Why calorie counting doesn’t work…

How many calories have you counted in an attempt to lose weight, improve your health, and get back to feeling like yourself again?

Probably too many to count, and I bet you didn’t get the results you wished for, or if you did, they were short-lived.

I was an obsessive calorie counter for the longest time. I used to log every bite I took, and I even religiously wore an Apex Bodybugg (a calorie-burning tracking device) for years.

However, I still struggled to lose and maintain weight despite my dedicated calorie-counting efforts.

For the longest time, we’ve been told that counting calories is the formula for better health and weight loss – it’s all about eating less and moving more right?

Not exactly. This is a massive over-simplification of what it actually takes to feel great and lose weight.

I’ve seen this calories-in-versus-calories-out equation fall short for many others as well.  This broken approach is a big reason why I became a Functional Health Practitioner – because as a personal trainer back in the day, my clients weren’t getting results even though they were exercising and watching what they ate. They too continued to struggle with not only their weight but also other health issues, despite their dedication to move more and eat less, just like I did.

This consistent pattern inspired me to question the status quo and search for the missing pieces of the ideal weight and health puzzle.

And sure enough, as I dug into how the body works, the data clearly showed why calorie counting falls short for so many people, and certainly doesn’t support long-term sustainable results.

So if you’re counting calories, here are 4 primary reasons why you should stop…

Reason #1: Calorie Calculations Aren’t Accurate.
A study by the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center found that “our bodies sometimes extract fewer calories than the number listed on the label. Participants in their studies absorbed around a third fewer calories from almonds than the modified Atwater values suggest. For walnuts, the difference was 21 percent.” (Read more on the study here.)

Aside from the body extracting fewer calories than what you think you’re consuming, food manufacturers are also allowed to underreport calorie values by as much as 20% to pass inspection by the FDA.

So there’s no way to know exactly how many calories you consume.

Reason #2: One Fat Pound Doesn’t Equal 3,500 Calories.
It’s been said that in order to lose a pound per week, you need to have a weekly caloric deficit of 3,500 calories, and supposedly 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat.

Researcher Zoe Harcombe eloquently debunks this myth in her research, where she shows that one pound of fat actually does not equal 3,500 calories, but that it can range from 2,843 to 3,752 calories. (See Zoe’s full breakdown here.)

This, paired with reason #1, makes this calorie equation even messier and inaccurate. It’s impossible to calculate your exact caloric deficit due to these variances, too big of a deficit can quickly slow down your metabolism (ability to lose weight) and nutrient deficiencies, which will stall results.

Reason #3: First Law of Thermodynamics Myth.
The weight loss formula of calories-in versus calories-out is said to be based on the first law of thermodynamics: energy is neither destroyed nor created, it’s simply transformed. The energy of a calorie is said to be transformed with exercise and burned off in the form of heat.

Here’s the flaw: this law only applies to closed systems where there are no outlets. As Sean Croxton pointed out years ago, “The human body seems pretty damn open to me. It pees, poops, and sweats into the environment.”

The body definitely is not a closed system, so how can it abide by the first law of thermodynamics? It’s ingesting, converting, and excreting energy all of the time!

Reason #4: All Calories Are NOT Created Equal.
When counting calories, you naturally try to conserve what you’ll spend your calories on. This often leads to a food scarcity mindset, triggering you to choose foods that are less nutrient-dense and less satiating (such as 100-calorie pack snacks) in order to feel like you get to eat more and more frequently.

Fats contain 9 calories per gram, while protein and carbs contain 4 calories per gram.

At first glance, it appears as though carbs and proteins would be the ideal choice when counting calories. However, animal fats contain some of the most essential fat-soluble nutrients, such as Vitamin D, K, and Omegas while animal proteins contain the most complete combinations of amino acids necessary for cellular function and muscle maintenance or growth.

To get the same nutrient values from carbohydrates, you would need to eat twice as much, plus higher-carb diets spike blood sugar levels throughout the day, resulting in more cravings and leading to insulin resistance, which then causes weight gain.

Alternatively, eating more fat and protein can balance blood sugar, cut cravings, and they are both better sources of fuel for the brain and body.

Aside from all of this, calorie restriction can even cause weight gain in some cases, especially if you have a thyroid or other underlying hormone imbalance.

In this week’s video and blog, I’ll explain exactly why calorie counting doesn’t work and the new approach to diet you need to achieve your ideal body and health.

Once I stopped counting and calculating, I finally started getting real results.  Losing and maintaining my weight was no longer a struggle; it came naturally.

Instead of counting calories, I started eating foods that were right for my body so it could function at its potential and be the natural fat-burning machine it was meant to be. This same approach has proven to be successful for all of my clients too.

When you’re eating the foods that are right for your body so it can function at its potential, you will:

  • Have an abundance of energy that lasts all day
  • Sleep more soundly and wake up feeling rested
  • Feel satisfied between meals and no longer need to snack
  • Support hormone balance, detoxification, and other bodily functions

All of which support the body’s ability to easily lose or maintain weight, and for you to feel great!

So you might be wondering, how do I know what foods are right for my body?

The first step to finding what foods are right for your body is paying attention to how food makes you feel and knowing there is a difference between eating healthy and eating right for your body.

Eating right for your body will incorporate healthy foods, but not every “healthy” food is right for your body.

Next, aim to eat foods that make you feel all-around good; the foods that keep you feeling full for extended periods, that give you energy, and that DON’T leave you feeling bloated, anxious, or tired. These foods tend to be whole, organic vegetables, animal proteins, and fats that don’t come in a bag, box, can, or 100-calorie pack.

And always eat with intention.

Before you take a bite, grab something on the go, or sit down to prepare a meal, consider how you want to feel and if the food you’re about to eat is in alignment with that feeling.

You’ll probably find that most of your calorie-counting type foods don’t meet these requirements because they result in energy crashes, cravings, bloating, anxiety, or a variety of other ailments.

These simple steps will help you find foods that balance your blood sugar and boost your metabolism to support weight loss or maintenance.

Click here to get my Food & Body Language Log for FREE to easily figure out what foods are right for your body so you can feel your best, without counting a single calorie.

As a recovered calorie counter, I can tell you this more natural and mindful approach to eating is much more sustainable. It produces the long-lasting results you desire, so you’ll never have to get back on that calorie-counting rollercoaster ride ever again!

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