12 Reasons Why Counting Calories Is Lame!

12 Reasons Why Counting Calories Is Lame!

15 August, 2014 0

We all have a family member that stays in so much trouble, that they can tell you more about manipulating the penal code than their lawyer! It makes you want to shake them and say, “You wouldn’t have to worry about obscure laws, if you stayed out of trouble!” Well, that is how I feel about dieters who count calories. You can’t cheat the system. It doesn’t matter which brand of doughnuts has fewer calories if you eat them everyday!

I am the middle child of three. It seems as if my brothers can eat whatever they want and remain skinny.  On the other hand, I can’t even smell their leftovers without packing on at least 5 lbs (Life can be fat, but never fair).  

At the height of my obesity, I remember asking my older brother, Chris, for his advice on shedding the pounds.

Chris is a Harvard MBA – extremely practical and cerebral person.  He turned to me rather nonchalantly and said,

“Simple – Burn More Calories than You Consume…”

Wow! That hurt! I left that conversation thinking: “If it was so simple, why am I still such a fat butt.” Chris is not alone in his assessment. Open any lifestyle magazine and you will find the pages littered with so-called “low-calorie” meal recipes. The first step in most weight-loss programs is to start counting your calories. Now, with the ease that advances in technology bring, there are numerous smartphone apps which enable users to count calories with the push of a few buttons.

Regardless of the method, the goal is always the same – reduce your caloric intake by tracking the number of calories you eat and drink. The science is on the calorie counting advocates’ side.  After all, my brother was right, weight loss is ultimately achieved by burning more calories than you consume.

So it is not surprising that, during the next decade, I endured diet failure after failure trying to count calories.

So what was the problem with counting calories? In a nutshell,

“Counting calories is unnatural, tedious, misleading and a poor measure for healthy eating.”

12 Reasons Why Counting Calories Is Lame!

1. Calories have almost nothing do with health.
Calories are a scientific measurement of heat-energy which has been loosely applied to food.

2. Not all calories are created equal.
Our bodies are complex.  You don’t need to be a nutritionist to know that your body deals with 500 calories of candy differently than 500 calories of broccoli (No fancy studies or citations needed; just common sense).

3. When it comes to portion sizes, counting calories can be misleading.
A small item high in sugar or fat may have more calories than a larger piece of lean meat and salad.

4. Unhealthy food can be manufactured to have low calories.
There are brands of treats which tout the fact that they come in 100 calorie packaging – as if smaller packaging of junk makes it somehow healthier.  First of all, any food with a precise calorie count is highly processed and thus not particularly healthy. Moreover, these items can be packed with salt and sugar to compensate for flavor extracted during processing.

5. Healthy whole foods normally don’t include calorie labels. Most health conscious people prepare meals at home which feature a medley of vegetables and fruit. It is nearly impossible (and a waste of time) to calculate the calorie count of healthy meals.

6. There are too many occasions where counting calories is just plain silly.
When you go to your next family cookout and your cousin Tiny is on the grill, do you think he is going to ask if you want the 450 calorie slab of ribs or the 600 calorie ribs? No! 
As a matter of fact, anytime you eat at someone’s house; counting calories is impossible.

“Ms Georgia, I just love your peach cobbler, but before I have another slice; if you don’t mind me asking, how many calories are in it? Slap!!!

7. Too much room for error.
Even if you were crazy enough to count calories, the accepted margin of error by the FDA is 20% and this error doesn’t take into account the nice girl behind the counter throwing in extra fries. We all know that it is not uncommon for servers to stuff the the bag with extra food – hence extra calories.

8. Calories should be a function of a healthy diet, not the other way around.
Technically, the only way to win a basketball game is to score more points than the other team. But really, is that a strategy for winning? No. Outscoring your opponent is the result of doing all the things that make your team successful; rebounding, defense, accuracy, hustle etc. The same is true for eating.  Follow the
5 Rules and the calories will more than take care of themselves.

9. Counting calories does not improve a poor relationship with food.
Let’s use a simple analogy. We all remember our parents dropping us off at the arcade with something like $10 dollars.  And if your parents were like mine, this money was meant for food, drinks and entertainment!

While you cherished that money, there is no doubt that you spent it all. Right?

Now imagine if later, your favorite uncle gave you another $10 dollars? You would have spent that as well. Simply put, your relationship with money had not changed. You were going to spend all the money that anybody gave you.  The same is true with food.

For people with a poor relationship with food, restricting calories seems punitive and doesn’t address their poor relationship with food.  So like the child, when the dieter encounters their favorite vending machine or visits their favorite restaurant they will invariably accept more calories.

“Hunger is Undefeated against Willpower In the Long Run.

10. Healthy eating should not be an obsessive caloric race against time.
What do you do if by evening you have more time than calories?  I don’t recommend it, but you could take my father’s advice – which was, “Sleep is the last meal of the day.” Looking back, I think he was motivated more by budget than health.

If you are like me and millions of other Americans, you grab some junk food and then go to bed feeling like Homer Simpson. If you are hungry, grab a light snack.  Starving yourself will lead to failure.

11. It’s moronic to expect children to count calories.
Nearly 20% of American children and adolescents are overweight.  If adults, can’t handle the tediousness of counting calories, it is ludicrous to expect children to.

Even the suggestion, may cause emotional and self-esteem damage to the child.  I have overheard girls as young as ten quoting calories to justify skipping meals. This saddens me.

The 5 Rules, however, works for everyone; including children.  Parents should prepare normal portioned meals that include at least two veggies. Cut out the soda and other sugary drinks and get active with them (Actions speak louder than words).

12. Counting the calories of every morsel of food you eat is too dang hard.
If you don’t believe me then try it.

At best counting calories is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.  Notwithstanding, weight loss is predicated on a consistent reduction in food intake and a monumental shift in lifestyle.

Read my pages on 10 oz Meals, Snacks and the 5 Rules for Healthy Living to learn how I managed to gain control of my portions, feel better and improve my relationship with food without counting calories.

Have you discussed this topic? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook Page.


Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and cannot even spell nutritionist or dietitian, which in my opinion makes me overly qualified to share common sense healthy eating tips. However this blog is intended for entertainment and informational purposes only.  Please consult your doctor for specific medical advice.

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