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Three reasons to stop counting calories

Three reasons to stop counting calories

We stopped counting calories and here’s why…

One of the most popular options to achieve weight loss is to examine diet and start counting calories to reduce consumption.

But counting calories is riddled with issues. Here are three reasons why counting calories is not a viable option, as well as an easier way to manage your portions more sustainably to achieve the same result.

1. Calorie information is imprecise

Calorie counting and weight loss is based on the following premise: the less calories you consume, the more weight you will lose.

Packaging information

But according to Precision Nutrition, the calorie information presented on food packaging is based on database averages[1]. This translates into a possible 50% error in the calories presented on a package[2]. Every time you use a database, every time you use an online app, you have a 50% chance of being inaccurate about your actual consumption.

Clapham personal trainer explains why we stopped counting calories

Food preparation affecting calorie absorption

Additionally, when food is prepared (i.e. cooked, chopped or blended), the available energy for absorption also changes. Absorption represents the amount of calories your body actually uses versus the calories that pass through you.

For example[3], a raw potato has approximately 101 calories. When baked however, that same potato will have approximately 196 calories of absorbable energy.

Counting calories is not a viable option because there is no way to guarantee that what you count is what your body will actually absorb.

2. Counting calories is not a sustainable option

Calorie counting is very difficult to sustain.

A reason why we give up trying to change a habit is because the habit becomes too difficult to maintain on a long-term basis. This then leads to us giving up. I know this as I’ve been there and with some things I still am.

Counting calories is no exception. As a short-term approach, one could argue its benefit to improve consumption control. In the long run, can you continually count out everything you are eating? There must be an easier way.

Going back to our friends at Precision Nutrition, they propose using your hands to help determine portion sizes – all without counting calories.

Portion Control Guide

By using your hands to determine quantities of protein, good fats and carbohydrates, you’re simplifying the process of portion control and consumption.

Click here to download their portion-control guide. It’s a super simple way to manage portion sizes. No app or slide rule required.

3. Counting calories is not very sociable

A third reason on why calorie counting is not a great option is because it’s very difficult to count calories in a restaurant, café or friend’s house (you can, as long as you are willing to eat alone…all the time).

Imagine you are at a restaurant with a friend or colleague, and as soon as the menu comes out you pull out your calorie-counting app to determine what you can and can’t eat. Not a good way to enjoy an evening out.

stop counting calories

Referring to the portion control guide, this is why using your hands is an effective way to manage your consumption. Once you learn how to use your hands to measure portions, you have a ready-made measuring tool (specific to you). Simply consume the amount on your plate that fits in with your portion guidelines, and you’ll be managing your consumption in a much-more sustainable (and socially acceptable) way.

Going forward

Download the portion control guide and try it out. You’ll be surprised at how much simpler it becomes to manage your portions and control your intake.

[1] Berardi, J and Kollias, H: The Surprising Problem With Calorie Counting – Part 1: Calories In: in :NB This article has a fantastic infographic to download!

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

To learn more about healthy eating habits to achieve your fitness goals, contact James Staring, a leading personal trainer in Clapham, London.


James StaringJames Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham, London. His methods have featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Hello, Healthy, Daily Mail, Closer, and many more. After giving up smoking and entering the fitness industry in 2009, James has focused on his passion to help others transform their health and fitness. However, James is convinced that most people struggle so much more than they need to in an effort to improve their fitness. Through his company, Fit to Last, which he runs with his partner, Ali Page – James has helped hundreds of men and women make small adjustments in their daily habits to transform their fitness and to love how they look and feel.

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