Do I Need to Count Calories to Lose Weight?
Lots of well known fitness guru’s (mentioning no names here!) have suggested in recent years that counting calories is ‘bad’ and won’t help you lose weight.
I totally understand that this is a message lots of people want to hear. It’s ‘miserable’ and ‘negative’ to count the calories in every meal right? And going on a diet can make you feel that you’re becoming obsessed with the calorie values of everything that goes in your mouth.
How much nicer to be told that you don’t have to do that – just eat ‘clean’ or ‘green’ or ‘healthy’ - yes?
But what does that actually mean and how does it help you lose weight? Well sadly, it mostly doesn’t help because ultimately there’s only one way to lose weight – and that is to be in a ‘calorie deficit’.
In other words you need to be eating fewer calories than you are burning off. That might not be an ‘on trend’ message – but it is the only one backed up by scientific facts. And the only sure way you can know if you’re in a deficit this to count calories.
Or in the words of Professor Susan Jebb – the governments ‘Obesity Guru’ – “You’ve got to focus on calories. What is it that makes people overweight? It’s calories”
“All of the other things matter – saturated fat, sugar and salt. But if people eat fewer calories, they will probably also get less saturated fat, less sugar and less salt, because they’re eating less food”.
The thing with telling people to eat ‘healthy’ food is it suggests that because it’s ‘healthy’ it’ll help you lose weight. Not true. In fact you could still lose weight by eating ‘unhealthy’ foods – if you eat fewer calories than you burn off.
So you could eat junk food, or chocolate, but if it was under the amount you burn off (which varies according to your size but for a woman is on average 1800 calories a day) you would lose weight.
That would not be healthy of course, but like I say people mix those two things up.
Have a look at this illustration…
Obviously the ideal thing if you want to lose weight, is to be eating healthily AND counting calories. But it is very easy to get the calorie count wrong and find yourself stuck on that old diet plateau.
You can see from these two dinners what a huge difference it makes if you add too much of an ingredient – even if it is ‘healthy’. So in the one on the right there’s half the amount of chicken as the one on the left. But it’s quite difficult to tell by looking – which is why on a diet the surest way of knowing for certain that you’re in that important ‘deficit’ is to weigh your food.
People might think that’s not cool, but they’ll be the ones who are following eating plans with delicious food – but finding at the end of them that they don’t lose any weight.
So good luck if you are wanting to lose weight – let me know how you get on with this old-fashioned, yet cast-iron way of losing it!
Love Casey xxx