When recently covering the dangers of caloriecounting as a topic on my social media, the goal was to help those considering using calorie counting as a way to lose weight just after the Christmas festive season to think twice. However, the reality is that calorie counting can occur at any time of the year, and because of this; I thought it was important to share some of the dangers of this to my wider audience.
Counting Calories, But Not Nutrients?
In 2021, four out of every ten adults in Britain were reported to obsess over calorie counting according to a study carried out by Cytoplan. One major concern that came out ofthis is that the same people who count calories are not aware of their intake of vitamins and minerals, and could be extremely deficient when calorie counting.
When it comes to calorie counting, it is important to know that not all calories are created equally. In fact, according to Dr Mark Hyman,counting calories does not matter at all. He has said that if it did and that if the advice surrounding calorie counting was true and doable, those that did it would all be thin and healthy by now. 
Not All Calories are Created Equally
Dr Mark Hyman also has a great example he uses to help us understand just why calories are not created equally. Which is that in a laboratory setting or "isolated system", 1000 calories in a soft drink is the same as 1000 calories of broccoli - and both would release the same amount of energy. 
But everything changes when both enter a human body - that is, living, breathing and digesting! When food is eaten, the isolated system theory goes right out of the window. Once food interacts with your biology - this transforms every bite differently.

One study carried out by Florida International University helps prove this. This study looked at 154 countries and analysed the correlation of calories, sugar, and diabetes. The scientists here found that adding 150 calories a day to the diet barely raised the risk of diabetes in the population, but if those 150 calories came from soft drinks, the risk of diabetes went up by a staggering 700 percent!
The Dangers of CalorieCounting
Despite its popularity, calorie counting can be harmful to health in many ways. 
These are some of the known side-effects:
  • may lead to disordered eating behaviours and yoyo dieting (which can also trigger thyroid issues),
  • may create anxiety around certain foods and unless there is an allergy or intolerance, there is simply no need to be restrictive,
  • restrictive eating can cause nutritional deficiencies causing minor to severe complications,
  • may increase your Body Mass Index (BMI) by continuously pumping out cortisol unnecessarily from the act of restricting food when the body needs it, which can increase belly fat stores and have other negative consequences on health,
  • can create lowered health indicators,
  • prevent intuitive eating which is allowing the body to feel when it is naturally hungry and full - by overriding these feelings you won't be able to tell if you are consuming too little or too much food, both of which can have negative consequences.


The Best Way to Achieve Weight Loss

Calorie counting may seem tempting, but the side effects are just not worth it. The best way to approach weight loss is to think about doing this in a sustainable way that creates longterm weight loss. And an ideal way to put this goal into a simple easy to achieve action is to focus on consuming more whole foods and less processed foods overthe course of a day, until you eventually cut processed foods out completely. 
By slowing transitioning into more whole foods and less processed foods you will be laying good strong foundations for any unnecessary weight you may be carrying to come away. 
The key is to plan your meals for the week ahead of time, and to take time to visit the shops to get the ingredients ahead of time.
A recent study published by the Stamford Prevention Research Centre (that was a randomised control trial which is the gold standard in research) also showed that eating as much healthy nutrient-dense whole foods as the participants wanted led them to lose weight and stay full during the day. The take home message from this study was these participants did not starve themselves, remained feeling full and still lost a considerable amount of weight.

So, when done correctly, you do not have to worry about going hungry when you want to lose weight: simply focus on eating real whole foods as often as you can in the day and the science is there to prove this. 
Whole foods include foods like lean meat, brown rice, lentils, legumes, a little fresh fruit, olive oil, avocados, salmon, cheese, nut butters and pasture-raised animal products. Try printing our a comprehensive list out and sticking it to your fridge to help inspire your daily food intake.

Are you looking to achieve a healthy weight? I help people become independently healthy and achieve a healthy weight by using naturopathic nutrition, herbal medicine and other complementary modalities. Please drop me an email to discuss your health concern or query 

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