Three reasons to focus on food – not calories

Most of us have been taught that counting calories is the fastest way to lose weight. Unfortunately, it’s not. In fact, research has found that counting calories leads to failure about 95% of the time and often leaves people bigger than they were before.

So, if you want to lose weight, focus on the type of food you eat – not the calories in them. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Calories are not created equal, and your body knows that. Real food, like broccoli, blueberries and other plant-based fare, are rich in nutrients. That means they fill you up and keep you full for a long time. Plus, they trigger your body to release hormones that tell it to burn fat. On the flip side, when you consume low-nutrient foods, like white bread or other processed fare, it triggers your body to over eat and store fat. So, when faced between a 100-calorie pack of Oreo crisps and an apple, choose the apple and let your body do its thing. 
  2. You listen to your head, instead of your body. Your body knows what it needs to thrive. And it’s always trying to guide you towards those foods. But it’s sometimes hard to hear this advice – especially after years of consuming low-quality, low-nutrient foods. So, when you count calories, you move further away from this intuition. You’re too busy counting out your meal’s calories to hear if your body agreed with what you ate. Numbers keep you in your head, which is a problem as we’re feeding our bodies – not our minds.  
  3. All you do is think about food. Do you really want to be measuring out every meal and journaling every piece of food you eat? Absolutely not. Nobody does. But when you count calories, food consumes your day: “I ate 500 calories at lunch. Sh*t. That means, I only have 600 calories left, but I’m SO hungry now. Can I have a snack? Where do I find a dinner that’s less that 400 calories?” Sound familiar? Food is supposed to be both fuel and fun. Counting calories removes both of food’s purpose.

So, if you’re not supposed to count calories, what are you supposed to do? Focus on your food choices. Focus on eating whole, real foods, with no added sugar, whenever you can. It really is that simple. If you choose high-nutrient, high-quality food, you can almost forget about the numbers.