A lot of diets have a major focus counting calories. They use this as the main tool for their weight-loss benefits. They want you to track and count all the things you eat so you can mathematically lose weight. This way of losing weight is a borderline myth. The practice of taking in fewer calories than what your body will burn in a day so you will lose weight makes sense in theory but rarely works over the long term. While it is true that over time, if you limit yourself to the number of calories you are consuming, you will lose weight, but is that really something you want to do for the remainder of your life. Plus if you aren’t giving the body exactly what it needs to function, limiting your calories will cause you to be at a greater risk for malnutrition if you are not eating the right foods. If you intake fewer calories over time, your metabolism will begin to slow and your body will just regain the weight anyway and will burn fewer calories because it will have adjusted to running off of fewer calories. Losing weight isn’t as simple as counting calories and consuming less of whatever you want; there are so many factors that contribute to why you have extra weight and why are put on weight in the first place. The main reason why counting calories doesn’t work is because it’s not the quantity of what you consume, but the quality.
It’s like your mom always told you, you are what you eat. If you eat like crap you will look and feel like crap, so put down your calculator. Consider what you are really eating and decide if that is the real reason you aren’t losing weight. If you are eating less calories but are not considering the type of food you are eating, then you are not correcting the true problem. The reason? Not all calories are created equal. For example, your average banana has 100 calories and there are 100-calorie pretzel or cookie bags that you can buy that have the same number of calories but are completely different foods. To start, they are made of completely different things. The cookies are made of unbleached enriched flour, sugar, whole grain wheat flour, canola oil, cocoa, dextrose, corn starch, leavening, added color, salt, and vanillin (artificial flavor).
So, to your body, those cookies are starch, sugar, and fat that will be broken down quickly and purely carbohydrates and sugar; if you don’t burn them off, they will be stored as fat. If your body doesn’t know what to do with the chemicals and can’t eliminate them, they will also be stored as fat. The banana is just … well … a banana. It is one ingredient. In the body. A banana contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and sugar, but the body will process it more slowly than the 100-calorie pack of cookies because the banana can give the body so many more resources than those cookies. You will also burn more calories breaking down that banana and gaining so much more in return. The cookies, while they might have the same amount of calories as the banana, can’t offer the body what the banana can. This is true of almost all the processed foods that claim to have lower calories. Just because it is lower calories or lower in fat does not mean it is healthier. They are synthetic, processed, and full of chemicals are not equal to the banana or any other whole foods.
Foods that are processed and made in a plant are foods that your body can’t recognize as anything but fat, sugar, salt and chemicals. The body won’t be able to do anything with that food but process it as it would carbohydrates and fat. You’ll notice that the foods that are the most ideal for your body are the ones that don’t need a calorie number added to them. They are whole and healthy foods that don’t need to be counted because you know they won’t cause you to gain weight. You are what you eat, so never be fast, cheap, easy, or fake because over time that will cause nothing but harm. The nutrients that you give your body are the supplies your body has to build you. Every cell in your body is made with the nourishment you provide, so it is important always to consider what building blocks you are giving your body. It might not make a difference right away, but over time you will notice your body can not function the way it did before. So be whole, be natural, and full of substance because that is what brings us health. Instead of counting calories try other methods to lose weight.
Instead of tracking your numbers, track what you are eating and how it made you feel after eating it. Write down if it gave you energy or made your mood change. When you track what you are eating and what makes you feel good, it is easier to know what belongs in your diet and what doesn’t. Plus, it makes it easier to examine your food overall and keep you accountable for what you are eating.
When you give yourself a fresh start in the kitchen and get rid of all the unwanted processed foods and fill it with whole all natural substitutes, it makes it easier to keep you on you weight-loss track. You will be less tempted and more focused on what you want to be eating. For more on this subject, check out our article on cleaning out your pantry.
Making time to take care of your stress levels is important to weight loss. Stress can cause us to crave those processed junk foods we are trying to avoid. Instead of stressing yourself out even more with numbers, instead, use that time for a nice hot bath or relaxing yoga class. A massage is also a wonderful way to reduce stress levels and, as a bonus, it also helps to detox the body!
Try practicing mindfulness. When you are more present and focused on what you are eating, it can prevent you from eating the wrong things. Mindful eating is a way to notice how you are feeling when you’re eating. Meditation is a great way to learn mindfulness and practice turning it into how the body is feeling. You might also find that your weight loss is not because of what you’re eating, but how you feel when you eat. For more on mindfulness and meditation, check here!
Counting calories never works in the long run because you aren’t consuming the right foods. The foods that are whole and unprocessed don’t need a calorie count, they give your body more than just a number … they give your body vitamins and minerals. They are the foods that will rest your metabolism and allow you to lose the weight. So, pick whole foods over processed and you’ll never have to count calories again.