Does Calorie Counting Work? Do This Instead

There is so much confusing and conflicting information out there about how to lose weight. Some say you should eat less and exercise more; others say that calorie counting doesn’t work and that we should focus on other things like reducing stress. What’s the truth? Let’s take a look at some of the facts:

Why Doesn’t Calorie Counting Work?

Regardless of your weight loss goals, spending too much energy and time poring over calories might not work for you. And for those looking for reasons, here are some of them:

You Have No Idea How Many Calories You Need:

To count your calories accurately, especially for weight loss, you should know your basal metabolic rate or how many calories you burn daily to stay alive and keep all your body functions up. Besides, indirect calorimetry is a strategy that most people don’t use. 

This involves lying down and wearing special gloves while hooking yourself up to an expensive piece of equipment for prolonged periods, which measure oxygen intake/excess carbon dioxide. It is vital when counting calories, but most people don’t go for it. 

Although it’s considered the “gold standard” of checking out how many calories you consume daily, indirect calorimetry can still have significant flaws.

Obviously, you can estimate the number of calories you burn or use daily via complex equations and mobile phone apps, but still, it would be an approximation. Despite being the “gold standard,” machines can also go wrong. Thus why allow some mobile apps or equations to tell how much you should be burning or eating?

You Might Not Know How Many Calories You Are Absorbing From Food:

Suppose, by some miracle, you have identified how many calories you need daily for weight loss. That’s great, but now you are not out of the woods, and absorption remains the question.

Talking about estimates and guesses, many people think that 3,500 calories equal one pound. Every time you consume 3,500 additional calories beyond what your body actually needs, you will gain additional weight, and it will be quicker. Now you will understand; not all calories are equal as we expect.

Many things determine the number of calories your body is absorbing from the food that you eat. It’s often hard to know the real number of calories we absorb from our food. A study found that even bacteria in your gut can play a role and may affect how much energy you derive from it.

For example, your body will absorb more calories from cooked meat than it absorbs from raw food items. Due to differences in sizes, one large sweet potato differs in calories from another before you eat it. Absorption of calories by our body is a complex process that’s beyond any calorie-counting app available on the market.

Calorie Counts Are Not Accurate

Even if you know the exact number of calories you need and how many your body is absorbing, you are not yet done. It’s simple and obvious to get caught up in the numbers when you’re trying to lose weight, but that 250-calorie snack might actually have 200 calories or 300. 

The food industry has found ways around regulations before, and it could happen again. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has stated that there is a 20 percent margin of error in the numbers mentioned on those nutrition labels that most people rely on to count calories.

Counting Calories Means Ignoring Your Hunger Cues:

Concentrating entirely on calories instead of the food’s quality can wreak havoc, and you might ignore those hunger cues. You might be eating because of a lack of self-control or hunger. You could also be going over your daily calorie allowance without realizing it and feel hungry, but not eat anything all day long for this reason.

Calorie Counting Brings Misconception:

One of the things that experts at Kitcheniest don’t like about those calorie-counting mobile apps is the impression they provide that people should exercise “back into the green.” Reviewing your “calorie count or allowance” multiple times in a day because you think you can actually burn off the transgressions? This won’t happen, and your body will not burn off food calorie-for-calorie, never.

According to the study conducted in 2014 by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the source from where the calories come from is essential in defining whether your body is lured into storing them or using them for energy or using those to some other mechanism.

Besides, if you regularly overeat, try to burn those in the gym, but you will be exercising for more hours. This will make you hungrier and eventually you will eat more. Indeed it will be a continuous cycle.

Luckily, when you eat or overeat from time to time, your body efficiently manages those additional calories without causing weight gain. However, when you overeat on a regular basis, you can get trapped in the weight-gain cycle.

Instead of Counting Calories, Try This Instead

Always try to buy fresh, whole foods when shopping and think of them as eating food, not calories. Try your best to look at your full diet plan instead of its parts. This means you need to focus on healthy food items such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, raw vegetables, or lean protein. 

Similarly, try to eat mindfully and slowly and eat till you are satisfied. If you consume a healthy and well-balanced diet most of the time, you will see that your body is responding to these balances, and no need to count calories.


Guest Writer

Risa is a Canadian Food writer, Food writer, YouTuber, Food developer, and Food stylist. She writes about food, gadgets, wellness, and ideas to make all your favorite recipes into Low-Fat recipes.

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