Knowing what you know about your calorie balance system, you can appreciate that claiming ‘calories don’t count’ is utterly ridiculous . – Dr. Lawrence Lamb
No one is safe from weight gain… except maybe those who are counting calories. The nutrition and weight loss industry are full of noise with companies competing for your attention, trying to get you on board with their latest diet, products and ideas.
But the truth is: losing weight can be a simple process that requires no expense; it doesn’t have to cost you any more than your ability to use and apply one simple rule.
What is the rule? It’s simple: track your calorie intake (or at least be more mindful).
In this article, I want to share with you the benefits of counting calories and why this one simple rule could change the way you diet forever.
I will also show you how to determine your calorie intake quickly and easy by using smartphone technology.
But first, I want to clear the air about calorie counting and why people insist on neglecting it or think it doesn’t matter when it comes fat loss.
The Typical Dieters Mindset When It Comes To Calories
Is it possible to lose body fat without counting calories? The short answer would be: yes. But just because something is possible doesn’t mean to say it’s sensible or sustainable.
When it comes to estimating calories to lose weight, people tend to lose interest because they have learned that it requires too much effort.
While that might have been the case 10-years back, today however, it’s a straight forward process.
Unfortunately, most of us tend to follow the laid-back approach of opting for a diet that requires no calorie counting (‘’the less I have to think about it, the better’’).
Unfortunately, the no calorie counting method is like putting gas in a car without a meter: you can only guesstimate how far you will travel, not knowing with certainty if you’ll ever make it to your destination.
If you ask the average dieter what their daily calorie intake is they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Instead, the average dieter will tell you they have no time for calorie counting and are using a method that doesn’t involve numbers.
Here are some typical views regarding calories you might be familiar with:
”Fat loss is not about counting calories, it’s about eating healthy foods that eventually lead to a healthier weight.”
”Nobody needs to count calories if your training your body regular. Your metabolism will increase and naturally burn all the excess calories and keep you lean.”
Here you have two beliefs: One that relies on exercise and another on nutrition. Both of which support the idea that counting calories for weight loss isn’t needed.
In my experience, the only people who do well with no calorie counting diets are those who are morbidly obese. Naturally they lose weight because they are eating less than before.
There are also athletes who train their bodies vigourously and naturally stay slim because they never eat more that what they burn.
Despite these two cases, however, the simple fact is calories matter. We just need to overcome the mindset of ‘’calorie counting is too much effort’’.
We live in a day and age where we have instant access to smartphone technology that, with a touch of a screen, can tell us how many calories we have eaten in a meal.
But in order for you to appreciate the idea of counting calories, I want to explain why calories matter and what complications can occur if you fail to follow the simple rule of tracking them.
The Complications Of Not Tracking Calories For Weight Loss
A typical no calorie counting approach to weight loss usually involves a wide selection of low-calorie foods, and you are told to eat as much as you want while still being able to lose weight in the process.
Typical diets include, The New Atkins Diet, Paleo, Dukan Diet, Alkaline Diet, Slimming World, 5:2 Diet, etc.
While a lot of people will lose weight with the ‘no calorie counting’ approach, rarely are the results long lasting. Again, based on my experience, individuals who praise these diets have either been obese or exercise vigorously.
In other words: they choose a popular diet, get results, and instantly the diet has their unwavering approval.
However, the real issue occurs later on when the weight loss stops and they are wondering why the diet is no longer working.
The reason the diet stops working is because it longer fills the number one rule of fat loss:
- In order for the body to access stored body fat, there must be an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure.
The fundamental fact is that the body will NOT have any need to tap into stored body fat unless the individual is burning more calories than they are taking in. Of course this means that either energy expenditure has to go up, caloric intake has to go down, or both have to occur. – Lyle Mcdonald
Here are some of the downsides people experience when they don’t count their calories for weight loss:
- A Weight loss plateau
- Weight gain
- Fluctuations of weight gain and weight loss (no weight management)
- A loss of lean body mass (compromised muscle tissue)
These setbacks can have diminishing effects on both self-esteem and confidence. Not knowing how many calories you need to achieve your ideal weight means you can never be sure of the results you are going to get.
While people may argue that they have lost weight without counting calories, or knows of someone who has been able to maintain a healthy physique as a result, let’s look at why this might be so.
