22 Apr Why Are You Still Counting Calories?
Are you sick of trying to track your calories in everything that you eat? No worries, you don’t have to! Focusing on just calories is only going to cause you more mental exhaustion and annoyance. NOT optimal health. I bet you are relieved because I know a lot of my clients that were relieved when I told them that they could delete that calorie tracker app on their phone. From measuring out every food you eat to stay in your calorie count for the day, trying to remember to write it all down, trying to figure out what you can eat to fit into your calories, just thinking about counting calories gives me a headache. A study done in the Psychosomatic Medicine Journal showed that all 3 groups ate the same amount of calories, but the group that had to count calories had elevated cortisol levels, which can actually cause cravings & cause you to eat more.
Counting calories has been around for YEARS. Companies even made counting calories into a huge business and made calories into points, like Weight Watchers. (Which still advocates on eating some seriously processed foods.) For weight loss, it’s the idea of eating less and burning up more calories -with exercise. Calories is a number from food that shows how much energy the food provides for us. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. Protein has 4 calories per gram. Fat has 9 calories per gram. Alright, you are probably thinking….BORING. Because it is! We aren’t meant to eat food to track calories. Our ancestors didn’t write down all the calories from the food they were eating. They were just simply eating and enjoying the amazing food the Earth provides for us. Calories can be a useful tool for serious athletes, but for the normal average person, especially if they are trying to lose weight. It’s totally not necessary.
When we restrict calories, we are RESTRICTING NUTRITION. Our bodies need the fuel and nutrients to give energy and vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to make our body run optimally. When we restrict these calories, we are denying our body nutrients to make us thrive. Calories ARE NOT EQUAL. One calorie of a cake doesn’t equal one calorie of a blueberry. Food is SO much more than calories. We should NOT be focusing on calories for optimal health.
A study done in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism studied women in two groups, a high fat (low carb) & a fat-free diet. Women in the higher fat diet actually lost MORE weight. Wait, aren’t fats the most caloric-dense? Women ate more calories & lost weight! Yes!! These essential fats are needed for us for optimal health and feeling full after we ate. When our bodies are hungry, it’s letting us know it needs fuel and nutrients. When we eat REAL food, our bodies feel that full feeling and we are satisfied. It is when we eat ‘frankenfoods’ that we are constantly hungry, cells are malnourished, and we eat more because our body isn’t getting the nutrition from the frankenfoods. The focus on losing weight and having optimal health should be from the quality and kinds of foods, not the quantity. Our quantity will naturally balance when we are eating the right foods.
You know what else can happen if you severely restrict calories to a low level? Your hormones become unbalanced, our body becomes confused, and your body can actually go into fat storage mode because it’s thinking, “I don’t know when I’m eating next or how much! Let me store this in case a ‘famine’ is on its way.” This was a great mechanism to have in the ancestral days because famine was much more common than it is now.
Guys, I promise this isn’t hard. Just EAT. REAL. FOOD. Simple, sweet, to the point. Don’t overthink it. Listen to your body. Eat when you need to. Support your body, hormones, cells with real food.