Why counting calories does NOT work
Not every calorie is created equal.
A calorie is NOT a calorie regardless of where it comes from. Eating 1500 calories of jelly beans will NOT create the same feeling or aesthetics that eating 1500 calories of vegetables, fish and healthy fats would. PERIOD. If you don’t agree with me try living off of 1500 calories of jelly beans for a week and see how you look and feel. 🙂
Not all calories burned come from FAT.
If you burn 500 calories on your run where do you burn them from? Your stored fat? Not always. When we burn calories we burn them from stored glycogen (carbohydrate), body fat, and possibly protein/ muscle. All depends on what state the body is in. So don’t think that just because the treadmill said you burned 500 calories, that you just burned 500 calories of body fat.
How many calories are you consuming?
There is no way to determine EXACTLY how many calories you are consuming. How many calories are in an apple, a piece of chicken, or a handful of almonds? Well, how big is the apple? How ripe is it? How much of it did you eat? How big was the chicken? How big were the almonds?
Exactly. Unless EVERYTHING that is going into your body is spending time on a food scale, there is no way to count calories with great accuracy. For this reason, most people tend to UNDER estimate their consumption. Their guide says the chicken is 300 calories, but the piece that was actually consumed was more like 380. It’s ok, being off 25-30% won’t effect results…riiight.
How many calories are you burning?
There is no way to determine EXACTLY how many calories you are burning unless you are in a lab. There are many variables that go into your calorie burn, and every person is different. How much do you weigh? What percentage of that weight is fat vs muscle? How intense are you working out? Again, extremely difficult to do with with any real accuracy. Most people tend to OVER estimate their burn.
Cardio equipment that asks you to enter your weight are highly inaccurate, and should only be used as a guide. Meaning, if it says you burned 700 calories one day, and 800 another, you know the ‘800 calorie’ workout was ‘better’. But do NOT take that number as science. Heart rate monitors are more accurate, but they are designed to monitor your heart rate, NOT your calorie burn. It is a nice added feature, but again, use it as a guide and not an exact science.
So, with under estimating consumption and over estimating expenditure, it is no wonder why many of the ‘calorie counters’ I have worked with over the years haven’t been getting the results they desired.
A calorie is not just a calorie
The macronutrient makeup of the calorie (is it a fat, carb,or protein) along with the timing plays a HUGE role in your results. If a calorie is truly just a calorie, then the results should be the same if you ate:
- 1500 calories of butter in 1 sitting
- 1500 calories of gummy bears in 1 sitting
- 1500 calories of fish, veggies, and oil, split up into 5-6 small meals.
After all…a calorie is just a calorie right? All 3 are equal calories, so the results will be equal right? Hardly…
Each macronutrient behaves differently in the body, so you need to know more than just counting calories.
Along those same lines, most people want to lose FAT when losing weight, not muscle. Putting the body in a fat burning zone is necessary to make this happen. You will not burn fat by just eating less for a few meals or even a few days. The body doesn’t work like that. It takes proper nutrition to put your body in a fat burning zone and keep it there throughout the day. We teach our bodies to efficiently burn stored body fat by eating the right balance of food throughout the day.
So, if you are one of those people that is tracking, counting, and obsessing over every calorie and NOT getting the results you desire, now you have a better idea why. Still not convinced? See the results from others that have stepped away from counting calories and put their bodies in a fat burning zone by clicking.