When A Non-Calorie Controlled Diet Might Work
If anyone has experienced success with the ‘calories don’t count’ method the likelihood is they are either exercising vigorously or unknowingly eating less than what they were before. Or a mix of both.
Unfortunately, the percentage of individuals who achieve lasting success on no calorie tracking diets are very low. Obese and overweight people with long-term bad eating habits tend to do poorly.
Even a non-calorie controlled diet, in some sense, is calorie controlled because here is a physiological ploy taking place that is getting you to eat less.
Consuming a diet of egg whites, low-fat meat, vegetables and fibrous carbs can be challenging -naturally people tend to lose weight.
The intention of a popular diet is to get you eating less without knowing it. So there is a presumption that you will do well, and most people do at the beginning. Either they maintain the new eating habits from a particular diet, or they go back to their old ways.
If you think someone is maintaining a healthy physique without tracking calories, pay attention to their exercise and eating habits. The likelihood is they have a strict approach to eating and exercising. They may even have a borderline eating disorder.
There was a time where I never considered calories but was able to maintain a low body fat percentage. However, I was exercising 6 days a week and naturally eating small meals. When my circumstances changed and I could on longer keep up with he exercise demands, naturally my weight went up
Never the less, a noncaloric controlled diet doesn’t provide us certainty. There is always going to be a possibility of over eating and insidiously gaining weight.
Why Counting Calories Is Crucial For Long-Term Success
Aside from calories allowing you to eat more flexible and enjoy foods you might consider bad for a diet, counting calories is good for your self-esteem.
Think about it: Why would anyone want to live their lives restricting themselves from some amazing foods we have available to us?
I don’t know about you, but I like to eat Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, Pop Tarts, Reese Cups, cookies and cakes from time to time. And despite doing so, I still manage to maintain a weight of 164 pounds (11 st. 11).
Why would anyone want to turn up to a family gathering with a variety of fine foods on offer and restrict themselves to the salad bowl? It would suck. It does suck. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
People may rationalize that they do it for the goodness of their body and soul, but the truth is, those people may have a borderline eating disorder and don’t know the first thing about the importance of calories.
It’s 2016 and nobody has to think about whipping out a notepad and pen, looking at the back of packaged goods to get the calorie information.
By simply downloading Myfitnesspal on your smartphone for free it allows you to track your calories as you go through the day.
If Calories Matter Then Why Doesn’t Every Fitness Guru, Author And Celebrity Health Figure Recommend it?
Calories have lost respect because most health based informants get caught up in biases; they research, produce, and feed the public with information based on preconceived ideas.
In other words, it’s like me telling people that ‘diets don’t work’ just because it doesn’t work for me; and then I research and produce content to back up the idea, completely abstaining from any information that attempts to disapprove it.
Behaviour like this is extensive in the weight loss and health world; everyone has their ideas, and they work hard to defend them, even if they aren’t sensible.
Instead of coming to a balanced perspective and admitting that there is no such thing as a one size fits all, they just keep arguing their ideas.
It gets worse when people follow one person’s ideas who happens to be in the public spotlight at the time. The one with the most sex appeal and speaks with authority will tend to grab our attention, and then we pattern our behaviours and thoughts after them.
So if Kim Kardashian turns around and says ‘’Hey, I lost 10 pounds because I ate foods x, y and z, without counting a single calorie’’, you can be sure people are going to follow her lead.
But will they be successful? Maybe, at first, but not in the long term. But the more she speaks about the topic, generating more publicity, and keeps producing products, people will get trapped in that circle of knowledge and think it’s the only way to lose weight.
I see this happening to people who are stuck in the Weight Watchers And Slimming World trap. People think it’s the only diet that works. Yet despite years of using their services, never have they achieved their ideal goals.
See my recent post in this here: Weight Watchers And Slimming World: The Ugly Truth Behind Diet Brands
The positive aspects of calorie counting is that it gives you a high level of certainty where you can almost be certain about your results.
Keeping track of your daily intake, measuring food and meeting your requirements, means you don’t have to worry about your goals no going to plan – assuming you follow the rule sensibly.
Tracking calories are easy, simply do a search for Myfitnesspal on your phone and download it for free. It will ask you for some basic details in order to work out your calories and macro goals (macros being: fat, carb and protein intake), and then you’ll be ready to start.
As always, thank you for reading. And be sure to leave a comment below and ask questions related to the post.
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