Most people who count calories for weight loss or weight management assume it’s an exact science. We are here to tell you it’s not.
Make no mistake, the principles of energy balance work:
- Take in more calories/energy than you expend, you gain weight.
- Take in fewer calories/energy than you expend, you lose weight.
However, counting calories as a way to try to know, and control, your energy intake is fundamentally — sometimes hopelessly — flawed.
We see food as far more than just the energy you need to fuel your body to be alive. We see food as a means to bring us together, it should be enjoyed and savoured.
“Food is a language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us, when we don’t know what to say, when there are no words to say.” – Shauna Neiguist
However, we do still need to manage just HOW much we eat, because there is always too much of a good thing of course.
Read our blog post below to discover more and understand how it is possible to still make progress towards your goals without calorie counting!
Why we don’t count calories….
First and foremost in our experience, counting calories makes most people feel deprived and restricted.
You focus on what you think you can’t do or have, rather than on nourishment, adding value, and improving food quality.
And as soon as your monkey brain thinks it’s getting deprived, it’ll want to do exactly the opposite — “rebel”, “be bad”, and “break the rules”.
Counting calories doesn’t tell you about food quality.
You see calorie math won’t tell you whether the food you’re eating is adding value to your body. You can get 2,000 calories from healthy, nutrient-rich meals spread over a day. Or you can get it from a large Frappuccino and a couple of pastries. (Which do you think if the better choice?)
Counting calories is inaccurate.
Calorie counts on food package labels are often wrong.
And “calories” are just a measure of energy. They don’t account, for instance, for the way our bodies digest, absorb, and use this energy.
500 calories from a block of wood isn’t the same to our bodies as 500 calories from a stick of butter. (Leave the wood for the weight-conscious wood louse )
Researchers estimate that even meticulous calorie counting can be up to 25% off. That means if you try to eat 2,000 calories, even if you do it “perfectly” you could be eating anywhere between 1,500 and 2,500 calories.
(And who counts calories “perfectly” anyway?)
Counting calories is a pain in the butt.
Unless you’ve got a food scale and meticulously weigh and track every morsel of food that goes into your body, you have no real idea how many calories you’re actually consuming.
What exactly is a “medium-sized” apple, anyway? What’s a “large serving” of sweet potato? Do the bulk rolled oats you bought from Whole Foods contain the same amount of calories as the rolled oats from your local grocery store?
Really, you’re just guessing, which kinda defeats the whole purpose of counting calories.
Our take? Just eat the freaking apple and forget the details.
Counting calories doesn’t focus on building habits.
Most people reading this will just be focused on wanting to get in shape, feel good, and stay that way for life. Am I right?
Well we are here to tell you that a strong, lean, healthy, energised body doesn’t come from doing math.
That fit, healthy body and lifestyle come from showing up and doing what matters, over and over. Doing the common, uncommonly well.
You can get the body you want without ever being that meticulous. We don’t count calories and neither should you.
Awareness beats calorie counting
Becoming aware of what food you’re eating is the key to long term success. Understanding why you’re eating it. When you’re eating it. How you’re eating it. And how that food fuels your performance.
Learning to be aware of what you’re thinking, doing, and feeling instead of relying on numbers and calculations.
If you’re aware, you’re in control. Because you always carry your awareness with you. You probably don’t carry a food scale and calorie list.
(And if you could, would you want to?)
Awareness is the only true way to get healthy and fit for life. Becoming aware of patterns, habits, and triggers. Aware of what’s around you.
Calorie-counting as “calibration”
However, there is one way that calorie-counting can sometimes be useful: for calibration of your awareness.
For instance, let’s say you record your calorie intake for the day. And then you test that intake against your own awareness.
- If you ate too much for your goals and what your body needs… were you aware of it?
- If you ate too little for your goals and what your body needs… were you aware of it?
- If you nailed “just right”, how did that feel? What physical cues told you that you got it?
Notice what changes you could make based on the data, and what body cues you might need to tune into.
- What does a “too-big” meal look like? Feel like?
- What does a “too-little” meal look like? Feel like?
- What does a “just-right” meal look like? Feel like?
Then a few days later, try calibrating your awareness against objective measurement again, and see what you discover.
The calorie counting antidote
The nutrition coaching programmes we offer here at Glevum gauge food portions differently. No carrying around weigh-scales and measuring cups.
No calculators or smart phones.
All you need is the ability to count to two. And your own hand.
Here how it works:
- Your palm determines your protein portions.
- Your fist determines your veggie portions.
- Your cupped hand determines your carb portions.
- Your thumb determines your fat portions.
We have now had hundred of clients who have used this EXACT approach and seen AMAZING and life changing results, not only in how they look but how they feel about food, and the stresses that go with it.
We not only want you to not only look, feel, and BE amazing – we want it to be easy and enjoyable too.
Because we know from experience, that if it isn’t, your results won’t be hanging around for long.