Is calorie counting sinking your weight loss goals? For decades, women have been told that calorie counts are a key part of losing weight. But is that really the best advice for all women? Learn these 7 ways counting calories can sabotage weight loss goals.
Counting calories is often considered a fundamental part of the weight loss equation. Conventional thinking tells us that 3,500 calories equals one pound, so cutting 500 calories each day should lead to a weight loss of about one pound per week. In reality, weight loss is more complex than simply subtracting calories from the menu. In some cases, focusing on calories can make it harder to shed those pounds and inches. Here’s why:
1. Not all calories are created equal.
Two hundred calories of muffin is not the same as 200 calories of green salad. Counting calories puts the focus on quantity instead of quality. You may end up subtracting overall calories, but those calories might not have the nutritional power to support healthy weight loss. Try recipes with healthy ingredients like Flush the Fat Away Vegetable Soup or Veggie Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.
2. Calorie counts can be inaccurate.
Tallying calories in any food has always been a game of rough estimation. For example, scientists are now finding some foods contain fewer calories than older estimates indicated; research has shown that almonds have 20% fewer calories than previously believed . Worry less about calories and focus on eating healthy portion sizes with this 5-Day Menu Plan with Perfect Portions or DIY Skinny Salad-in-a-Jar.
3. Baseline calorie counts are just estimates, too.
For years, the 2,000-calorie diet was the standard for any healthy adult. However, we now understand individuals vary when it comes to how many calories are needed to lose or maintain weight. An active adult man may need as many as 2,800 calories to maintain a healthy weight, while a sedentary adult woman may only need 1,800 calories. Focusing on an incorrect baseline estimate can make it harder to lose or even gain weight. Get healthy with Slow Cooker Chunky Bean & Vegetable Soup or Sautéed Green Beans and Mushrooms.
4. Counting calories reinforces the misperception that “low calorie” is healthy.
Processed foods labeled “low calorie” may offer fewer calories, but they’re often high in unhealthy ingredients, such as sugar, sodium, and questionable additives. Instead of processed foods, nosh on minimally-processed foods like 21 Clean-Eating Pre-Portioned Snacks or Tzatziki Yogurt Sauce.
5. It can encourage you to avoid healthy foods.
Some superfoods are naturally higher in calories, yet they still offer nutritional benefits that help build strong muscles and boost metabolism. Eggs, avocados, meat, olive oil, and nuts are examples of higher calorie foods that deliver important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Try Avocado Breakfast Pizzas or this Clean-Eating Nut Butter and Jam Sandwich.
6. Calorie counting is time consuming.
While it’s important to read food labels so you know what’s going into your body, it can be a time-consuming hassle to count calories each time you open your mouth to eat. As mentioned above, you may not be getting an accurate calorie count anyway. Add this Cleanse and Detox Superfood Salad and Chicken Parmesan Over Zucchini Noodles to your menu this week.
7. Calorie restriction isn’t healthy.
The mindset that “less is better” can work against you when you want to lose weight. Food fuels us so we can give presentations at work, chase after toddlers, battle germs, and so much more. Consuming too few calories kicks the body into a starvation mode that conserves calories, making it harder to lose weight in the long run. Wilted Chard, Chickpea, and Pomegranate Salad and One-Pot Chicken Breasts in Chinese Brown Sauce are healthy ways to give your body what it needs.
Check out SkinnyMs. on Pinterest. We share recipes and meal planning resources, including Skinny Slow Cooker and 30-Minute Meals. Like our Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates!
We’d love to hear what you think of this post about counting calories, or what you’d like to see on our site. Leave us a comment in the comment section below.