14 Dec Does Counting Your Calories Work?
Does counting your calories work? Instead of giving you some boring science based answer, let me try and answer it with a real life scenario.
Sound Familiar… ?
You are the typical woman that has gotten to a point in her life where you have now decided that you really should do something about your health and wellbeing. You are looking to lose some weight and get in shape but have no idea where to start or how you even got to where you are in the first place.
You haven’t regularly exercised since you played sport in high school, you eat out most days for lunch due to work now taking over your life and you may also have one or two kids who, you love to bits but, do everything they can to make your life a living hell and consume the remaining hours in the day.
All that and your lazy ass husband/partner can’t be bothered to get off the couch and pull themselves away from the football for even 2 minutes to help cook dinner for the family or put that damn toilet seat down after having asked them now for the 1000th time!
So what chance do you have and where will you ever find time to find a way that will help you reach your goals and get you back to the body you once had and have you feeling young and healthy again.
Your best friend Susie, who you have known since you were 3 and is that friend you love but secretly can’t stand as she is a complete know-it-all, comes to you and says she is counting calories and it has helped her lose 10kg in 10 weeks.
You also know that only last week, Susie was saying that Paleo was the key to her weight loss, the week before that it was Gluten free and the week before that it was a juice cleanse, so you can’t really trust her.
Your next logical move is to consult Dr. Google; surely it can’t lead you astray. You decide to type in the words “How to lose weight by Calorie Counting”. After all, Susie is looking great and you know it will give her infinite joy to know she was the one that suggested it to you, should you lose some weight even though she will be a devout vegan by then.
After hitting enter, your computer melts down with the nearly 2.5million website hits. Some say it works and some say it doesn’t, they all use giant words to make the author sound more educated when they probably have no idea what they are talking about and you are still no closer to answering the question you set out to find.
You decide to just randomly click on one of them and you stumble across my article.
Firstly, thank you for clicking on my website!
Secondly, I hope you find value in the critical review piece I have written and I finally help you answer the question you asked and help you on your way to living a Happier, Healthier and Longer Life.
Science and research are obviously very important, however, all too often we place too much emphasis on these when a real world example can tell us so much more.
Let me explain….
This website here lists a number of research papers that show the effects that Green Tea Extract has on weight loss, but ask yourself….
How many people do you see with low body percent fat and ripped abs actually use green tea extract and will say this without being paid by a Green Tea Extract company to help them get those results?
I would bet, not many if any at all!
This is why I think it is so important to look to real world examples of what people are actually doing and look to real life examples of people living in the real world and not in a controlled laboratory situation and have seen results and sustained them over a long period of time.
Let me introduce you to my Mum, Angela who has been a Coaching Client of mine for 30 weeks now.
Angela is the typical example I started talking about in this article and has struggled with her weight for years. In the past 30 weeks, Angela has tracked her calories and her protein levels as well as walking a couple of times a week and performed a few at home body weight exercises.
I think it is fairly clear that counting calories has worked for her, wouldn’t you agree?
I can already here the trolls typing their response to my above statement.
“Adam, you can’t base your argument on just one example, she could have been a fluke.”
Ok then, let me now introduce you to Rhian.
Rhian is a fitness trainer and Zumba instructor and has always been fit and active but came to me around 6months ago and asked me to help her look like Jamie Eason and increase her lean muscle mass.
Just like Angela, Rhian started counting calories, tracking her protein levels and introduced some basic weight training. It’s fair to say that counting calories have certainly helped her attain those rocking abs and defined musculature.
Now just to keep my OCD at bay as well as another example can’t hurt, let me finally introduce you to Sam.
Sam plays football and after a ruptured ACL took him out for the season he came to me to help get him back in shape and ready for the pre-season that awaited him at the end of the year.
In just a short 10 weeks and with the use of counting his calories and a very targeted weight training program Sam was able to get back to and beyond his pre-injury fitness levels and be ready for the season to come as well as sport an amazing physique.
Again, another example of a client using Calorie counting to help them understand what is in their food and use it to help them achieve their body transformation and weight loss goals.
So why then does Calorie counting work and what myths are out there that may have misled you in the past.
Myth Number 1: “Not all Calories are the same”
You have no doubt heard this one before and it is the most common response I get from not only the general public but also from colleagues in my own profession. The most common example they will use is that the calories in a piece of fruit, let’s say strawberries, are much better than the calories in a slice of delicious and smooth Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake.
No one would disagree that the strawberries are far more nutritious for you than the cheesecake. However that very word, “nutritious” is where they are making the mistake and confusing the two terms.
