Counting Calories Isn't the Point

Brianna Clark
February, 2016

You Won't Ever Win by Counting Calories

Counting calories has long been thought to be the perfect way to monitor one’s weight. While counting calories can come in handy in certain situations, counting calories alone it isn’t going to propel you to the finish line of your ideal weight. The idea is that in order to lose weight, you have to expend more calories than you consume. Correct, but not an accurate painting of the big picture. Let’s take a closer look at what you should actually draw your attention to when thinking about nutrition.

Calories Are Not All Created Equal

Have you heard of the term “empty calorie”? There are about 100 calories in a fresh banana. There are also 100 calories in a Nabisco Snack Pack. So that means it is ok to have either, right? Of course not! What is in the snack pack? Artificial ingredients and preservatives and a basket full of chemicals. The banana is packed with about 400 mg of potassium and 3 gm of fiber while being all natural and chemical free.

When the body is bombarded with chemicals, toxins and other unrecognizable additives, the digestive system has no idea what to do with it and it sends it away to be stored in your fat cells. This makes you feel bloated, chubby, lethargic, moody and frustrated your “diet” isn’t working. 90+% of people consumed with counting calories are unsuccessful at any sort of sustainable weight loss. It is so important to develop changes in eating behaviors long term and not focus on bouts of dieting. When your digestive system is presented with whole foods that are easy to digest, the vitamins and nutrients are allowed to do their job, your metabolism picks up and you are able to utilize the calories for energy. After all, that is what a calorie is… a measurement of energy. So don’t eat foods that have calories but no nutritional value.

When You Become Consumed With Counting Calories, You Are Missing the Point of Eating

You don’t enjoy eating because you are worried about what your allowance is for the remainder of the day. If you hit 2,000 calories at 3:00 p.m., what are you supposed to do then? The temptation is to deprive yourself for the sake of shedding fat. However, this is a misconception created by the diet industry. You must not skip meals. It is counterproductive and actually makes you store more fat. Are you familiar with Insulin?

Insulin Is the Key to Unlocking a Healthy Metabolism

When you skip meals, your insulin levels drop, causing you to feel worn out and starving. It is likely that at this point of hunger, you will grab whatever is around, often fulfilling a sugar craving. What happens next is a drastic spike in insulin levels as your body over compensates and releases too much of the hormone. This will put you into fat storing mode!

blood sugar chart

So What Is the Smartest, Most Sustainable Way to Nourish Your Body and Shed Fat?

  • Rid your home, office, car, LIFE of prepackaged, processed, fake food. If it is there, you’ll reach for it. It is poisoning your body and preventing your goals from being met and IT WILL MAKE YOU SICK!
  • Include protein in every meal. It will help you feel full faster and fuel your body longer. Adults need about .40 grams per pound of bodyweight per day. Try to make a third of each meal include a healthy protein.
  • Focus on what you put in to your body. Get to know food labels for the ingredients, not the calorie value. Makes foods that don’t have a label, such as spinach and carrots, first priority for your meal planning, When you do buy something packaged, take a close look at the label. My favorite example is yogurt. Grab one and go. Simple, healthy choice, right? Not necessarily.

Check Out Yoplait's Label...

yoplait calorie counting label

Hopefully this first thing you notice is the exorbitant amount of sugar. I would immediately put this down and walk away. It also has gelatin, coloring (some are carcinogenic) and modified corn starch. Side note: while modified corn starch isn’t proven to have detrimental health effects, it’s incredibly processed and incredibly unnecessary.

Let's Take a Look Now At Kirkland's Label...

kirkland greek yogurt calorie counting label

WOW! Look at all that protein! Look at the ingredient list. It is actually real food! Only what really makes up yogurt is there – milk and all the awesome probiotics. It has significantly less sugar and no additives or colors.

To sum it up, counting calories doesn’t really hold too much meaning. I prefer to work with my clients on WHAT they are eating and educating them about choosing WHOLE foods. Sure, portion size is important, but as we know now, calories aren’t equal. Choose the right foods and the pounds will melt off will little effort. Counting calories isn’t the point, it’s about sustainable, educated behavior change over a lifetime.

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