If you’re planning to lose some weight, keeping an eye on your calorie intake is crucial. However, some people are overly obsessed with counting calories, which is not necessarily a good thing. Read why you shouldn’t just count calories:
In This Article:
- Counting Calories Isn’t Exactly Science
- Listen to Your Body
- The Calorie Amount on Packaging Isn’t Necessarily Accurate
- Calorie Counting Creates Misconceptions
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Count Calories
Counting Calories Isn’t Exactly Science
You have probably heard of the calories in/calories out model, which says that you must burn more calories than you ingest to lose weight. Although this may be true in theory, it is unnecessarily simple in practice.
For starters, the model ignores how the composition of such calories influences the body, including blood sugar, insulin, metabolism, appetite hormones, and potential cravings.
According to Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist, though calories matter, the amount you consume/burn is affected long-term by the types of food you eat. The human body is a complex machine, which has different reactions and interactions with different foods. Additionally, different people tend to react differently.
For instance, two hard-boiled eggs and two fun-size bags of M&Ms both have 140 calories. While the healthy fat in eggs keeps you full and has nutrients, M&Ms offer no nutritional value and are high in sugar, making you hungry soon after. That’s why it’s sometimes better to count nutritional value rather than to count calories.
Listen to Your Body
You may not know this, but your body has a unique way to communicate with you through cues, signs such as pain, hunger, etc.
If you’re counting calories, you might find yourself leaving out nutrient-dense foods like avocados, tuna, olive oil, walnuts, and chia seeds from your diet simply because they’re higher in calories. Instead, you go for something of lower nutritional value, such as a 100-calorie pack of crackers, simply to keep under your daily calorie limit.
At first, this may seem an optimal choice as you’re able to count calories and stick to that ideal number. However, processed food can cause overeating which is likely to mess up your whole diet plan.
The Calorie Amount on Packaging Isn’t Necessarily Accurate
To count calories precisely and accurately to hit that number can be very difficult if you don’t know how many calories are in the food you’re eating. For example, a seven-inch carrot has about 30 calories, and that’s only the length, there’s even the weight and diameter that you need to take into account to get the correct number of calories.
Therefore, most people take a different approach: to get themselves food or ingredients that have already been packaged as the number of calories has been counted and written on the package. However, that number isn’t always accurate, as studies have shown that the actual calorie content was four percent higher, on average, than labeled.
Calorie Counting Creates Misconceptions
To count calories is all about numbers, so it passively gives you the impression that you are actively in control. While calorie restriction can result in weight loss in the short term, it is not a long-term solution for many people. Researchers observed that after five years, more than 80% of weight lost was recovered in a study of 29 long-term weight loss cases. And that isn’t down to a lack of effort or determination.
Eating fewer calories doesn’t necessarily mean you will lose weight due to this is affected by many other factors, including how much time you spend exercising and how your body reacts to the food.
Also, in some cases, counting calories (or following some other diet plan that needs strict adherence) can lead to a food obsession, which can lead to disordered eating patterns and anxiety and depression.
Keeping track of the number of calories you consume can be a good thing if you can do it right; it will not only get you a slimmer, stronger, healthier body but also improve your mood. However, that’s not always the case, that’s why you shouldn’t count calories if it’s going to cause you more harm than good.
Have you ever tried to count the calories you consume per meal? Let us know how you feel about it in the comments below!