Are you still counting calories? Do you obsess over how many calories you eat each day? If your answer is yes then this article Why Calories Don’t Matter is perfect for you!
Think of Nutrition Like an Onion
Don’t worry, I used to spend my days counting calories too because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. But not anymore.
As a registered dietitian and nutrition expert, I am here to explain to you Why Calories Don’t Matter, and what actually does.
I want you to think of nutrition like an onion. The calories are like the outside papery peel of the onion – the first thing to get thrown away.
Because when it comes down to it, calories consumed are the least important factor when it comes to nutrition.
Yes, eating too little* or too many calories is detrimental to the body in their own respect, but if you’re following a nutrient dense diet approach and learn to fuel your body with quality foods over quantity foods, I promise that you will never need to count calories again.
*And guess what? Eating too little calories is the #1 thing I see women doing that is sabotaging their healthy lifestyle.
If you need help calculating your energy requirements, contact a professional (ahem, a registered dietitian) – but for the love of nutrition, please do not aim for a 1,200 calorie diet!
Calories In vs. Calories Out
Yes, technically calories in must equal calories out in order to maintain weight loss. And yes, you must burn off more calories than you consume in order to lose weight.
But when it comes to health and nutrition, understanding what works and what doesn’t for each individual person goes WAY BEYOND calories.
And that’s exactly why I am telling you that calories don’t matter.
Restricting your daily caloric intake to anything less than 1,500 calories per day does much more harm than good and will cause physiological changes that will slow down your metabolism and cause your body to hold onto excess weight.
I want you to understand that food should not be used as a form of punishment.
Food should be used as fuel for your body.
Everything you eat should be carefully chosen as a means to fuel your body, to provide your body with all of the nutrients that it needs to function properly; happily & healthy on a day-to-day basis.
Calories and Macronutrients
The next layer of the ‘nutrition onion’ is what is known as macronutrients: the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins – or as the Instagram world likes to call it ‘macros’.
These are the larger components our food. All food is composed of these three things in different quantities. Ideally, I like to see these macros consumed in an equal one-third ratio meaning that 33% of your intake is from carbohydrates, 33% from fat and 33% from protein, give or take. But that is what works for me, you need to find what works for you.
These macronutrients are the fuel that the body uses to carry out all of our daily activities, build muscle, help the brain function and so much more. Monitoring your intake of these three components is more important than monitoring your intake of calories.
Calories and Micronutrients
The inside of the onion, the ‘meat and potatoes’ if you will, is what we know as micronutrients: the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and various nutrition compounds that keep our bodies healthy.
Micronutrients are the most important components of good nutrition.
These are what the body uses to perform every minuscule operation we need to live and function properly. From hormones to brain signals and function, micronutrients will keep us functioning properly. These micro-nutrients are only found in whole foods, the closer to nature the better.
Why Calories Don’t Matter
The reason that I believe that counting calories is not important is no doubt complicated.
For one, did you know that by law the information listed on a nutrition facts panel are allowed to be up to 20% incorrect?
That’s right, INCORRECT. Why?
Because nutrition is a science and it is nearly impossible to get an accurate answer when there are SO many factors involved. Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to estimate the number of calories in, for example, a cup of spinach, because when I measure as one cup may not be the same as when you measure a cup of spinach.
It is extremely difficult to calculate how many calories a person needs each day for a variety of reasons, and it is never the same from day-to-day. The methods used to calculate caloric requirements are nothing more than an educated guess unless you have access to indirect calorimetry – which I have yet to see in my 7 years of in the field of nutrition.
If you follow a 1,200 calorie diet, which is far too low for anybody, your body will not be able to lose weight. I promise you that.
Your body will react as if it were starving – because it is. It will hold onto every last calorie and paste it right onto your hips, ass and thighs. You will feel hungry and deprived and miserable. I don’t ever suggest anyone drop below 1,500 calories per day even if your goal is weight loss.
What I really want you to take away from this is that it is not how many calories you consume, it is what makes up those calories is critically important.
Take this example:
The difference between these two diets, while calorically the same, if the quality and a number of nutrients found in the second diet.
The first diet, composed mainly of refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats and processed foods will not do your body any good. The second diet, full of fruit and vegetables, all natural ingredients and minimally processed foods will provide your body with all of the micro-nutrients needed to not only function properly and make you feel good, but also help you to lose the unwanted weight as well
Your body will not lose weight if you are starving it or feeding it crap.
I promise you will feel happier, look better, achieve your goals quicker and faster when you stop counting calories and start to pay attention to the things that really matter.
I Am Here to Help
I am dedicated to helping you understand how to create a life of health & happiness that you truly love.
Together, I will help you to break free from the diet mentality and calorie trap.
I will show you how to choose quality foods over quantity foods, how to enjoy eating again and how to love yourself, mind, body and spirit.
I want to help you learn how to listen to your body and hear what it needs, to trust your natural hunger cues and to trust yourself to make the right choice.
Learning that calories don’t matter is just one small lesson you will learn during our time in holistic health counseling sessions together.
You deserve a life of health and happiness. I can help.
Here’s to staying happy & healthy. Together.
DON’T FORGET YOUR MEAL PLAN
If you’re looking for additional help in meal planning or discovering new and delicious recipes to try, be sure to download my Free eBook – The Happy & Healthy Flexible Meal Plan below:
Hi there, I’m Emily Kyle, a nationally recognized media dietitian & nutrition communications expert on a mission to help you create the happy & healthy holistic lifestyle you deserve. To help you on your wellness journey, I offer holistic health counseling and resources that focus on holistic health & wellness, anti-inflammatory, whole food recipes, and my love for gardening inside #TheMillennialGarden.