Why I don’t count calories


I got a lot of feedback about this email that I sent to my newsletter subscribers, and this topic has already come up in the Lean in ’14 coaching group that started this week, so I thought I’d share it here as well 🙂 Let me know what you think on the Facebook page.

Whenever I ask my fat loss clients about why they are eating certain foods or eating a certain way, I hear things like this:

“I eat this cereal because there is only 120 calories in 1 cup” or “this yogurt only has 90 calories” and “I try to stay around 1600 calories because that’s what my app is telling me”.

When I then tell them that I could care less (to a certain degree) about how many calories they are eating, they kind of look at me like I’m crazy. Counting calories is a WEIGHT loss tool and I’m more concerned with FAT loss. They are two very different things and for a lot of women who have been counting calories for years and years, this can be a challenging thing to wrap their minds around (I know it was for me).

Calories definitely do play a role, but the hormonal effect of food is much more important than counting each and every calorie.

I love the example Jade Teta at Metabolic Effect used in one of his lectures. He compared a boneless chicken breast (skin on) and a donut. A donut has 250 calories, 20 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of protein. The chicken breast has 251 calories, 11 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates and 37 grams of protein.

So, can you see why if we were JUST counting calories, the donut would fit into our plan perfectly?

The difference lies in what happens after you eat the chicken or the donut. How will you FEEL? The hormonal release we get when we eat the donut is going to be very different than the one we get from eating the chicken breast. In most people, the donut is going to increase cravings, increase hunger and decrease energy. Leading you to feel ravenous, lethargic and craving more sugar, fat and sweets for the rest of the day. The chicken breast, on the other hand, will most likely keep you satiated longer, decrease your cravings and keep your energy balanced.

Focusing on eating mostly lean proteins (chicken, turkey, plain greek yogurt, eggs, protein powder), non-starchy vegetables (think more salad type veggies and less corn, peas, eggplant) and non-sweet fruits (apples, pears, berries) will all have a more beneficial hormonal effect on fat loss.  Even a higher calorie snack such as 2 tablespoons of almond butter and an apple would be a much better option than a 100 calorie Snackpack of wheat thins, because it most likely wouldn’t have you reaching for more later. Chances are pretty good that if you consistently choose these foods over high starch / high fat foods such as donuts, ice cream, cookies, crackers, or even over low calorie foods such as cereals and granola bars, your calories will take care of themselves.


For me, counting calories ended up being very stressful and intensified my unhealthy relationship with food. It takes a lot of practice to listen to your body and “just eat”, but for me it was worth it. What do you think?

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