Want to lose weight? You need to stop counting calories

Counting calories to lose weight totally makes sense. If you create a deficit between the calories you eat versus the calories you burn, then, theoretically, you should be losing weight. It is scientific - that’s how it should work.


How many calories should I eat in a day?

This is one of the most commonly searched for questions when it comes to weight-related queries. This is because counting calories and tracking what you eat works for most people. It's the reason you lose weight on any diet - because you're carefully watching what you eat.

The problem is, however, when you are hungry or when you stop counting calories, it usually backfires big time! And by this I mean not just putting back on the weight, I mean putting on more weight than you’d lost.

Here are three reasons why you may want to consider another way to lose weight.

1. We are not able to calculate the exact calories from food

There are too many parameters to consider, for example where the food comes from, how ripe it is, how it’s been stored, processed, cooked but also digested. There are way too many factors to make our nutrition tables reliable.

2. We don’t know exactly how many calories our body needs

There are many models to help us figure out how much our metabolism would need to survive, but there is no consensus to this day, so how do you know which one is the best?

How do they take into account the intensity of an exercise, or the variability of an exercise session depending on the same individual, or whether you’ve done lots of intense thinking (yes, this burns calories too), or the weather that would require more energy to keep you warm or make you sweat? In my opinion, this is another equation without a solution.

3. Feeding vs nourishing

Not looking at the 'now', let’s pretend that we get it right for the calories in/calories out. In my opinion, the only reason why we should never do a calorie-counting diet is that we get stuck on the wrong numbers. Foods should not be classified by how much energy they could provide, they should be classified by how much good they do to the body first and foremost.

Our body is like a machine; give it the wrong fuel and the machine stops. It’s the same with the human body - if you feed it too few calories and low-nutrient foods, then it won’t work for so long.

Luckily, we should have some reserves to buffer the imbalance, but this explains why some people are constantly hungry when they are on a weight-loss journey, or why they have no energy or get sick constantly in the long term.

And, even if someone was to choose the right foods, how tempting is it to keep eating the same foods because we know exactly how many calories they contain, rather than have a rainbow diet? Counting calories is time-consuming, do you really have time to do this?

We need to provide our bodies with the best nourishing foods possible. A diet made up of wholesome foods so that it wouldn’t need any label. These foods are full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and other nutrients the body flourishes on.

What I found works really well is Intuitive Eating; listening to your body for cues while following a few healthy guidelines. The body will recalibrate itself gradually and you will lose weight while concentrating on what matters - eating healthy food that nourishes your body and pleasures your palate.

I believe that long-term weight-loss - or weight management - can only be successful if this is not seen as a quick fix, but rather a lifestyle change. Learning about good foods and listening to your body might be the key to your weight-loss success.

Let’s do this!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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