So often when people decide to lose weight they immediately think calorie counting. Many popular diets are centered around portion control and, at face value, this seems to make sense. After all, wouldn’t it be nice if I could eat anything I wanted as long as I didn’t eat too much? Or if I burned it all off on the treadmill? 

Unfortunately, there are a few flaws with this way of thinking:

1. Not every calorie is created equal. 

The body processes different foods differently, and some very low calorie foods can actually encourage weight gain. For example, zero calorie sodas usually contain artificial sweeteners which are known excitotoxins.

MSG is also a known excitotoxin and is often added to low-calorie foods to make them taste more appealing. MSG damages the part of the brain which regulates growth hormones and has been shown to cause obesity. The ingredient can hide in 40 different ingredients, and is present in even non-diet foods, so be sure to educate yourself. TruthInLabeling.org has more information and I recommend Russell Blaylock’s book Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills.

2. Counting calories may lead to unhealthy food choices. 

Sure, I can eat 10 chocolate chip cookies and nothing else and still stay within my set calorie goals. But what about nutrition?  An obsession with numbers can distract you from making good decisions about what you eat. Plus, it could lead you to avoid healthy fats (for example, found in avocados) simply because those foods have more calories.

3. Some calories are more filling than others. 

A 200-calorie salad may completely fill my stomach, whereas a 200-calorie snack bar may leave me hungry and craving more.  You’re less likely to binge on a full stomach and the fiber in the salad will keep your digestive system clean as well. 

An unhealthy digestive system can lead to sugar cravings, which certainly make it difficult to stay on the right track. For example, candida albicans is a naturally occurring yeast in our digestive tracts, but once it gets out of control due to over consumption of sugar, it can leave you craving sweets to the point where self-control becomes difficult.

4. "Working off the calories" is difficult for a body that's nutritionally starved. 

A low-calorie piece of chocolate cake will not provide your body enough fuel to endure the strenuous exercise required to burn those calories. Workouts are easier and more rewarding when you have been feeding your body foods high in natural energy, such as complex carbohydrates and lean proteins.

A diet rich in fresh, raw fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins will leave you feeling full and nourished, and less likely to crave unhealthy foods. You will naturally consume fewer calories as well, so you might just find yourself deleting your calorie-counting app and replacing it with some real food cookbooks!

What are your experiences with calorie counting? Share below.

Homeschooling mom of three, Emily is a certified Dr. Sears Health Coach, vegan and self-proclaimed health nerd. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and her blog Easy Veggies.

Photo: W