Why Counting Calories is Pointless


You can consider this article a pre-req for my other articles coming out soon, so if you’re reading this, know I am currently working on more articles to educate you on exactly what you need to be eating for your health, and how to incorporate these healing foods in your diet. This information is essential to begin with, so get ready to flip everything you’ve learned so far about health on it’s head!

I began a journey of healing and self-discovery through food and nutrition not too terribly long ago.

I didn’t understand the importance of real foods.

I thought calories were what mattered, and since I *counted calories* - I considered myself healthy. To the point of where if anyone asked me for weight loss advice, I recommended to my sweet friends who looked up to me, (ugh, I can’t believe I did this for so long) to start counting their calories.

To be fair, it does partially work, and it will work in short-term weight loss.

The Law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, so the food you eat (a.k.a. your body’s energy source) is either used for energy or stored. Thus, it made sense to me that we could just count the number of calories of energy in our food, use a calorie tracker or an equation to calculate the amount of energy we burn everyday, and just consume less calories than we burn to lose weight! I really thought it was that easy.

I won’t get into the science of how all of this works, but the reason counting calories is bogus (I have now come to realize) is that there is NO way we know for sure exactly how fast our metabolism actually runs (there are so many different factors that come into play here besides age and gender such as activity level, stress level, medical conditions, etc.) so, we have absolutely no idea how many calories we burn each day.

There are multiple equations online that can give you a good “guess-timate” on your daily calorie burn, but this number could be widely different from your actual number depending on your personal lifestyle and hormone levels.

Another terrible reason for counting calories is that we have NO idea how many calories are actually in our food.

I used to say, “Oh, but this food label says 200 calories per 100g of pasta! I’ll just weigh it out and then I’ll know exactly how many calories I’m consuming!”

It was a good thought, and it took a lot of work to carry out (for years I did this..) but, my results weren’t there.

I found out later that food labels are allowed an error of up to 20% on their calories.

That could definitely mess with my goals, but the main problem here is that when short on time, we often tend to reach for something that’s already prepared in a package, is deemed “healthy” and has a barcode label that we can easily scan and put into our food log for the day. (I am SO guilty of this.) I rarely bought whole food sources or made my own healthy smoothies or dishes because counting the calories for each tablespoon of chia seeds, ½ of a banana, etc. took SO much more time. (And there are different sizes.. So is it a medium or a large banana? I had no idea! The calories are different though, which results in more error..) It was so tedious. Therefore, I opted for packaged foods more often than not.

Not until recently did I finally discover that packaged foods, foods made with added sugar, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, and tons of simple carbs were destroying my health. (I’m coming after you, “healthy granola bars” and “healthy cereals.”)

There’s way too much information to share in one article about the reason these foods are extremely bad for our body, but trust me when I say that there are few packaged foods that can sit on a shelf for longer than 2 weeks that are actually good for your health. (Nuts and seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, and almond butter are some of the very few.)

So what do I recommend now?

As an experienced health conscious girl, who's tried the fads and done what she thought was supposed to be “healthy” and “good” all of these years, my answer is surprisingly simple.

Quit counting calories, and learn to listen to your body.

Calculating calories when eating real food is so silly. If you’re eating fresh produce with healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil and chia seeds, you’ll get full on good food that’s helping your body be healthy, fight illness, and increase energy production.

So, eat real food. Eat organic food. Eat food that’s not packaged. Eat fresh food that will spoil in a week or two.

TIP FROM MO: Meal plan by writing down what meals you want to eat for that week, then what foods you will need to make those dishes, then grocery shop accordingly that Saturday or Sunday. Go ahead and chop up your fresh ingredients for the week, so when it comes time to make your food, it’s already halfway prepared!

By cutting out extra sugar, limiting your hydrogenated oils, and eating fresh, nutrient-dense food, you’ll find that not only are your energy levels increased, but you’ll sleep better, and you’ll find yourself losing weight. Fresh produce is typically very high in fiber, and low in calories. By switching out packaged goods, or food from a restaurant with fresh food, you’ll naturally increase your metabolism and decrease your intake of extra, avoidable calories.

I know this is a lot of information, but really, I barely scraped the surface.

Now that you know to start eating fresh produce, stop counting calories, and what to cut out, you’re essentially prepared to entirely change your life and health.

I have received a lot of knowledge from Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Autumn Bates, and her YouTube videos and blog. You can check out the video where she discusses more of what I wrote in this article, here.

Thanks for reading, & organic wishes to you on your own journey!

- Morgan


Morgan Gill is a Clinical Exercise Physiology major at Mississippi State University. She's multi-passionate, running a business while also pursuing other dreams. Her fitness has always remained a priority. Her workouts consist mostly of consistent weight training mixed with runs, yoga, and HIIT.