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To Count Or Not Count Calories? What To Do For Your Weight Loss Goal

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By Matt Griffith, CSCS

So, it’s a month into 2017 and I’m sure we’re all working hard on those fitness resolutions we set for the new year. But how do you focus on losing weight or gaining muscle? Is calorie counting really the end all, be all, of a good nutrition program? It’s not. A good, balanced nutrition program doesn’t need to focus on calories but on healthy choices and portion control. Here’s five reasons to never count a calorie again.

1)      Calories are not everything. A calorie is just a measure of how much energy a food contains. If you eat to many, you’ll gain weight. But that’s the least important part. It’s the nutrients in the foods that make the difference. If you’re eating a high sugar food, but it’s only 100 calories, is that really a good food choice?

2)      All calories are not created equally. The high-quality calories we need are from nutrient rich foods like leafy greens, avocados, nuts, chicken, eggs, and grass-fed beef. They fill you up and keep you full. These foods also release hormones that tell your body to burn fat because your body works harder to break these foods down. Highly processed foods aren’t going to fill you up, so you’ll overeat and store more fat.

3)      Just because 3,500 calories equal 1 pound doesn’t mean that exactly. Your body runs on biology, not math. Our bodies work hard to keep us in a set weight range with our hormones being released to control our appetite and metabolism. If you eat too much one day your body will burn more calories and lower your appetite to compensate. The big picture here is to not freak out and keep overeating. That will make you gain weight.

4)      You don’t have to cut calories to lose weight. Calorie counting only tackles the symptoms of weight gain. We must go back to the quality of the foods that you eat to see what the underlying problem is. If you continually eat low quality foods that throw your hormones out of whack, you’ll continue to maintain your current weight or even gain.

5)      Restricting yourself to low calories will not make you slim. Counting calories leads to failure almost 95% of the time per a multitude of studies. Starving yourself only makes your body slow your metabolism and burn muscle instead of fat. This goes back to our cave dwelling days when we didn’t know when our next meal came from. We can’t control it, so don’t mess with it.

When you eat healthy foods, you don’t have to count calories. Feed your body what it needs, it’ll take care of the rest, including keeping you at a healthy weight. Relax about counting calories and focus on quality over quantity. High quality foods include non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, mushrooms), nutrient-dense proteins (seafood, low-fat plain Greek yogurt), and whole-food fats (avocado and flax seeds). One thing they all have in common? You don’t need a nutrition label to tell you they’re healthy.

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