To Count or Not To Count Calories? That is the question.

You probably know already, but I used to count calories. I was logging my food on Myfitnesspal in the morning to plan what I was going to eat to make sure I won’t go over my calorie goal for the day which was between 900 and 1,200 calories. I was also doing cardio even though I did not really like it to burn more calories. The problem with cardio is that it makes you hungrier, so when I was coming back from my run I was eating 1 to 2 bowls of sugary cereals with milk. At the end, I was basically running for nothing because I ended up eating more than I burned during my workout. Since I was eating more after my run that I planned I was eating less for lunch, and dinner. I was usually drinking a smoothie for dinner, because I did not have much calorie left to eat if I wanted to hit my goal. I had result at first, but it did not last long until I plateaued.

You probably went through that or maybe you are doing this at the moment. You probably heard like me that to lose weight we should eat less, and exercise more, but you might not see results doing this like 95% of those who tried this. I thought that I was doing something wrong that I was not trying hard enough, or maybe I was not burning enough calories. I started exercising twice a day, and I cut my calories even more. I was not seeing any more results. I was hungrier, more tired, but I was not losing fat.

One day I came accross the book The Calorie Myth, and I finally understood why all my hard work was not working. All I was doing was ruining my metabolism by trying over, and over again something that was not working. I was starving, overtraining my body, and instead of listenning to it I kept trying harder. I was eating less, so my body thought that I was starving, so it burned less calories to save energy. In the book The Calorie Myth, Jonathan Bailor explains that our body wants to achieve homeostasis, and there is a complex control system in our brain that adjusts the calories ou body takes in and expends which keeps our weight stable over time. This control system explains why we burn less when we eat less, and burn more when we eat more. Our body does not want us to be fat, or sick, so it will adjust to keep us from getting fat if we eat more until it is overwhelmed, and does not regulate our weight which leads to overweight and obesity. You can eat less low-quality foods, but you will not solve the problem. I like the analogy of the sink that Jonathan Bailor uses in his book; if you have a clogged sink it is because you put the wrong things in it (hair), and using less water won’t solve the problem, but you can choose to fix your sink, or use less water all your life. The same goes with your metabolism you can either fix it by esting high-quality foods, or you can count calories all your life, and eat the wrong type of foods. If you eat high-quality foods you won’t have to worry about the quantity because your body will eventually regulate your weight just like your sink regulates the water, unless you put the wrong things in it.

I understood that to lose weight (or lose fat) I had to feed my body with high-quality food instead of starving it, and counting calories while eating low-quality food. I am now focusing on eating about 10 servings of non-starchy vegetables, 3 to 6 servings of nutrient-dense proteins, and 3 to 6 servings of whole-food fats without counting calories. I am in the process of healing my body, and giving it time to adjust to the amount of food I am eating. I am not weighing myself everyday like I used to because my goal is to lose fat, and it does not necessarily mean losing weight. I am no longer frustrated by the little amount of food I thought I had to eat to lose weight, and I have more energy that I used to have four years ago. I highly encourage you to stop starving yourself, and worrying about counting calories because your body is smart enough to adjust everything that is going on in your body including calories in, and calories out, so let it do its job.

If you want more information about Jonathan Bailor’s program you can check it out here.

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