Yes, Counting Calories is Deceptive. But Here's Why You Should Still do It

I'm not a calorie counting hater. I subscribe wholeheartedly to the fact that people who struggle with their weight underestimate their calorie intake by 40% compared to those of normal weight. But calorie counting is flawed. There I said it. 

A Calorie is a Calorie, or is It?

Science says if you consume calories at a lower rate than your body burns them, you'll lose weight. Trouble is, it's not that straightforward. Take calories for example.

300 calories of refined carbohydrates might be equivalent to 300 calories of lean protein on paper, but your body's chemistry paints a different picture. Why? Eat 300 calories of refined carbs and I guarantee it will leave you far less full than 300 calories of fat and protein. If you’re always hungry because of the types of foods you’re eating, you’re likely to eat more. Diet blown.

We Are Not Clones

My body's chemistry is different than yours. Case and point: my husband can make a half-hearted attempt at an exercise routine, eliminate beer midweek and drop 5lbs. Me? I faithfully work out four times a week, watch what I eat, and stay pretty much the same. The lesson? First of all, guys are annoying ( I love you Babe, I really do). Second, people gain weight at different rates despite equivalent degrees of caloric restrictions.

Check out this study. Researchers overfed sixteen men and women by 1,000 calories a day for eight weeks straight. If you rely solely on the math, the participants should've gained 16 pounds. Nope. The average weight gain was just over 10 pounds, and one guy (I'm pretty sure it was my husband) only gained three. 

The takeaway? Calorie counting provides a great structure for weight loss but individual chemistry must be factored in.

Why Calorie Counting Still Has a Place

Clearly, calorie counting has its flaws but that doesn't negate the benefits of tracking foods. For one thing, calorie counting keeps you accountable. Plugging your foods into a calorie-tracking app makes you self aware, a key component to achieving any health and fitness goal, even if calorie labels aren’t foolproof.

My personal suggestion? Pay attention to how you feel after eating. When I saw the link between headaches and being dehydrated, carbs and food coma, and lean proteins and elevated energy, it became easier to make healthy choices. If I hadn't tracked my foods I would've missed the correlation. 

If you aren’t satisfied with your weight, health, or lifestyle, try tracking and counting your foods for a month. Calorie counting may be just what you need to drop those extra pounds. 

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