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Stop counting calories and start losing weight

Updated on August 21, 2011

Calorie counting is not the best way to lose weight effectively

Traditional advice tells us to reduce calorie intake to lose weight. New diets and research on nutrition are showing that calorie counting is not the best way to lose weight effectively and permanently.

Do you want to know why counting calories might be the wrong approach to losing weight? Learn here how by stopping counting calories you can start losing weight and this time keep it off for good.

Traditional diets have emphasized the fact that to lose weight we need to reduce our calorie intake. There have only been a very small percentage of diets that have rejected that premise. Among the diet plans to lose weight which reject calorie counting are the Atkins, the Dukan diet and the Harcombe diet. Recently even the Weight Watchers plan are acknowledging that calorie counting is not the best approach to successful weight loss and they are launching a new diet plan based on the quality of the food rather than on simply counting calories.

What is a calorie?

A calorie is a unit of measure to quantify the energy in food.  Thus, for example, the experts have determined that lipids have 9 Kcal per gr. proteins 4 Kcal per gr. They have also determined that there is a need for equilibrium between the calories ingested and the calories spent. 

Why are calories useful to lose weight?

Calories are a base to adjust nutritional needs according to sex, age and other counters.  It is an international system that serves to understand the nutritional information of food.  Calorie counting is also useful to know what we can eat if we are in a diet.  However, to lose weight effectively we need to go further than just calorie counting. 

Nowadays, diets are less strict, easier to follow and put more emphasis on healthy eating.  The new idea is not to eat in terms of calories consumed but in terms of types of food.  The new trend is to choose wisely the food we eat rather than count calories.  To know that a lean chicken steak is less fattening than an entrecote is more important to keep a healthy weight. 

Why stop counting calories?

The idea behind stopping counting calories is that counting your calorie intake on its own is not enough and neither it is accurate towards losing weight. For example, 100 Kcal of tomatoes and lettuce salad does not have the same effect in your body than 100 Kcal of chocolate mousse. Both are light in weight, and both can equal 100 Kcal but the chocolate mousse is going to be more damaging to your silhouette than the salad.

The point is to stop counting calories and think about the composition of the food you are eating. Are you eating fats? Proteins? Carbohydrates?

Counting calories can put your diet in danger

Counting calories alone to lose weight can put your diet in danger because:

  • We tend to under estimate the number of calories we eat. You might end up eating much more than you are actually eating.
  • Digestion modifies the caloric value of food. This means that your body doesn’t spend energy assimilating fat but it burns up to 33 Kcal to digest the complex molecules of proteins. A good point for high protein diets!
  • Calorie counting usually doesn’t take into account the glycemic index which measures the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. The higher the glycemic index the more insulin our body produces, the more fat it stocks and we get hungry faster.
  • Calorie counting does not take into account the texture of foods. The texture of foods plays an important role in feeling satisfied after a meal. A 100 Kcal food bar or milkshake is not as satisfying as eating 100 Kcal in fruits.

Glycemic index

The glycemic index, glycaemic index, or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI
The glycemic index, glycaemic index, or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI | Source

Why reducing calorie intake is not enough to lose weight?

People who have been in several diets over time have more resistance to weight loss than those who had never dieted.  Thus, two women of the same weight and age but with different diet history can see very different results when going under a 1,500 Kcal per day diet.

Another thing to consider is the quality of the food eaten.  A 1,500 calorie diet based mainly on carbohydrates does not have the same effect in the body as a 1,500 calorie diet with a high protein content. 

Stop counting calories and start losing weight : The Harcombe Diet

The Harcombe Diet by Zoë Harcombe. Stop counting calories and start losing weight

The Dukan diet # 1 international bestselling diet book coming to North America.

The Dukan Diet a high protein diet plan

The Dukan Diet rejects counting calories and promises permanent weight loss while allowing adherents to eat as much as they like.

The Dukan diet is a natural diet for quick and permanent weight loss. The nutritionist Pierre Dukan personally monitors your progress -online- throughout a tailor-made slimming coaching plan. Discover the best way to lose weight that Pierre Dukan, your online slimming coach recommends through 4 Easy Steps to Permanent Weight Loss

Starting with a high protein diet plan that ensures fast, safe weight loss and moving to a balanced diet menu that ensures consistent, natural weight loss, the Dukan Diet is the weight loss plan you’ve been looking for!

The Dukan diet explained

The New Weight Watchers and its emphasis on the quality of the food rather than simple calorie counting

The PointsPlus program is based on the latest nutritional research on the way your body  processes food. Combined with the proven advantages of the Weight Watchers approach, the program helps you make healthy choices.  Instead of basing a food's Points on calories, fat and fibre, there will be more of an emphasis on the quality of the food. For example, brown rice will have fewer Points than white rice.

To encourage better food choices, fruit and most vegetables will have zero Points. Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn and peas will not be in the free list.

The New Weight Watchers PointsPlus program

How to stop counting calories and start losing weight

It is a matter of common sense.  Eating foods that are satisfying, reducing fat intake, increasing the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables will in time regulate your body and help you lose weight. 

The point is to stop the sensation of hunger.  Fattening foods like chocolates and salty snacks hardly ever reduce hunger; they do not have many nutrients and are high in fat.  Other foods like vegetables, eggs and meat are high in nutrients and stop hunger while burning calories once ingested. 

Other roads to follow to lose weight effectively are to increase your physical activity through exercise and good habits like walking (instead of taking the car whenever possible); climbing up stairs instead of using the lift, cooking your own meals rather than eating pre-packed meals full of additives, drinking more water instead of sugary drinks, and so on.  Little habits can make a difference over time. 


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    • Anath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Eating less and healthier plus exercising more seems the best alternative austere.

    • austere125rivers profile image


      7 years ago from Montreal Canada

      Any high protein diet is dangerous to the kidneys. Eating less without even counting your calories is the best solution. Eating less and moving more = fat loss

    • Anath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      I know, it can be difficult to keep count of calories, and anyway, it is so boring! Eating health foods is much more fun and easier to keep control over what you eat, like you say barry.

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 

      7 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I never count calories because I know I will lose count. I do try& eat foods in the 5 foods pyramid which seems to work. I know if I change the proprotion in the food groups I start to add weight

    • Anath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thank you CM, that's a compliment coming from you!

      Thanks for stopping beadydani.

      That is a great truth WE5, eating less and moving more does wonders for your health.

    • WE5 profile image


      8 years ago


      Here's my 'Every Diet Book Ever Written' four words!

      Do more, eat less. Lol!

    • beadydani profile image


      8 years ago from London, England

      A very informative article, thanks for sharing.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Great read, Anath.


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