I’m 25 pounds overweight and I’m going to finally try to lose it. In the past I’ve tried every diet – Zone, South Beach, Atkins and I did fairly well on Weight Watchers.
My question is about calories and whether or not I should count them? I find it really difficult to track my calories or count ‘points’ and it makes me obsess over what I’ve eaten or am going to eat. And so far I haven’t been successful at keeping the weight off.
I read your Ask The Experts with Heather Frey and she says she doesn’t count calories but just eats clean? She says when your diet is good counting calories isn’t necessary. So should I try this? Will I get fat?
I really want to get on a plan that works and finally take control of my weight.
Hey Lilly. How are you? This is a terrific question. There are definitely those that believe in counting calories and those that don’t .The truth is both can work for you so let me explain.
First, I don’t count calories, although I did for years when I was younger. In fact I have binders of notes on my daily food intake including a daily breakdown for carbs, fats and protein. It was A LOT of work and I was truly obsessed. Nowadays I can merely look at food and guess quite accurately how many calories it contains, it’s become intuitive for me. But what Heather is talking about is quite different.
If you think about how our bodies are designed and have evolved, our ancestors were not counting calories. They simply ate when food was available and / or when they were hungry. And I can guarantee you that they weren’t fat either. I’m always looking to nature for both exercise and nutrition cues and I think in this case we can learn a lot. My feeling is that calorie counting is needed if you subscribe to a modern diet that contains white products such as flour, rice, breads and the like or if you eat any type of processed foods from a can or box. In this case I think calorie counting is imperative, as processed foods and white products are the reason we’re a nation of overweight people. The sugar is generally too high, there’s little to no fiber, lots of laboratory made tastes and colors and overall they are condensed – meaning for a little bit of food you’re getting a lot of calories.
Now if you think about a whole food diet like the Paleo plan (I’m a fan), there are no potatoes, no rice, very little starch and sugar and absolutely nothing processed. The truth is calories in don’t equal calories out. In other words we used to think that calories were the only factor to consider when trying to lose weight but we now know that’s not true. Each food has a metabolic and hormonal effect on the body – some good and some bad. So to say that 100 calories of chocolate chip cookies is the same as 100 calories of broccoli is just wrong. One provides almost no nutrition while the other has fiber, nutrients and will make your body work hard to digest it. So you can see that merely calorie counting isn’t a great idea in this case. What’s truly important is what you eat, not how much you eat.
When you eat a whole food diet it’s nearly impossible to overeat. Sure foods like avocado, nuts and seeds are high in calories, but really how much are you going to eat of these? I don’t imagine many people sitting down and eating platefuls of these foods. On a whole food diet like Heather mentions, you’ll feel fuller-longer and in most cases will be eating bulkier foods – foods that are generally less calorie dense (vegetables, fruit) so again the feeling of being full will set in faster. So in this instance calorie counting is not needed as you’ll simply eat when you’re hungry or every few hours. It’s really a very simple plan that works and it does away with adding numbers up at each meal. If you simply aim to eat a lean protein source, vegetables and healthy fat (nuts, seeds, oils, avocado etc.) with the occasional fruit added in you’ll be golden. With this type of plan your natural feelings of being satisfied will kick in and I’d be surprised if you over-ate. If you look at most people who eat this way, and I mean TRULY eat this way not some of the time, you’ll notice that they are all of normal weight and in many cases very lean. In short, it’s how our bodies were designed that makes this plan work so well.
So Lilly, if you can give up white, processed high calorie foods and switch to a mostly whole, natural food diet, I bet you’ll lose the weight you want. Your blood sugar and insulin will constantly be low (great for fat burning), you’ll have better and more sustained energy and more importantly, you’ll be healthier because you won’t be ingesting all of the junk that comes with processed foods.
Look at it this way – nobody ever got fat eating vegetables, lean meats, fruits and nuts. In fact I’ve gone on record saying that this type of plan is a cure for obesity and would do away with the myriad of health problems we see in this country.
So give it a try and let me know how you do.
Related Posts –
And if you have a question – please just click here. I’d love to help you!
All information contained within this site, Angry Trainer Fitness.com, is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. No action should be taken solely on the contents of this website. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or on any opinions expressed within this website. Please see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.