Calorie counting has been around like, forever. Many doctors and nutritionists still recommend the painful act of counting calories to manage and lose weight – but let’s face it, counting is maths and maths is hard!
Apart from it just hurting your brain though, there are several reason that make us think it’s time to put down the calculator:
1. Not All Calories Are Created Equal
Essentially, calorie counting encourages folks to equate low calorie with the word healthy – and therefore making calorie the only factor involved in determining whether something is good for you.
By calorie counting, when looking at food you’ll likely only picture it as a number – regardless of really important considerations about nutritional value – such as sugar content, chemical additions or fats used. You’re less likely to judge the food based on the bigger picture, and you’re not going to think about whether it tastes good or makes you feel better – your decision simply comes down to one number, and the lower the better.
Here’s an example of what this decision making process might look like in real life – you’re at your favourite cafe, and you’ve done the right thing and ordered a salad instead of the fish and chip special of the day. You then go to choose your dressing – you’ve got your bottled Italian at 50 calories, or a simple drizzle of olive oil at 100 calories. Going by the calorie counting method, you would select the former without even stopping to think that it is laced with shitty oils, loaded with sugar, and choc full of chemical preservatives. Olive oil on the other hand has a whoooole lot of amazing health benefits (that’s one for another article) but get’s a bum wrap just because it’s a bit higher in the calorie count. There are a whole lot of foods like this that have been incorrectly marketed as healthy – we wrote a whole other article about it for you to check out!
2. Calorie Counting Can Actually Make You Hungrier…
Leading to eating more, leading to over-eating, leading to doing the reverse of dropping those excess kg’s.
And here’s why – restrictive diets (such as calorie counting) can naturally make a person expect hunger, which will likely make you want to eat more. It’s a psychological battle, and the reason that most people fail when they try to ‘diet’, as opposed to just deciding to make healthy life choices.
In one study, researchers compared restrained dieters with non-restrained individuals using a low calorie and high calorie drink before a meal. While some drinks were labeled correctly, others were mislabelled. Therefore, a drink that may actually be high calorie might be marked as low calorie. Results showed that the dieters felt hungrier after consuming the low-calorie labeled drinks, regardless of whether it was low calorie or not. You see – it’s all in your head 😉
It’s time to let go of the restrictions and fad diets, stop calorie counting, and learn enough to just make healthy choices.
3. MORE Stress….like we needed any more!
Humans aren’t designed to calculate everything that they consume – it legitimately adds psychological stress (Year 12 maths flashbacks – oh God!). Interestingly though, calorie counting can also increase physical stress, so even if you’re a math wizz and your brain loves all those numbers, your body may be betraying you. One study showed that women on a restricted diet with no psychological stress, experienced increased levels of cortisol – the hormone your brain dumps into your body when you’re stressed out!
Cortisol is not your friend – it effects everything from weight management (particularly in that pesky abdomen area), to skin condition, to gut health. So really, we could say that calorie counting is counter-intuitive – you’re counting to lose weight, but you can’t lose weight because counting is making you stressed. The answer – just eat real food!
4. Long Term, it Just Doesn’t Work
There have been alot of studies done on the longer terms results of ‘diets’ – fad or otherwise – and the results are in. We all know the yo-yo dieter – I mean we’ve been watching Oprah Winfrey very publicy struggle with it for over 30 years now. Turns out though that Oprah may be the rule, and not the exception. It seems that those that take on restrictive diets, such as calorie counting, are more likely to not only gain the weight back, but to add a few kilos on top of that each time.
The results are in – fad diets are out, and long term healthy choices are in! Don’t let all of this get you down though – we’ve compiled a simple list of what to do instead – i.e. how to make those healthy choices that we’ve been harping on about
What To Do Instead
- Make Healthy Swaps:
- Crap Oil -> Coconut or quality Olive Oil
- Packaged Foods -> Real Food
- White Potato -> Sweet Potato
- Soft Drink/Fruit Juice -> Water
- Milk Chocolate/Lollies -> 80%+ Dark Chocolate
- Always Read the Ingredients List – if it has added sugar, chemicals, and preservatives, seek out an alternative option.
- Trust in the process – good health and weight doesn’t happen overnight, there is no magic pill or diet, just commitment to stop calorie counting and live your best life!