The time has come to move on from the out-dated and frankly, unhelpful practice of counting calories. The concept of energy in = energy out may work in a scientific experiment but there are so many complex variables when it comes to how we digest different foods and how each individual metabolises foods, making the simplistic idea of calorie counting as a means to control weight an utter nonsense.
What this method does do, is offer a sense of control – having tangible guidelines for creating boundaries around what and how much to eat provides great comfort to many who feel out of control of their weight and their food cravings, but this framework can only ever work as a short term solution and does not encourage a healthy emotional or physical relationship to food.
We should be eating good foods because good foods are good for us!
Making calories the main criteria for choosing what to eat entirely negates the importance of the nutritional value of a food and what those nutrients do within the body, in preference to the energy it contains, and that is a modern day madness. Counting calories only serves to further distance people from re-learning the natural drives and desires that allow us to eat in an appropriate way according to our bodily needs.
The reality is, reduction of calories as a means to losing weight can only ever work while you are in the phase of food / calorie reduction (and possibly increasing energy output (exercising)). Such a focus actually sabotages your chances of losing weight and keeping it off in the long term. If you decide to restrict your calories for a period of time, you are powerfully training your body to run on less. It’s called the famine effect and any sustained low calorie intake, especially when combined with extra exercise, changes the way in which your body processes what you eat – making storage a priority and down-regulating metabolism so that your body can manage on less! This means you can never go back to eating more calories again. So unless you want to continuously restrict your calorie intake, which of course is not possible, you need to let go of the idea that counting calories is a realistic and useful way to manage your weight – the opposite is the truth.
The quality of the food and the message the food sends to the body, to rev it up or turn it down is the important. This has nothing to do with the quantity of calories as it is the form in which the calories come that determines if they are stored or burned. Different foods trigger entirely different biological responses. You have a fat-storing mode and a fat-burning mode. Depending on the type of foods you eat, you are triggering one or the other.
To find out more, read my upcoming book “Why Eating Less & Exercising More Makes You Fat” coming out on November 10th.