For years, conventional wisdom has held that weight loss is simply a matter of calories in vs calories out. The idea is that if we want to lose weight, we need to consume fewer calories than we burn. This has led many people to focus on counting calories as the key to weight loss. However, recent research has shown that this approach is not only ineffective, but it can also be harmful.

One major problem with calorie counting is that it doesn’t take into account the quality of the food we are consuming. For example, a 300 calorie snack of cookies is not the same as a 300 calorie snack of fruits and vegetables. The cookies will provide little in terms of nutrients and could lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes, whereas the fruits and vegetables will provide essential vitamins and minerals to the body and will help sustain energy levels and aid in the overall synthesis of our biology.

Another problem with calorie counting is that it doesn’t take into account our body’s hormonal response and gut microbiome (health) to different types of food. For example, consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates (like white flour and sugar) and saturated fats can lead to hormonal imbalances and a breakdown of the gut lining that make it difficult to lose weight, regardless of how few calories we consume.

A study published in the journal Obesity Reviews, found that calorie restriction doesn’t lead to sustainable weight loss. The study participants who restricted their calorie intake, had difficulty sticking to the plan, and their weight loss was often short-lived. Furthermore, the study suggests that focusing on calorie intake alone may not be the best approach to weight loss, it may be more beneficial to focus on the quality of the food rather than the calorie numbers. It is also virtually impossible, even for professionals,  to count calories because they’re not very accurate. Even in restaurants there is the calorie sheet, which is plus or minus 30% of calories, depending on variables. Studies show that in the U.S., it’s proven to be a worthless exercise. 

In conclusion, counting calories can be an ineffective and harmful approach to weight loss. Rather than focusing on calorie intake, it’s more important to focus on eating nutrient-dense, whole foods that provide our bodies with the vitamins and minerals they need to function at their best. Additionally, It’s also important to pay attention to how foods make us feel and how they impact our gut and hormones. This will help us to make better food choices that support our overall health and help us to achieve our weight loss goals.