According to Roy Morgan Research, 22% of Australians say “I always think of the number of calories in the food I’m eating.” That’s over one-fifth of the population!
The data makes it clear that people want to be conscientious of what they’re consuming, but many experts argue that calorie counting isn’t an effective way to take control of nutrition.
At Activated Nutrients, we believe that a long-term, holistic approach to wellness is the best path to health. We focus on achieving vitality through wholefood nutrition and, of course, movement. We understand why, at face value, counting calories may seem like an effective strategy for weight loss; but please read on for a few reasons why calorie-counting is inferior to a long-term lifestyle approach.
When you’re counting calories, you’re essentially thinking about food and the numbers behind it constantly. While it’s great to be knowledgeable about what you’re putting into your body, counting calories sometimes becomes an obsession. As the focus on calorie-counting intensifies, what began as a conscientious lifestyle practice may become stressful; and, as you probably know, stress hormones are known to complicate weight loss. Researchers at University College London found that “people who suffer long-term stress may also be more prone to obesity.”
Counting calories is usually associated with “dieting.” And dieting, by definition, is a special way of eating; meaning it’s not a long-term lifestyle approach. People that try to lose weight by counting calories may see some weight loss as a result, but it’s almost inevitable that the weight will return when they return to their “normal” way of eating.
Part of living a sustainable healthy lifestyle is listening to your body. As you train yourself to pay attention to what your body needs, you’ll begin to make food choices intuitively. There’s nothing intuitive about counting calories; the figures don’t take your body’s needs or any other nutritional aspect of the food into account.
As you educate yourself about food, you’ll start to become aware of the macronutrients (e.g. protein, fat, carbohydrates) you generally consume. Focusing purely on the calorie count may actually get in the way of thinking about and understanding the nutritional value of food more analytically. According to Jonathon Bailor, author of The Calorie Myth, “Your body doesn’t treat all calories the same way. High-quality calories come from foods that are rich in nutrients, like broccoli, leafy greens, avocados, nuts, chicken, eggs, and grass-fed beef. They fill you up quickly and keep you full for a long time.”