Why doesn't calorie counting work for weight loss?

#food #weightloss healthylifestyle mindset nutrition weight willpower

Counting calories as a weight loss strategy does not work and it’s high time we stop believing that nonsense.

I say that with an exasperated breath because I had another conversation with a good friend recently and she described how she was counting calories and using meal replacement bars in order to lose weight.  She was sure it was going to work “this time!”

Ugh is what I thought because I know how her dieting effort will turn out…just give it a little time (typically a few weeks or couple months at most) and the try-n-fail dieting truth will reveal itself again.

Here’s the pattern:  she’ll have some initial success, feel great about herself and her willpower; talk it up with friends and anyone who’ll listen; followed by a dip in enthusiasm when the scale stops moving downward; the cycle will end in a pile of tears, self-blame and F* it hands thrown in the air!  She’ll go back to the old and familiar way of living for a while, until she gets frustrated enough (again) to embark on another dieting attempt.

Sadly, dieters believe the energy balance theory – that is, counting calories and weightloss is nothing more than eat-less-exercise-more.  It’s got to be true right – I mean, doctors, personal trainers and nutritionists advocate this theory.  And yet, it’s actually very harmful advice and I can’t wait to see the day finally come when it’s never uttered again.  Debunked for the crap advice it’s always been and it’s not backed up by science either.

These kinds of diets don’t work.  Any weight loss you do have is temporary 98% of the time AND any changes in your food choices while on your diet is temporary.  Worst of all, diets destroy a person’s ability to listen to their body for the answers they innately hold.

When the diet stops working, which it ALWAYS will when you’re counting calories, following eat-less-exercise-more rules, or worse - using meal-replacement bars/shakes/pre-packaged food/pills type programs, watch how quickly you blame yourself for the failure. 

What if it’s not you?  What if it’s been the bad advice and harmful diet recommendations all along?

The truth, backed by current and long-ago science, about weight gain and weight loss, can easily be found in Dr. Jason Fung’s books “The Obesity Code” along with Dr. Mark Hyman’s books and Dr. Robert Lustig, to name just a few.

If you’re unhappy with your weight or food choices and you wonder why you can’t stick with diets and can’t ever turn them into long-term lifestyle changes – try updating your information.

It will be like replacing your operating system from one that was always doomed for failure with one that can only lead you to lasting success.

If you’re not much of a reader, to wet your whistle, how about start here: watch some of Dr. Fung’s YouTube videos.  Like this one is a must watch, then I’d follow it up by this must watch 20-minute video interview – and they’re free on the internet, so no excuses right?!

My Plea to you: update your food/metabolism knowledge and discard the calorie counting/eat-less-exercise-more garbage you were taught.

And if you already have diabetes or are pre-diabetic, you’ll want to check out Dr. Fung’s other book “The Diabetes Code” to learn how you can reverse your condition and get off the medication or join his newsletter here.

Weight management and your food choices aren’t about willpower or your strength of character.  You are not morally bankrupt because you can’t stick to a calorie counting, points counting and/or eat-less-exercise-more diet.

Nope, it’s much more simple than that:  the kinds of diets we were taught to believe control our hunger, willpower and weight don’t work!  Quick fixes are always temporary in results; never leading to lasting, long-term healthy change.  Hint: if you were to see 98% of those who pose for before-and-after pics just 1-3 years later, they’ll have regained most if not all of their weight.  It’s why dieting has become an $80 Billion industry – the revolving door effect.

Instead, weight management and changing your food choices must be rooted in how our bodies actually operate.  When we have excess weight we want to shed and/or eating habits that we don’t like, know this:  it’s because of a metabolic hormonal imbalance (primarily the hormones insulin, and others like cortisol, growth hormone, ghrelin, leptin, etc.).

It isn’t a caloric imbalance (how much you eat vs. how much you exercise).

Our bodies aren’t calculators and don’t care about the caloric value printed on a package of food.  The only thing our body cares about is the type of food (especially highly processed vs. real/scratch ingredients), metabolically how it is digested and the corresponding hormonal chain reaction it creates, and whether it’s used for fuel or converted into fat storage.  Period.  End of story.

After my most recent conversation with my friend, it’s my genuine hope that in the next 15-20 years (which honestly is idealistic), the medical and exercise communities stop recommending low-cal/low-fat diets (eat less/exercise more) and stop telling people to count calories.  Please oh please will they begin to educate themselves, their patients, and clients on the science of metabolic hormonal balance so readily available in the evidence detailed in Dr. Fung, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Lustig’s work; as well as the groundbreaking work done by Gary Taubes.

I’m not suggesting that changing what we eat and when we eat are easy lifestyle changes – it’s not.  It takes a lot of effort, trial and error, mindset shifts, willingness to unlearn and learn, and most of all patience while you struggle to create a new normal in your relationships with food, weight, body image and fitness.  But at least, with updated information rooted in the metabolic hormonal balance science, people will have a fighting chance for true, lasting change.  

We have a choice which pathway we’ll take with every purchase we make, where we get our information from/who we follow, and with every bite of food we take.  It’s as much about becoming willing to explore, experiment and change our mindset as it is about changing our daily habits with food and physical movement.

The first step is becoming willing to learn new information. 

The second step is applying what you’ve learn in incremental ways.

I hope you’ll take that first step today and check out some or all of the hyperlinks I’ve included in today’s communication.

And if you find yourself struggling to apply what you’re learning, reach out to me for private, customized health coaching.  I’d love to help you get where you’re trying to go and accelerate your success.  To schedule a coaching session with me, click here.

Additional RESOURCES

Dr. Jason Fung’s “The Obesity Code

Gary Taubes author of books “Why We Get Fat” and “Good Calories, Bad Calories

Dr. Mark Hyman podcast The Doctor’s Farmacy and book “Food | What the Heck Should I Eat?

Dr. Robert Lustig’s book “Fat Chance | Beating the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity and disease

 

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