4 Reasons I Don’t Count Calories Anymore
I used to believe in calories, in counting them. I would be meticulous about my eating habits each and every day.
I used to think that we should have a daily “calories in” recommendation, and any excess should be burned off. It was as simple as keeping within the right limits, and everything would be ok.
I’ve learned a lot in the last few years, especially as I produce articles for this site and have read the guest articles we release. I do a lot of research in my spare time – I love to absorb information about health and fitness, it’s my passion.
So this post is about my thoughts on calories and why I don’t believe in counting them any more.
1. Not All Calories Are Created Equal
A calorie is actually a unit of energy. I won’t go into the specific scientific definition, as it’s not necessary for our understanding of what to eat and how to lead a healthy lifestyle.
We all know about proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Yet there is still a prevailing myth that all calories are equal, when the truth is that they are not the same across these different types of foods. Each of these will affect your metabolic rate, hormones and whether you feel full or not in different ways.
The myth can be damaging as well, as some people won’t pay attention to eating the right amounts of proteins etc in their diet, thinking that only calories are important. It’s incredibly important that you get enough protein in your diet. Evidence in fact shows that people tend to choose mostly high-carbohydrate foods when all they are planning meals based on calorie-counts.
2. Measuring Calories is Extremely Inaccurate
Your resting metabolic rate changes from day to day, and yet it makes up approximately 70% of the calories your body burns. It can change based on the stress you’re under, the amount of time you sleep, if you become ill and a host of other factors that you cannot really control or account for.
It becomes nigh on impossible to measure the amount of energy you burn when you realistically take into account all the myriad factors at play. If you cannot measure accurately the calories you burn, you can’t hope to offset the calories you eat with anything of value.
Not only all this, but people are not good at estimating in the first place. Either you measure every morsel of food with your digital kitchen scales for the rest of your life, or you will be inaccurate in your readings. Most people cannot visualize a 1-cup serving or a 5-ounce piece of meat without machinery.
3. Don’t Trust Food Labels
Do you religiously follow the nutrient labels on your products? You may be following false information.
A lot of the calorie counts and other nutrient information on food labels are actually estimates based on the individual components of the food. It would actually be expensive for these companies to do accurate tests. Your numbers may be off by as much as 20%.
4. Obesity is Not Caused From Eating Too Many Calories
At the end of the day, there are more important things to measure. The reason there is an obesity epidemic today is not because people have suddenly decided to eat too much – it’s because we are eating the wrong things.
A big reason for that is we may not know exactly what goes into the food we feed ourselves and our families. Eating the wrong foods cause hormonal imbalances, problems with insulin and blood sugar, a lack of energy and many other issues. People may also be damaging themselves by following outlandish detox/other diets and doing things incorrectly.
This is why I no longer simply measure my calories. I watch what I eat – I avoid fast food, preservatives, too much sugar and unnatural foods. I make sure I have high protein and fat, and less carbohydrates. I don’t even think about 5-a-day, but I do ensure I eat plenty of vegetables. I don’t eat a great deal of fruit because most fruits are high on the glycemic index, but I do eat a bit. I exercise and I record my results.
What are your thoughts on counting calories? Do you still do it, or have you changed your ways like I did? Keep the discussion going in the comments below.