Calories are merely the way in which we quantify how much energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1kg of water by 1 degree. All foods have calories and they are all the same whether they come from a punnet of strawberries or that most amazing and delectable piece of cheesecake.
Nutrition or a nutrient in food is something entirely different and provides the body with nourishment in the form of carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals and vitamins and should not be mistaken for calories.
Or in simpler terms, calories are a unit of energy and nutrients nourish the body.
Now, the punnet of strawberries may only have 80 calories and the slice of drool creating cheesecake may have 500calories however, the only difference in those calories is the total amount and has nothing to do with their makeup.
Myth Number 2: You can eat as much as you like as long as it’s “Clean”
I hear this all the time and again it is an argument that is very narrow sited and really rubs me up the wrong way.
You will have your friend Susie, that has now moved onto only eating Organic, tell you that she can now eat whatever she like because all of her food is organic, grain fed and is passed through the intestines of a rare dung beetle that can only be found in remote mountains of Tibet.
Now, I won’t get into the debate of organic verse nonorganic food as that is a whole other can of worms, but what I do want to say is that “Clean” eating is such a varied term and can mean different things to different people.
I won’t argue with you that eating a diet full of nutrient dense foods that are minimally processed and reducing your processed food intake is a good thing for your health. However, what you define as “clean” eating may be completely different to me and different again to your vegetarian friend Greg.
Just remember this, healthy foods have calories in them as well and they count towards your daily energy intake just as much as the calories coming from that mouth watering piece of cheesecake.
It’s the same as your grade two Math’s teacher trying to trick you with the question, what weighs more, 1kg of Feathers or 1kg of Bricks.
You would have been right in thinking when you were 8 years of age that the 1kg of bricks weighed more than the 1kg of feathers but we grew up and I am sure we can all agree that they weigh exactly the same, it’s just there are a hell of a lot more feathers in that 1kg.
This is exactly the same when we consider “Clean” foods to “Bad” foods.
It takes a lot more strawberries to make up 1000 calories but at the end of the day you are still eating 1000 calories and this counts when tracking what your body needs each day. The fact is that if you want to lose weight you need to eat fewer calories than what your body needs each day.
Myth Number 3: Calorie Labels are Inaccurate
This is probably the most comical of responses I get and I LOVE using the next analogy to very quickly shut down this line of thinking when it is presented to me as a reason to why Calorie Counting doesn’t work.
I am not so naïve that I don’t think the food companies get it wrong or possibly even try and deceive us, and that the labels on the back of your favourite foods might be slightly off, however, to suggest that Calorie Counting doesn’t work because they are incorrect is just ludicrous!
Let me explain…..
The watch that your Great grandfather passed onto you has never really kept great time and your forever having to wind it forward as it drops out by a minute or two each day.
Using the logic above this watch is useless, as it isn’t set to the second of the world standard clock. However, while it may display 12.02 pm when it is actually 12:00 pm it still gives you a general idea of what time it is and will get you to where you need to be.
So even if that label is slightly off you will still begin to understand what portion sizes you should be working with and how much protein, carbohydrates, and fats are in your food and what works for you to reach you to your weight loss goals and as I showed above it has clearly worked for my clients.
I could go on and on with the thousands of other examples the naysayers say to why Calorie counting doesn’t work.
How it is socially restrictive and you can’t eat out and enjoy a meal with friends or how it never works long term, but I hope through this article that you can see that it does work and will help you achieve your goals not only in the short term but also for the rest of your life and see you enjoy a Happier and healthier life along the way.
Learning how to track your calories is the NUMBER 1 skill I believe you need to learn to take control of your weight and begin to live a healthier and longer life. I spent an entire year tracking everything I ate and in turn, have gained a valuable insight into what is in the foods we eat and now maintain a lean physique all year round without tracking my food so meticulously.
It works and you need to put in the time to learn the skill just like learning a new language. It isn’t easy to begin with, it will take you time and you will no doubt get frustrated with the process.
I get that; I really do; however to suggest that it doesn’t work just because you think it is too hard is no excuse to throw in the towel.
Stick with it and be patient and I promise you that in time you will become much more fluent with the process and it will feel much more natural to you.
If your goal is to lose weight then you will need to begin with reducing your calories and the only way you can do this is knowing just how many calories are in your food to begin with.
I hope this article has helped clear some of the confusion around Calorie counting and whether it works to help people lose weight and that you can now begin to track your way to success.
If you need any help with this, my advice and help is always free and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have.
Please leave a comment or email me ([email protected]) and I will get back to you with what I hope is an answer that helps you move forward in your weight loss journey.