Why I Believe Counting Calories Doesn’t Work

Kara Bauer Health Guide
  • As the founder of a gourmet vegan and raw food business in Buenos Aires, I’m often asked for calorie information for the meals we serve, but I don’t provide it. The reason being is that I don’t believe that diets that restrict are effective. In fact in most cases, calorie-based diets can be counterproductive and cause weight gain in the long term. The biggest issue from my viewpoint is that counting calories is a way of looking at food that can easily become obsessive and unhealthy for both the mind and the body. I also see that many people continue eating unhealthy foods in small quantities, which further aggravates the problem and is ineffective for sustained weight loss. I think most of us would prefer to eat as much food as we feel our bodies need (which is doable with a healthy diet) then just a tiny amount of unhealthy foods, which usually leads to more hunger, dissatisfaction and low energy. For this reason, I feel it’s important to change the way you think about food and its role in your life first and foremost. As you do so, your food preferences will change (the body will start craving the healthy stuff) and it will become easy and natural to choose the right foods to make you feel and look your best.

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    The interesting thing about eating well is that as soon as your body gets into balance, your hunger decreases and you naturally eat less. I find this particularly true in relation to the raw food diet (just as an example). Raw foods, gourmet or otherwise, tend to be packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. When you cook food, you destroy a lot of the nutrients as well as the energetic benefits associated with “live” foods. You also shorten up the digestion time. This usually means that with cooked foods, you’ll require more in terms of quantity and frequency to satisfy the nutritional needs of the body and thus feel satiated. Many times I find that with raw foods, people can only eat a tiny bit before they feel full and uninterested in eating more. This leads to naturally consuming fewer calories without putting much attention on it. Whether your foods are raw or cooked, as long as you are consuming good quality whole foods, you’ll naturally eat less and feel satisfied for longer periods of time in between meals. The bottom line is that it’s about quality, not quantity, if you want to consume less without thinking about it.


    The other thing I find with people who want to lose weight is that they are preoccupied with fats and carbohydrates. Although there are differences in the amount of fats and carbohydrates one can consume based on various biological factors unique to the individual, neither food group is our enemy. Fats do not make you fat as many believe. However, bad fats (manipulated saturated fats called trans fats) typically found in processed and fried foods are said to contribute to obesity, insulin resistance and other health problems. In my opinion, healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut oil (a natural saturated fat that does not make you fat), and clean animal product sources (if you are not vegan) are a necessity for feeling satiated. The same goes for carbohydrates. Remember that vegetables, beans and grains all fall into this category. You can never eat too many vegetables. Good quality gluten free grains such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth and brown rice will also rarely lead to weight problems as long as your diet is balanced out with good fats, vegetables, fruits and protein sources. However, pasta, bread and other processed carbohydrates can easily be stored as fat in the body when consumed in excess, due to their high glycemic nature which triggers a rapid spike in blood sugar and the suppression of glucagon, a hormone that burns fat and sugar. The type of carbohydrate is the key here, not carbohydrates themselves.


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    In most cases, granted there aren’t any hidden underlying health issues, you shouldn’t have any problem getting your weight down to a natural and healthy one by eating the right foods and addressing any cravings related to emotional needs. Since maintaining a healthy weight also requires a good relationship with yourself, emotional health is just as important as the food itself. If you find that there are self-esteem or fear related issues at the route of your inability to lose weight, it may be helpful to work with a health coach or nutritionist to assist you in uncovering those blind spots that are preventing you from being successful with diet alone.


    Above all, remember that sometimes you’ll be hungrier then other times and to trust your body’s wisdom. As you become healthier over time, your body will require less calories to operate efficiently and feel satisfied. It’s also very important to make sure that you are partaking in some form of exercise to burn excess calories and keep all internal organs and systems working optimally, including digestion, which is extremely important for reaching your natural weight. Last but not least, you’ll want to keep your thoughts positive and in-line with a healthy body, not just a thin one. We’ve all heard the wisdom that you are (or become) what you think about the most, so be aware of your thoughts and whether they are truly in line with what you want to create for your health and your life.

Published On: October 04, 2012