you’ll lose touch with your body’s signals. You might be hungry, but you can’t eat because you already consumed your daily calorie allotment. Or perhaps you’re not hungry at all, but you haven’t eaten enough calories for the day. Where’s the benefit in that?
Try this instead of counting calories!
So what can you do if you want to eat a healthy diet and lose weight? Eat mindfully.
Eating mindfully can get you in touch with your body’s needs and it can also help you lose weight. Here are some easy ways to do it:
- Measure portion sizes.
- Sit down to eat at the table.
- Turn the TV off and leave your phone alone. Concentrate on your meal.
- Take small bites and chew them slowly. Enjoy the different flavors.
- Eat slowly. Take at least 20 minutes to finish your meal.
- Stop eating when you’re full.
If you’re still in the habit of counting, you can count this instead of calories:
- Count 8 glasses of water a day.
- Count at least 1 serving of produce in every meal.
- Count at least 3 workout sessions a week.
- Count 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
Your eating habits are a huge part of a healthy lifestyle, and counting calories doesn’t help to make you healthy or happy, but it will make you stressed, obsessed, and perhaps a little bit crazy. You might lose a few pounds at first, but it won’t work in the long term.
I lost 50 pounds after my last pregnancy and none of it was through counting calories. Instead, I changed my habits and my lifestyle. Losing weight and keeping it off requires a plan that you can keep for the long term, and counting every calorie is impossible to do for the long term.
If you want to be healthy and lose weight, be more mindful of your body’s needs. Pick up healthy habits like drinking more water, eating more vegetables, and get more exercise. Do what gives you and your body joy. Health is a lot more than just numbers.