7 Reasons To Stop Calorie Counting
Should we stop calorie counting? Yes, yes and yes!! Counting calories is time consuming, can be wildly inaccurate, and is increasingly controversial in the world of weight loss. While some insist on the simple formula ‘eat less calories than you burn and you will lose weight’, for many this just doesn’t seem to work.
- The body is great at adapting – if you give your body less calories it will simply slow down and use less energy for its internal processes. People following a low calorie diet may well notice weight loss at first - and thus believe that their method works - but once the body gets used to the calorie reduction the weight loss tends to plateau.
- The quality of calories is important – if food is nutrient-dense it boosts metabolism and provides the body with a rich supply of nutrients to maintain and repair tissue, all of which takes energy. By focusing on great quality food you can actually eat more calories and still lose excess weight, and you will have healthier tissues and organs as a bonus.
- Significant amounts of excess weight can be due to retaining water – and water has no calories. Calorie reduction is not the solution in this situation.
- Zero calorie drinks make the problem worse - artificial sweeteners stimulate insulin release, which tells the body to store fat, and they are also known to increase levels of hunger. Beware of any food or drink marked ‘no added sugar’.
- The timing of calorie intake is significant – research into intermittent fasting has shown that eating the same number of calories within a defined time period each day (e.g. 10 hours) results in greater weight loss than eating those same calories spread over a longer time period.
- Calorie counting can result in poor food choices – having a small piece of cake might mean a calorie counter denies themselves a proper meal to ‘make up’ for it. They may also avoid healthy snacks like nuts and avocados because they are high in calories, and instead choose nutrient deficient, heavily processed or ‘lite’ foods which the body has little use for.
- Calorie counting can become obsessive – rather than understanding broad guidelines of eating healthily some dieters become obsessed with calculating the precise calorie content of foods, causing anxiety and feelings of guilt or failure when they don’t meet their target which can result in a vicious circle of comfort eating.
So although science tells us that eating less calories should lead to weight loss, in reality this only works to a certain extent. If you understand the general principles of a healthy diet, then focusing on the precise calorie content of foods becomes unnecessary.
Every person is unique and when it comes to weight loss, there really isn’t a ‘one fits all’ approach. If you need personalised advice, contact a Nutritional therapist for help.
If you want to know more about Nutrition why not try one of The School of Health's Nutrition Courses.