Help stop the calorie craze

August 28, 2014

Tracking your food is an important first step in identifying what may be hurting your performance or figuring out what substitutions can be made for a more ideal meal.  I’ve been on the hunt for an app that is easy to use and doesn’t require a lot of research for the user to accurately track their food.  I request that my clients periodically send me food logs and having something easy and intuitive makes this activity easier to implement.


However, during my search and testing of different food log apps (including the one I like the best), I became really frustrated because they all put their primary focus on calories!

It’s hard to believe that with all the failed dieting attempts through cutting calories people still believe that calories are the answer to achieving weight loss and body composition goals.


In fact, focusing on calories is one of the worst approaches to sustainable weight loss. It will not help you achieve your desired long term weight loss and body composition goals, and it will leave you frustrated and HUNGRY!


Let’s look at this simple example using me.  Once I found an app that I liked best, I started tracking my foods to test out all the functionality.  The app told me that I was over my caloric intake needed to maintain my weight by 800-1200 calories per day (over the course of a week).  This did also take into  account my workouts.  So, if on average I was over consuming 1,000 calories per day; in one week I should have gained 2lbs.


The math:  If 1lb = 3,500 calories, then 1,000*7 = 7,000/3,500 = 2 lbs.


And since the foods that I tracked are on par for an average week for myself, this means that I should theoretically gain 2lbs EVERY week! Or on a larger scale, in one year I would gain 104lbs! That would almost double my current weight!  There are a lot of exclamation points, I know, but seriously, do you believe those numbers?!!

I can assure you this is not so, and I can assure you that there are weeks around holidays and vacations where the app would most definitely tell me that I’ve exceeded calories by even more.   Phew! This makes me happy that I never do pay attention to calories because all of this theorizing is stressing me out.  Double my weight – holy crap.  Yes, that is enough to scare anyone into calorie restriction, but I am telling you that it is not necessary!


Well, if calories should not be the focus then what should?


The composition of the foods you eat and why you eat them.  Let’s be clear, this doesn’t mean that you should throw caution to the wind and eat everything you want all the time, since you will no longer focus on calories.  But you should eat when you are hungry.


The problem here can occur when you are not sure if the signals you are getting are true biological hunger or your body signaling that it’s depleted it’s glycogen with no access to any other fuel sources.  These two are not the same.


Teaching your body how to get back to it’s true physiology can be achieved when paying attention to your meal composition – the most important reason to track your food!


Get tracking, ignore calories, and let me know what meal composition trends you notice. Share below!