There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t count calories. Counting calories can have some alarming physical consequences, but can also be time consuming and difficult to fit into your everyday life. If you’re still not sure, consider these seven reasons why you shouldn’t count calories.
Don’t think 1,500 calories of cookies is the same as 1,500 calories of wholesome, real food. If you’re counting solely the amount of calories you’re consuming and not other macro and micronutrients, you could be tricking yourself into thinking you’re eating well when really you’re not! This misleading factor is a great reason for why you shouldn’t count calories.
2. Hard to Be Accurate
Unless you measure and portion every single piece of food you put in your mouth, it’s hard to determine how many calories you’ve exactly eaten in one day. How do you know if the banana you ate had 95 or 100 calories? The point here isn’t to drive you crazy, but to realize that even when you write down exact calories and portions of certain foods, there’s always room for error.
3. Doesn’t Provide Information about Overall Nutrition
Counting calories doesn’t give you any clue about the kind of nutrition you’re getting. Even if you’re eating in a healthy caloric range, you could be missing out on essential vitamins and minerals. An apple and a cookie can both have around 80 calories, but an apple has a ton of vitamins and fiber, not to mention it won’t make your blood sugar spike like a cookie.
4. Everyone’s Number Varies
You might feel fine eating 1,300 calories a day. Your active, Cross-Fit junkie roommate might do better with 2,000 calories per day. There’s no magic caloric number for weight loss, meaning that keeping your diet super strict may or may not result in weight loss. For many people, counting calories and restricting can actually backfire, damaging your metabolism and preventing weight loss.
5. Labels Aren’t Always Correct
Did you know that nutritional labels aren’t 100 percent accurate? The FDA allows for some discretion with food companies about the nutritional labels of their products. For instance, any food or beverage with 5 or fewer calories is allowed to be labeled as calorie-free. Although this usually applies to diet sodas and other diet beverages, it still proves that even if you think you’re recording every calorie to the tee, your numbers could still be off.
6. You Can Get Carried Away
I’ve had many friends who have gotten caught up in counting calories to the point where they become obsessed. They stop eating out, socializing with friends, and even restricting certain foods/food groups they fear are high in calories. Often they end up missing out on important nutrients. It’s super easy to get carried away with calorie counting, giving you another reason to not count in the first place.
7. Hard to Eat Foods and Meals That Don’t Have a Caloric Value
If you’re counting calories, it might make you nervous or give you some anxiety if you eat something with an unknown caloric value. Are you really willing to never eat out or at a restaurant again because of something as trivial as calories? Keep in mind all the experiences you could be missing out on if you’re simply a slave to a number.
Counting calories isn’t the only way to manage your weight and overall health. Try eating whole, unprocessed foods in their most natural form and you should notice results without even worrying about calories. If you used to obsess over calories before, how did you learn to stop?