Albert Einstein put it eloquently, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. This quote relates to counting calories as many people try and use this method over and over again in order to lose weight. The chances are if it didn’t work the first or second time, then it definitely isn’t working the 3rd or 4th… So we must stop using a failed strategy and can do this by educating ourselves on exactly why it doesn’t work.
That is what we will be doing throughout this article, going through 7 of the top reasons thoroughly. It will indeed be a big stepping-stone in you putting an end to Band-Aid solution, and freeing yourself from the stress that comes along with it.
- #1 It makes you hungrier
- #2 It keeps you focused so much on calorie amount that you end up eating more processed foods
- #3 It stresses you out
- #4 More calories do not equal more weight gain
- #5 It prevents you from getting to the bottom line of why you are overeating
- #6 Resting metabolic rate varies day to day
- #7 It is not sustainable
#1 It makes you hungrier
If you are making a deliberate attempt to consume fewer calories than your body needs, it will react to this by the getting energy it needs from forcing itself to use up fat stores instead. This is what happens when starvation is occurring, but obviously, it is a mild form of that.
Since it is natural to feel hunger, you shouldn’t fight this feeling. However studies have also shown that when we expect to feel hungry, we then will, so the brain plays a part in this as well. For example, researchers conducted an experiment where they tested non-restrained normal weight women and women who were dieting, by giving them either a low calorie or high-calorie drink before a meal.
Some of the drinks were labeled correctly, but others were not and therefore some women thought they were drinking a high-calorie product when they weren’t, and vice versa. The results showed that the dieters (restrained eaters) felt hungrier after they consumed a drink that was labeled low calorie, even if it was high calorie. The nonrestrictive women did not respond this way. These results speak volumes and clearly explain why we should not be counting calories.
#2 It keeps you focused so much on calorie amount that you end up eating more processed foods
The “health halo effect” occurs quite commonly with people who count calories. It generally means that you are missing out on the bigger picture and tend to start seeing healthy and low calorie as if they were the only aspects of food. Completing disregarding the fact that the calories in food are created differently and don’t get metabolized in the same way. You could have very well done this in the past without realizing it.
The Telegraph reports that in a study it found a low-fat meal, and on further investigating they found that it contained 6 times the amount of sugar as the full-fat version. This is not surprising as it’s been a known fact for a long time that when food companies remove fat from their products, then inject them with a lot of sugar or sugar-like substance so that they taste good. Which is not beneficial for our health. In fact, it is damaging and has long-term consequences. Remember people that good fats exist and our body NEEDS them. You can find them in nuts, olives and seeds.
#3 It stresses you out
One thing we now know for sure is that stress is linked to weight gain. There are a lot of studies out there to prove this but do we really honestly need those? Not many people in this day and age have not reached for that high carb junk food when they were feeling down or just plain stressed. The reasons this type of stress is brought on can vary.
A lot of the time people who count calories will feel stressed because they ate more than the number they allowed themselves that day. As a result, they went on to beat themselves up about it, and later on, in the evening would most likely eat even more food because they felt like a failure. God knows I’ve been there…and it isn’t fun.
#4 More calories do not equal more weight gain
Since a calorie is NOT a calorie, they are not all created the same, and thus the body uses them differently. This also means that some calories are bad for you and some are good for you, and some will lead to weight gain and some will lead to you being healthier and sustaining a good weight.
This was proved in a study that compared 3 popular diets. They were the low carb, low fat and low glycemic. The result was that the people on the low carb diet burned 350 more calories a day than compared to people who were on the low-fat diet.
It really is this simple, if someone is overweight or obese, then there is a reason for it. No one chooses to be that way. No one wakes up one morning and says to themselves, “I want to be fat” and then eats like a savage. A few reasons are listed below:
- It may be a life long habit and a person is addicted to the chemicals in the foods. These people may also have other addictive tendencies, such as consuming alcohol and drugs too much to the point where it seriously affects their lives and well-being.
- The person may be comfort eating. Using food if someone they loved recently died for example. The food temporally gives them a high and boost of energy, distracting them from the issues in their life that need to be dealt with. This study shows that bereaved youth was more likely to become obese 5 years after a parental death compared to non-bereaved youth.
- They may have gained weight subconsciously because they are afraid of intimacy and thus, want to repel who they would have attracted.
In situations like these, counting calories and cutting back on them will simply not work in the long term, because willpower is NOT enough. New strategies for each individual need to be thought out and implemented to see which one works for them. Taking up hobbies such as painting, getting advice from a counselor or going to therapy for example. You may then find that the calories take care of themselves and the person cuts back on them without having to obsess over losing weight.
#6 Resting metabolic rate varies day to day
If you spend too much time in bed your metabolic rate will go down. It can also go down if you are chronically stressed, or it can go up with you are having a bout of stress, or a stressful day. Therefore, if your resting metabolic rate varies from day to day, there is no real way you can count how many calories you have burned off and if you went over your calorie allotment for that day. If you do you will most likely either overestimate or underestimate the correct value. It just doesn’t work.
#7 It is not sustainable
It is not necessary or practical to count calories for the rest of your life. And it’s just not fun. The best way to change how you feel about food is to get in tune with your body. Make sure you turn off all the TVs, radios or computers when eating, and listen to your body.
It’s highly intelligent and will let you know when you are full and when it wants you to stop eating. At the end of the day, life is about living, not obsessing over about what you eat every single day and night.