10 Reasons Calorie Counting Is Crazy

 Counting Calories to Lose Weight is NOT the answer. 

Despite the fact that every lasting healthy lifestyle (whole foods, keto, paleo, vegetarian, low-carb, low-glycemic, Mediterranean, etc.) focuses on what we eat rather than how much we eat, the mainstream still seems to insist that if we just counted our calories more conservatively, we could end the obesity epidemic. The proven fact is that calorie-counting approaches fail 95.4% of the time. That’s a higher failure rate than quitting smoking cold turkey. [1 – 4]

10. Just Breathe Less

Blindly eating less to cure obesity is like breathing less to cure allergies. It may offer temporary “relief” but ultimately fails because it is masking symptoms rather than fixing causes. Will eating only 1,200 of anything cause you to lose weight? Yes. So will cutting off your leg. That doesn’t mean either is a good idea. Counting calories is a euphemism for starvation. It’s the definition of an eating disorder. [5] And the sooner you are able to free yourself from oppressive calorie myths, and instead enjoy eating more—but higher-quality food—the sooner you will live your best life.

Shifting our focus from calorie quantity to food quality is easier said than done considering the constant barrage of calorie myths we’re hit with daily. To help you free yourself from disproven calorie math, here are more of my favorite common sense reasons calorie counting cannot be required for long term health and fitness.


9. Nobody Knew What A Calorie Was BEFORE the Obesity Epidemic

If we need to constantly count calories to avoid obesity, then how did we have about ten times less obesity before anyone knew what a calorie was, let alone count them? [6 – 8]

8. Every Other Species Avoids Obesity Without Counting Calories

If we need to constantly count calories to avoid obesity, how does every other animal on the planet avoid obesity even though they cannot count?

7. We Don’t Need to Count Anything Else We Eat

If we need to constantly count calories to avoid obesity, why don’t we need to count everything else? What about Vitamin C in and Vitamin C out? How about Zinc in and Zinc out? And what about counting the other 18 minerals, 12 vitamins, 9 essential amino acids, 8 conditionally essential amino acids, and the 2 essential fatty acids?

6. No Other Life Sustaining Bodily Function Needs to Be Counted

If we need to constantly count calories to avoid obesity, then why don’t we need to “count” blood sugar to avoid diabetes? Or what about “counting” blood pressure to avoid hypertension? And how is it that when we take more water in, more water out happens unconsciously?

5. It Is Impossible to Count Calories In

The only way to actually count calories in the real world would be to only eat food that has nutrition facts labels on them. Even in this impossible case, these labels have a 10% margin of error. [9] While this may not seem like a big deal, considering that the average person eats about a million calories per year, and 10% of a million is 100,000 calories margin of error, which translates into 30 lbs. worth of body fat, couldn’t we each gain 30 lbs. of fat per year even after counting every calorie we ate due to measurement error?

4. It Is Impossible to Count Calories Out

If we need to constantly count calories to avoid obesity, then how do we accurately account for the 400 to 700 calories our liver burns daily? Or what about the 200 to 400 calories we burn digesting food daily? And how do we count the 100 to 700 calories we burn per day building and repairing bodily tissue? 75% of the calories we burn every day have nothing to do with exercise, walking, or anything measured by any expensive fitness gadget, so how are we supposed to accurately and practically keep track of these? [10 – 12]

3. The Flat Earth Theory of Weight Loss

Counting calories is the flat earth theory of weight loss. It’s reasonable. It’s intuitive. But it is wrong once we understand modern science. The research is clear and the common sense is undeniable. Every single society and species that ever existed that focused foods found directly in nature—vs. processed low-calorie edible products—stayed slim without counting calories. Similarly, when cultures or creatures start eating processed edible products, they start seeing increasing rates of obesity and diabetes.

2. Just Frown Less and Smile More

Ending obesity is not about eating less or exercising more just like ending depression is not about frowning less and smiling more. Both health and happiness are about quality, not quantity. They are about filling ourselves with so much good that we don’t have room for bad. It’s what we did prior to the obesity and diabetes epidemics, and it’s what we’ll do to end them. No math needed.

1. Food Is More Delicious Than Math

Let’s EAT, shall we?
We interviewed Jonathan for our podcast- and that episode will be live shortly. Be sure you are SUBSCRIBED to FitFluential Radio on iTunes so you don’t miss an episode! 

Guest Author: Jonathan Bailor

Jonathan Bailor is the founder of Wellness Engineering and the world’s fastest growing permanent weight loss and diabesity treatment company SANESolution. He authored the NYTimes best seller The Calorie Myth and The Setpoint Diet, has registered over 26 patents, and has spoken at Fortune 100 companies and TED conferences for over a decade. His work has been endorsed and implemented by top doctors from Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, and UCLA. Jonathan lives outside Seattle with his wife, Angela, and daughter Aavia Gabrielle.



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  4. ” A word about quitting success rates .” American Cancer Society :: Information and Resources for Cancer: Breast, Colon, Prostate, Lung and Other Forms. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2011.
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  7. http://www.prb.org/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx
  8. http://www.google.com/publicdata/directory
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  10. Wang Z, Heshka S, Zhang K, Boozer CN, Heymsfield SB. Resting energy expenditure: systematic organization and critique of prediction methods. Obes Res. 2001 May;9(5):331-6. Review. PubMed PMID: 11346676.
  11. 1998: Poehlman E T; Melby C Resistance training and energy balance. International journal of sport nutrition 1998;8(2):143-59.
  12. Whitehead, Saffron A.; Nussey, Stephen (2001). Endocrinology: an integrated approach. Oxford: BIOS. pp. 122. ISBN 1-85996-252-1.

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