Why Counting Calories Won’t Get You Skinny
September 11th, 2012 by Ingrid Macher
When you read the title of this blog, I bet you were pretty confused.
I mean… all the advice out there tells us we need to be keeping track of our calories. We’re told that if we eat too many calories, we’re going to get fat.
And yes, this is true.
If you eat too much, you’re going to put on weight.
Nothing shocking there.
So we figure cutting back on those calories would allow us to lose fat, right?
Well, it does… at least temporarily.
But here’s where the problem comes in…
You start cutting your portions and seeing some success. Those pounds start falling off.
And by now, you’re thinking to yourself…
“Hey, this is great! It’s really working. If I can lose weight by eating this amount of calories, then if I lower my calories more, I’ll lose weight even faster!”
It makes sense, right?
But if you’ve tried it, you know that it never really works out that way.
You know that when you just focus on how many calories you’re eating… your weight loss
efforts move along for a little bit…
But then come to a screeching stop.
You hit a plateau and all of a sudden, you can’t get the scale to budge. No matter how hard you try, it’s like that stubborn fat is super-glued to your butt and tummy. You can’t get rid of it!
And you don’t understand why.
You’re eating low calorie foods. You might even be buying foods labeled “fat-free” to save some extra calories. Yet, you aren’t seeing any more results.
Well, I’m about to tell you why that happens.
The human body is an amazing thing. And as smart as we think we are, it isn’t easy for us to trick our bodies. Our bodies are too smart for that.
Every second of every day, there are hundreds of complex processes going on inside us. Things we don’t even think about… but these things are needed to keep us alive. And these processes (like our breathing, our heart beat, etc) all require energy to work. Energy that our body gets from the food we eat… from the calories we consume.
So when we cut back on those calories and stop giving our body the energy it needs, it has to make adjustments. It can’t just shutdown our breathing or stop our heart from beating. Keeping us alive is its #1 priority.
So what does it do now that it doesn’t have the energy it needs?
It slows down our metabolism. It shuts down our fat burning ability. It clings to every calorie we give it for dear life.
And the weight loss stops.
Even though we’re eating less calories… we’re also burning less calories. And we find it much harder to lose fat.
That’s why starving yourself will never get you the body of your dreams. It’s literally weakening your body… depleting it… slowing it down…and causing you to both look and feel malnourished.
You need a certain amount of calories to function. Going below that amount won’t do you any good.
So it isn’t the amount of calories that’s the problem.
See, what you need to know is… when it comes to losing fat…
All calories aren’t created equal.
Here’s an example to prove my point. Let’s say you’re supposed to be eating 1200 calories per day. This is the amount you’ve determined would allow you to lose fat consistently without starving yourself…
Well, if you got these calories from eating 300 grams of sugar per day… do you honestly think you’re going to look and feel good?
Of course not!
Even though you’re cutting back on calories, you’re not giving your body any of the nutrients it needs to run efficiently. And if it can’t even run efficiently, how do you expect it to burn fat?
So while it’s great to keep track of what you eat… to keep track of how many calories we’re eating so we can make adjustments…
That alone isn’t enough to bring us to our goals.
Our real focus should be on what foods we’re eating to get to those calories!
1500 calories from bread and sugar isn’t the same as 1500 calories from chicken, brown rice and steamed vegetables.
So we need to stop obsessing over the labels…
Using food that we see as “low-calorie” as an excuse to eat things we know we shouldn’t be eating.
We need to stop looking for some magical number of calories… thinking it’s going to automatically bring us to our goals.
Just make healthy food choices, and let the calories fall where they may.
As long as you’re sticking to good whole foods like lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables…
And eating them in sensible portions…
You’re going to naturally fall into a healthy caloric range anyway.
And since these foods are natural… and packed with vital nutrients…
That will take you much further than eating a half-box of “fat-free” snack foods where you can’t even pronounce half of the ingredients on the box.
In fact, that’s a good rule to follow. If a seven year old can’t read the ingredients on the food label, that means it’s probably best you avoid that food, since it’s full of artificial ingredients.
And as far as your body adapting and slowing down your metabolism…
That’s going to happen whenever you try to lose weight. Even if you do it the healthy way, your body is still going to adapt to the changes. It’s still going to try to find balance and find a weight it can settle on…
So to keep losing weight consistently…
We need to shock our bodies!
And that’s why one day per week, we’re going to have a cheat meal!
A meal where we don’t worry about the portion size… where we don’t worry about what it is we’re eating…
And instead just eat whatever we want!
One meal per week, we can enjoy foods that we would normally feel guilty about, knowing that it’s going to shock our body and keep our metabolism from slowing down.
So even though we’re “cheating”… we’re actually helping our bodies burn more fat!
But remember, this is once per week! Don’t excuse it as an excuse to cheat whenever you feel like it. If you do it too often, you aren’t boosting your metabolism anymore… you’re just fattening yourself up! But by enjoying one meal a week, you get the best of both worlds…
So there you have it.
Stick to good, nutritious whole foods for 90% of the time…
Then, once per week… have a cheat meal to keep your metabolism pumped up.
When you do those two simple things, you’ll get much greater results than you’ve ever gotten by obsessing over your calories.
So give it a try.
And if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave my a comment in the section below.