Calorie Counting Part 1

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In this article, Pete looks at the effectiveness of calorie counting from both a scientific and an adherence perspective.

Do Calories Matter?

Do Calories Matter?



Energy in vs energy out.

Weight loss is that simple, right? Yes. And no.

For decades, people searching for weight loss have followed this advice. A simple premise that does work.

However as always there are two sides of the argument to look at.


Calorie Counting Benefits



Calorie counting can help many clients move away from over eating. Over eaters can often binge, with no conscious control, of their food intake or management of overall calories.

So if the math is controlled, then – in theory at least – emotional eating can be more controlled.

If your total energy intake is limited, and you’re taking an interest in increasing your exercise – your “energy out” part of the equation – then weight loss will occur.

And for some personality types, often “Type-A” style personalities, will have no problems counting calories for years.

I’ve even had clients come to me who have counted calories or points for the better part of 30 years.

(HINT: They’re coming to me because counting points hasn’t worked for them long term)

The recent trend of IIFYM has seen more and more gym-goers watching their calories. And yes, tracking your calories can work. I’ve used it myself and with certain clients and it can work for the Type A’s.

But what about the remaining 80% of those who aren’t Type A’s, or who don’t want to be counting calories forever?



Calorie Counting Drawbacks

For many clients, they need to move away from using databases, points, and math when planning their meals.

Although this system works, for most people I’m simply not a fan.

For one, it does nothing to help you tune into your powerful hunger and appetite cues. When you learn to listen to your body and it’s hunger signals, you have a much better chance of long-term success and adherence to a healthy plan.

In my opinion, the client who adheres to the plan the longest will see the greatest permanent results.

Can this take a while? You betcha.

Many people who have dieted for most of their adult life have lost the ability to “listen in” to their hunger cues. However it can be learnt, with some coaching and practice.

It also stops the natural enjoyment of food for a lot of people. Instead of an enjoyable social eating experience, it becomes a numerical, almost robotic exercise.

The other problem that can occur with calorie counting is it’s accuracy. It’s just not all that accurate!

Due to incorrect labeling, errors from the laboratory, and differences in food quality and manufacturing, calories recorded on some food labels and websites  can be off by as much as 25%.



The Bottom Line

Like I’ve said previously, all diets will work. It’s about finding out what works best for you, and then sticking to it for the long term. More often than not, calorie counting falls apart after a short while. Just ask 10 people today if they have ever counted calories, but have now stopped. You won’t have to look too far.