“Here's Why Counting Calories Really Isn't Necessary for Weight Loss" Review

This is a great top 5 list of why counting calories may be a huge waste of time while trying to lose weight (from the MSN article “Here's Why Counting Calories Really Isn't Necessary for Weight Loss”).

1. You likely have no idea how many calories you actually need.


In order to accurately count calories for weight loss, you’d need to know your basal metabolic rate, or how many calories your body burns each day simply to stay alive and keep all your systems running. And unless you’ve done indirect calorimetry, which I can almost guarantee you haven’t—it involves lying with a mask on, hooked up to a very expensive piece of machinery for a prolonged period of time to measure your oxygen intake and carbon dioxide expulsion—you really are playing with arbitrary numbers. Although it’s the “gold standard” of figuring out how many calories you use per day, like anything else, indirect calorimetry can have flaws.

Yes, you can approximate the number of calories you use in a day via equations and apps, but that’s all you get: an approximation. If even the “gold standard” machine can be wrong, then why let some app or equation determine how much you should be eating?

Personal Trainer Wisdom: As I’ve mentioned before, we can’t necessarily rely on the caloric approximations provided by our favorite tech tools. They are what they are-estimated guesses based on typically less-than-personal factors.

2. You don’t know how many calories your body is absorbing from food.


Let’s say that by some miracle, you know exactly how many calories you need to eat per day for weight loss. That’s great, but you’re not out of the woods, thanks to the question of absorption.

We used to think that since 3,500 calories equal a pound, every time you eat 3,500 extra calories beyond what your body needs, you end up gaining that weight. Now we know better: Not all calories are equal like we thought.

Everything from how your food is processed to how much fiber it contains determines how many calories you’re absorbing from it. Even the bacteria in your gut may play a part in how you digest food and how many calories you derive from it.

For example, you’ll absorb more calories from cooked meat versus raw, and peanut butter versus whole peanuts. Due to size differences, one sweet potato varies in calories from another before you even take it off the shelf at the store. Calories absorbed is a complex business that’s light years beyond any calorie-counting app on the market.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Another reminder that not all calories are built the same. Do you really know how your body interacts with the foods that you eat? You most likely never studied the differences and now is the time.

3. Calorie counts on packages aren’t necessarily accurate.


But wait! Even if you know how many calories you need and how many you’re absorbing, you’re not done! In fact, the Food and Drug Administration allows up to 20 percent margin of error in the numbers on those nutrition labels you likely rely on to count many of your calories. Meaning, that 250-calorie snack you’re eating might actually have 200 calories—or 300.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: If you’re calorie counting, you’re most likely living on the edge of too much. I recommend a large buffer zone in case the calorie count on the packages are as inaccurate as this article claims.

4. Counting calories can encourage you to ignore your hunger cues.


Focusing entirely on calories, instead of the quality of the food you’re eating and how you actually feel before chowing down (hungry, bored, stressed, etc.), can wreak havoc on those precious hunger cues you’re born with. Whether you’re eating just because you “have calories left,” even though you’re not truly hungry, or you’re not eating because you’ve “gone over” your calorie allotment for the day, but you’re actually still hungry, you’re doing the same thing: ignoring what your body is trying to tell you.

Trust your body, because it knows what it needs a lot more than some random number or tracker.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Ultimately, your physical cues will determine the type of foods you should eat and how much. The more in tune with your body the more optimal you can operate it.

5. Calorie counting adds to the misconception you can “work off” the food you eat.


One of the things that angers me most about calorie-counting apps is the impression they give that you can exercise yourself “back into the green.” Going over your “calorie allowance” again and again because you think you can burn off the transgressions? Nope. Your body doesn’t burn off food calorie-for-calorie like that.

A 2014 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine emphasized that “it is where the calories come from that is crucial” in determining whether your body is tempted to store them as fat, use them for energy, or apply them to some other mechanism, the study authors explain.

Plus, if you do routinely overindulge then try to work it off in the gym, you’ll be exercising for a very long time, depending on the size of the junky meals you’ve eaten. This, in turn, may cause you to become hungrier…and eat more. Vicious cycle? Definitely.

The good news is that when you only overeat from time to time, your body can handle those extra calories without making you gain weight. It’s when you overeat on a more frequent basis that you can get into weight-gain territory.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: The “calories in vs. out” theory has consistently failed my personal training clients for the last 12 years. Too many factors affect how the calories are consumed and expelled to deliver a convenient formula. Once again, err on the side of caution by choosing the most nutrient dense foods while remaining active every day. It doesn’t get more simple than this.

Photo Credit:
Self.com–Can we really get away without counting calories?

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article "Here's Why Counting Calories Really Isn't Necessary for Weight Loss" on MSN.com (Self).
"Here's Why Counting Calories Really Isn't Necessary for Weight Loss" Review
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