Calories In, Calories Out

It’s possibly because of the new year and all the weight loss resolutions that go with it, but I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that the number of weight loss and nutrition articles on, the main New Zealand news site, seems to have increased quite a bit.

I read a lot of them.  I like to keep up to date with the latest research but I also find it really interesting how each article seems to contradict the previous and next one.  There are sometimes a few common themes, but generally, you’ll get conflicting information from each one.  Personally, I think the reason for this is because the simple fact is, despite all the advances in modern technology and research, they just don’t know what we should be eating.  And it’s probably always changing anyway, due to environment, availability, genetic factors… I just don’t think there is a one size fits all when it comes to nutrition.

One thing I have noticed, is that none of these articles mention the calories in, calories out argument anymore.  I think research is finally moving away from this theory, that for a huge portion of people, doesn’t work anyway.  It’s going to take a lot longer than that to make the general public realise this however, based on the myriad comments that follow these articles from people who clearly know more than science when they arrogantly state that the only way to lose weight is to restrict calories and to exercise more.

I shouldn’t read the comments.  It always makes me angry, people can be so opinionated and small minded on matters that often they don’t even have any experience with.  It reminds me of a time I was having a few drinks with friends, a couple of them guys who were the ‘eat anything they want and never gain weight type.’  For some reason the topic of weight loss came up and both these men, in very smarmy tones I might add, started talking about the only way to lose weight was calories in, calories out.  You could eat whatever you wanted, as long as you restricted the calories and you would lose weight.  As someone who had been counting calories for years, with no results other than constant hunger, I was understandably annoyed by this.  I didn’t say anything, I knew these men were the type who’s opinion couldn’t be swayed, but as one of them had seen my daily struggle and just how much calorie restricting I did without any weight loss results, I was also hurt.

I know plenty of people, who are absolute stick figures, both men and women, who eat whatever and whenever they want.  I also know plenty of people who don’t eat much at all and yet seem to put on more and more weight every time I see them.  It is my opinion, based on my own personal experiences, that calories in, calories out is a complete waste of time.

Take That Sugar Film for example.  In 60 days, Damon gained 8.5kgs after going from a sugar free diet of approximately 2300 calories a day, to a sugar laden diet of 2300 calories a day.  He maintained his exercise throughout the experiment, the only difference was the type of food he was eating.  The most interesting part about the food he was eating was that it was still relatively ‘healthy’ by the standards we are given these days by health authorities.  Low fat foods, packaged cereals, muesli bars and the like, all things we are encouraged to eat.  He didn’t spend his experiment gorging on junk food and soft drinks, kept his calorie count the same and yet he gained a huge amount of weight in a short space of time.  Not to mention the health issues he encountered.  When he went back to his sugar free (low carb high fat) diet, it didn’t take him very long to lose the weight again and with it, his health improved.


I wrote a post My Thoughts On Calorie Counting last year after a discovery period for myself that calorie counting was never going to work for me.  It was during my Elimination Diet that I really realised this.  When I started the diet, I was keeping track of everything I ate in the MyFitnessPal app, which is essentially a calorie counter, but also a food diary.  The first few days, despite all my planning, I was eating less than 800 calories.  Not good as we do need calories, it’s how we survive.  I was also hungry all the time, obviously, so I made a concious effort to up my calories.  After a bit of trial and error, I got myself up to about 1800-2000 calories a day, a lot more than the 1200 I had been eating using the app for the three months leading up to starting the diet.  I wasn’t hungry all the time anymore and the best part?  I was losing weight, fast.  I was eating more than I had eaten in a long time and the weight was falling off.  The only difference?  I was eating whole foods, unprocessed, just real food.  No sugar, no preservatives, just natural goodness.  Plus my health, both physical and mental was improving.

In my opinion, calories in, calories out is outdated and for me personally, doesn’t work.  I know I’m not alone in this opinion.  There are plenty of success stories, such as people on Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, of people effectively using plans that when broken down are essentially calorie counting but there are also plenty of people who these programmes haven’t worked for, who have found success in other ways, by cutting out sugar, or gluten, or trying FODMAP or any of the other ‘Fad’ diets out there, once again bringing us back to the simple fact that we are all different and when it comes to weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight, that there is no one size fits all solution.

Smiles and Sunshine



2 thoughts on “Calories In, Calories Out

  1. “I was eating whole foods, unprocessed, just real food.” Not an expert or anything, but one the key culprits in weight gain out there is corn syrup. Since turning vegan, My SO and I spend a lot of time reading the ingredient lists (can they find a smaller font?). It’s in just about anything processed (inc. things like hamburgers in fast food joints). (And my guess is, that when people cut out sugar, they can’t help but move toward a more whole food diet.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ingredient lists are ridiculous! And yet we’ve spent years ignoring them! Definitely agree about corn syrup/sugar. I bet you feel amazing since being vegan too

      Liked by 1 person

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