We’ve all been bombarded with the same weight loss message: calories in must be less than calories out. It sounds simple enough to reduce your weight loss goals to a number. But letting your goals revolve around the number of calories you consume can derail your progress. Yes, science shows that restricting calories and burning more than you consume will shed pounds. However, science forgets to mention this solution is only successful short-term!
We don’t want to burst your bubble, but if you’re not careful, counting calories will only spark a sequence of unhealthy choices and lifestyle habits that invite those once-lost pounds back into your life. Counting calories alters your hormonal balance and can send dangerous messages to your brain, ultimately encouraging your body to cling to fat for dear life. Read up on why counting calories could be killing your progress.
1. A Calorie is Not a Calorie
Not all calories are created equal! Knowing this will affect how successful you are at losing weight. Fat, carbs, and protein all require different amounts of energy to digest, so it comes down to the quality of food you’re eating, not the quantity.
For example, a high-glycemic, super processed snack bar requires far less energy to digest than a minimally processed slice of whole grain toast. Even if both foods have the same calorie count, your body digests the snack bar at such a speedy rate that the leftover energy is stored and eventually converted to fat. Whole, nutrient-dense foods have a different impact on energy intake than artificial ones, which affects your ability to lose weight.
2. You Consume more Processed Foods
When trying to eat within a 1200 calorie window, you’re more likely to reach for that 60 calorie key lime pie flavored yogurt cup than an apple. Why? Because for barely any calories, you get to gobble something pie-flavored! Surrendering to processed foods that boast low-calorie profiles is tempting while counting calories.
Unfortunately, artificial options throw off your hormones and cause your appetite to spin out of control. When you consume processed foods, your body produces more ghrelin, a hunger hormone, and less leptin, a fullness hormone. As a result, your body feels malnourished and sends you intense hunger cues even after eating. Nutrient-dense foods like nuts, veggies, meats, and fruits send your brain the proper signals and keep your appetite in check.
3. It Ups your Stress Levels and Cravings
In addition to being a killjoy, counting calories makes you deprive yourself of truly satisfying foods. It also motivates you to consume low-calorie, low-nutrient foods that trigger never-ending hunger and a growling, grumbling tummy. Constant deprivation leads to eating anxiety and sucks the happiness out of your day. This chronic dieting stress causes you to produce more cortisol, the stress hormone, which tricks your body into thinking it’s in danger. As a result, you cling to calories and have more difficulty burning them off.
4. Chances Are, You’re Way Off Anyways
More often than not, plugging your height and weight into a basic BMI calculator to estimate your calorie needs yields far-from-accurate results. In fact, research shows most formulas recommend a number 100-300 calories higher than you need!
This can throw off your calorie counting intentions and convince you to consume way more than you’re burning. Speaking of scary statistics, studies suggest that most nutrition labels are also off. They boast numbers as much as 8-18% lower than their true numbers.
At the end of the day, losing weight comes down to portion control, hormones, and the quality of food you consume, not the quantity. Over time, counting calories will do nothing but motion unwanted pounds to creepy-crawl their way back to your life.
When cravings get the best of you, reach for one of these 12 Clean Eating Snacks for Weight Loss. They come with the nutrients you need to calm cravings and balance hormones while tasting delicious.
For other tips and tricks to win the battle against unwanted pounds, read Fat Loss Forever for some helpful insight.
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