• Phil

The Art of Counting Calories

Does counting calories work? Yes. Should you do it? NO.

That makes precious little sense. If something works, why wouldn’t you do it? There are several good reasons NOT to adopt calorie counting as you hunt for the body of a Trojan.

Reasons not to count calories

Good reason #1 – Counting calories isn't a long-term plan

It’s completely unsustainable. In the last 15 years, I have never met a human being who permanently counts their calories. I have met thousands of people who have managed for a few weeks, and in the most stubborn cases, a few months, but I know not one single person who has made it much farther than that - certainly no one who does it full time. There’s a very good scientific reason for this….

COUNTING CALORIES IS A PAIN IN THE ARSE. 300 calories of carbohydrate each day??! How long is that going to last? Counting calories is a technique for achieving a certain look for a specific moment in time (think hyper-tanned men on stage, bedecked in orange budgie-smugglers, getting ogled and scored by other men). Using maths (or as the American’s would say “math”) to calculate din dins isn’t long-term solution, but therein lies the problem: you and your body are in a contract for life. What good is a “system” that you can only endure for a few short months before you fall off the wagon? The wise man develops permanent, long term, habits – and counting calories is not one of them.

Good reason #2 – The same number of calories doesn't mean the same nutritional value

It focuses on numbers, rather than the food. When it comes to food, quality is your number one concern. You should constantly be looking to corner foods that are real, whole, and close to their natural state. When an egg becomes “155 calories,” it ceases to be an egg, and now miraculously equates to any other substance of the same caloric score. Equal calories does not mean equal foods.

Eggs and Twix are not the same, and your body therefore reacts differently to them. i to the e, the latter will invoke a fat storage environment, while the former will provide you with a pelvic thrust of proteiny goodness. Counting calories takes none of this into consideration. It adopts the position that everything is fair game, and as long as you come in beneath that little red calorie line, you’re golden. A glass of Coca Cola has 116 cals and a glass of fruit juice has 140 cals. To be fair, both drinks are a disaster, but there are levels, and I know which one I'd rather post down the esophagus.

Good reason #3 – Eating the right foods means you don't need to calculate each bite

It’s unnecessary. You don’t need to count calories to get in seriously good shape, so don’t bother. If you eat whole, quality foods, with minimal processing, then the quantity of calories ceases to become such a pressing issue. Try getting fat on broccoli, swap the broccoli for MacDonalds and try again. It’s fake and processed foods that lead to overconsumption, when you eat real foods, they are packed with fibre and other satiating shiz that are far more likely to fill you up. I’m not saying portion control isn’t a real “thing,” but I am saying it’s far, far, far (we are talking Sharjah far) more of a thing when you’re eating poorly. Eat well and your stomach will happily tell you when it’s time to step down from the dinner table.

Talking of eating well, please be introduced to Circuit Factory Food Boxes if you need a helping hand with nutrition.

I will leave you with a piece of circumstantial evidence – this alone isn’t enough to send the act of counting calories to the gallows, but I do find it rather interesting. 50 years ago, no one counted calories, and 99% of the population had no problem with their weight. In the past few decades the art of food mathS has flourished, and so too have our waistlines. What was your great grandmother doing that allowed her to eat dinner without the aid of an abacus, and yet maintain her lithe and lissome figure? 

In my humble o, when it comes to counting calories… Don’t.

If your next question is, 'Should I count my macros?' then you can find my thoughts on this here:

What is the Macro Diet?

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