My Thoughts on Calorie Counting

I saw a post on Instagram today that got me thinking. The author of the post had decided to stop counting calories. And I was excited to see this!

So often when I told people I was trying to lose weight (the myriad of unsuccessful attempts), I would get the standard ‘calories in, calories out’ response the majority of the time. A lot of ads on TV, in magazines and the internet suggested this was the way to lose weight too.

So I downloaded MyFitnessPal app, a calorie counter and started using it daily. I chose the username Katietron777 (add me if you want) and recorded my weight, height, age and goal. It told me I should aim to eat 1200 calories a day. That’s not a lot. The average active woman in her late 20s (I was back then!) is ‘supposed’ to eat around 2000 calories a day, so I wasn’t being given a lot of room to move. The app works like a food diary so if something went in my mouth, I found it in the database and recorded it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. It also has a barcode scanner which is handy too.

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I managed, but I was always hungry. I wasn’t exercising much because I didn’t want to but when I did according to the app I was ‘allowed’ to eat more. Over time I started to get used to not eating much so I stuck at it. I still didn’t like it and I wasn’t losing any weight. All I had done, was cut down my portion sizes. I was still eating junk food, just less of it. Don’t get me wrong, I ate healthy foods as well, but my ratios were way off and I wasn’t getting results. I think I knew I wasn’t eating right, because I didn’t want people to know what I was eating. MyFitnessPal gives you the option of having a public food diary that people can view, or a private one that only the account holder can see. Obviously I chose private.

Then I heard about clean eating. Clean eating is basically keeping it simple. Keeping packaged and processed foods to a minimum and mostly eating whole and fresh foods. Fresh meats including fish, vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds and oils such as extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil were all in, sugary canned and packaged foods were now considered treats.

So I gave it a go. I kept using MyFitnessPal and logging all my foods, but I wasn’t counting calories anymore. Most days I went over my calorie goal. For a while this bugged me, but I was losing weight. Not only that, I felt better. I started exercising more regularly and with more effort, which made me hungrier, so I ate more and I still lost weight.

A couple of times a week I would have a ‘cheat meal’. Anything goes, take out, potato chips, cakes, pizza, anything was allowed but it had gone back to being a treat. For a while there, these were foods I was eating every day but after I started clean eating I didn’t want them everyday anymore. It was a good feeling and also, cheaper! Sure my grocery bill was a little higher, but my takeout bill was cut drastically.

I ate this way from October last year until Christmas and I lost 10kgs. Over my Christmas break I continued to log my food diary on MyFitnessPal but I ate a lot of convenience foods. I was on holiday, I figured it was OK. And it was fine, but my weight started creeping back. Even though I was still exercising and because of what I was eating I chose to be under my calorie goal, my body didn’t like the regularity I was eating these foods in. I didn’t feel as energized or happy. But I was on holiday.

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In the space of two weeks I gained back four kgs and my clothes started feeling tighter again. I was eating less, but the reality is, not all calories are created equal and they do different things to different people. I went back to my clean eating after I went back to work and it wasn’t long after that that I started my elimination diet which is ultimately how I lost most of the 26 kgs I’ve shed.

I eat a lot. Seriously, a lot. I eat every couple of hours and I don’t worry about portion sizes because I’m eating 100% clean at the moment. I still use MyFitnessPal, mostly out of habit, but I usually go way over my calorie goal and I don’t care. It is great as a food and exercise diary and it also keeps track of how much protein, fats, carbs and some vitamins that I’m eating, which is handy because we need to eat these every day. It also shares daily articles with recipes, exercise and healthy tips. I’ve made my diary public so that anyone can see it, which also keeps me on track so I don’t have to be embarrassed by what I’m eating.

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I’m not saying that calorie counting doesn’t work, but it didn’t for me. Eating healthy and exercising is what worked for me. Everyone is different, for example Zombie eats as much or as little of whatever he feels like eating most days and he feels fine and has always been skinny, but this doesn’t work for me, so I eat clean. And I like eating this way. I get to eat as much as I want and I feel great. I know I’m onto a winner.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

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6 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Calorie Counting

  1. Thank you! Finally someone makes sense about calorie counting. I personally don’t like calorie counting because it makes me obsess over food and whether or not I can’t eat this or that, and often it made me not eat even healthy food such as fruit and vegetables because it would add to my calorie count for the day. For me it’s about eating healthy, clean food (just like you) and allowing treats every now and then and exercising but not slogging myself! I’m still on my journey, will be for a while, and it’s all about making changes to my lifestyle and not going on a diet.

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    1. Couldn’t agree more Charlotte! Calorie counting can certainly be an obsession and I personally feel that there’s no reason to not eat a banana just because you’ve had your share of calories for the day! Good on you for doing what works for you 😁

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  2. I agree with you on MFP’s delusional calorie goals. It’s a good app for keeping track of what you eat, but the calorie goals are wildly inaccurate. Personally, I count macros and calories because it works for me and keeps me honest, but I did my research to find out my TDEE and a much more accurate calorie goal. If MFP had its way, we’d all be starving zombies!

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  3. I think the wisest sentence in the very apt post was this: “I think I knew I wasn’t eating right, because I didn’t want people to know what I was eating.” I like it because it shows such self understanding. So many of us are sneak eaters now and then, and usually what we sneak around to eat is not good for us. Speaking of good, you must be feeling good about yourself.

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    1. This comment has me summed up so well. Many of my failed attempts to quit smoking I would sneak a cigarette and not tell anyone and therefore it didn’t count! And I was the same with food. It’s funny because the only person losing in this scenario was me, but I kept my pride at the time so I suppose that was how I justified it. Thank you for your comment, lovely to hear from you as always.

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