Stop Counting Calories if You Want to Lose Weight for Good

person counting calories

For how long have you been dieting? Are you obsessively counting calories in every meal you take, knowing almost by heart how many of them there are in every single snack?

Stop. Now. Here’s why:

1. Numbers Are Probably Wrong Anyway.

person counting calories

You base your caloric needs estimate on your basal metabolic rate (BMR), right? But you probably didn’t know that this is only the number of calories your body burns at rest, and it’s only about 70% of your daily caloric burn. The other 30% are determined by your activity level.

And even if it was 100%, your metabolic rate varies from day to day: apart from your gender, age and body type (which are steady in the equation), your metabolism is also affected by nutrition, stress levels, hormones, amount of sleep… It’s just too many variables at play.

The other numbers that are wrong are the ones you believe are definitely right – on labels. Did you know that labeling laws allow a 20% margin of error? So count your 500 calorie dinner again. 😉

2. Not All Calories Are Created Equal.

Weight loss comes down to “calories in vs calories out”? Not really. Some calories, as it turns out, count more than others: 100 calories in two tablespoons of chocolate chips are very different from 100 calories in broccoli.

For example, when you eat a 160-calorie portion of almonds, you absorb only 130 because fiber delays the absorption of calories, or you will need twice as much energy to metabolize protein as carbohydrate.

The type of food that a calorie comes from dictates how its energy is used. Which brings us to…

3. It’s Really Too Much Math.

Don’t you think that counting calories is stressful?

Yes, in order to reduce weight you do have to make sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean that you should calculate everything that goes into your mouth.

4. It Simply Isn’t a Long-term Solution.

Do you really know someone who has been able to count calories their entire life?

What usually happens is that people count calories for a short amount of time, until they reach their goal weight. Then they stop eating right and stop counting their calories, and you know what happens then? They put on all that weight plus 10 lbs more. Then they repeat.

That’s the famous yo-yo cycle. You see, when you count calories you do it as something you don’t enjoy (rarely anyone does!) and you just can’t wait to stop with it, you have to envision the ending. And once the ending (achieving your goal weight, or a certain number of days to be on diet) comes – you start acting like everything is now solved, you endured what you had to endure and now you’re free to do what you feel like.

And that’s usually eating all the things you couldn’t while you were counting calories, in the quantities that you weren’t allowed before.

That’s just how our mind works. Counting calories can work short term, but then you have to start doing other things to control your weight.

What to Do Instead?

woman eating an apple

Listen to your body!

Always, always eat when you’re hungry, but do it mindfully: put your full attention to the meal in front of you, chew every bite before taking another, savor the flavors, texture, sounds, crunchiness or softness.

Eat what you know is healthy – it’s nearly impossible to eat too many vegetables. Many healthy foods taste good, so eat them all you want. Don’t stress out; some days you will eat more, some days you’ll eat less – but it’ll all balance out. Psychologically, if you let go of focusing on calories you can switch focus to eating healthy, so it won’t really matter how much you’ll eat.

Listen to your body, it has all the answers!

Are you ready to stop counting calories? Come on: 3, 2, 1…