COUNTING CALORIES: Is It Necessary?

competitionGoogle the internet, read the latest weight loss books or enter the world of computer gadgets that offer guidance through electronic technology and you will see the following three answers to, “should we count calories?”
  1. No, it is unnecessary
  2. Yes, it helps us understand our caloric needs
  3. Maybe, if it helps you attain your goals
When all of the above choices provide successful solutions to different people, it should be very clear that the answer depends specifically on the individual and their ability to comply. Most people OPPOSE calorie counting because it requires effort, discipline, time, and comes with a learning curve. A better question to ask is, “when people learn how to count calories (and macronutrients {proteins, carbohydrates and fats}) and COMPLY by following the recommended calories, do they achieve better results LONG TERM? Studies reveal the same three answers as above.
  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Maybe
This translates into the pseudo-scientific answer, “IT DEPENDS.” As frustrating as this answer may sound, it is my experience that people searching for BETTER HEALTH are more inclined to succeed in achieving weight loss for the long term than those focused on actual weight loss and/or appearance. Once again, this differentiates between a “WANT” and a “PURPOSE.” A person who wants to lose weight to go to a high school reunion versus a person who wants to lose weight to regain NORMAL blood pressure without medication or NORMAL blood sugar without diabetic medication both share a similar “want”, however, with very different “purposes.” Once the reunion ends, what motivates the long term changes? “PURPOSE” provides the long term meaning behind the need for weight loss. A goal for better health is an ongoing project until the day we die. The source of motivation behind “PURPOSE” is the changing dynamic in quality living. Purposeful living provides a potential for freedom that simply “WANTING” can’t. Our wanting has not been able to successfully alter our patterns in life. We remain “attached” to the ball and chain (also known as the medicine cabinet) requiring this medication 2 hours after eating and this medication on an empty stomach and this medication with meals and this medication in the morning only or the evening just before bed. Every morning we are reminded how compromised our health is as we begin another day with a pill or powder that our doctors prescribe month after month.  Are these prescriptions designed to fix the ROOT CAUSE of our problems or maintain a chronic state of reduced health? If this reality doesn’t create a need for re-evaluating your current path in life, what about the side effects including WEIGHT GAIN? To change this path we need to learn to rely on ourselves. We need to turn to professionals for guidance rather than expecting them to take full responsibility to change us.
(1) In the beginning of the journey to weight loss, I encourage calorie counting. As we learn and understand the facts that work with our own bodies, the counting of calories may no longer be needed. When establishing a foundation of understanding, the basics must be understood and applied to achieve success. How can we reduce the “pain” of the learning curve? Use technology to reduce the time and effort required to understand your calories and macronutrients. There are many FREE programs that allow you to enter your foods which calculate for you the calories and macronutrients. To succeed, you must be willing to enter ALL foods EVERY DAY. If you make poor choices, be accountable to yourself by entering them in your program anyway. Do not restart your diary the next day in hopes of doing better. Without accountability there is reduced motivation.
(2) The next step is learning if a food is a Protein, Carbohydrate or Fat. To make this simple, I suggest we look at ALL foods as only ONE macronutrient. Look at the label on your food and see how many grams of proteins, carbohydrates and fats are found in 1 serving. Whichever one has the greatest number of grams, identify the food as ONLY that 1 macronutrient. For example: Peanut Butter, (Protein 8g, Carbohydrates 6g, Fat 16g) I am recommending you view this product as a source of FAT ONLY. You can easily make lists of foods you eat on a regular basis and place them in the appropriate category based on the above concept. This will make it much easier to determine the best food choices as the day progresses. NOTE: ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR LICENSED HEALTHCARE PROFESSION BEFORE FOLLOWING ANY SUGGESTIONS IN THIS ARTICLE. I suggest starting with a 30% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fat goal. Google each category for a list of healthy foods and create a list for each category.
(3) Always drink water BEFORE and AFTER each meal. Minimize fluid intake with the meal. This will teach you to chew your food more thoroughly helping with digestion. It is recommended that you consume 1/2 your weight in ounces each day. (Ex. a person weighing 200lbs should consume 100oz. of water.) If you want to lose weight you must rid your body of toxins and allow for the proper elimination of waste product. Dehydration competes with weight loss!
(4) Always consume a full meal with all the water recommended before turning to foods of lesser quality for taste and comfort. Counting calories does NOT mean giving up pizza, hamburgers, ice cream, etc…; it means incorporating them to satisfy personal needs WITHOUT compromising the nutritional needs of the body. By eating a full healthy meal FIRST, you will experience less need for poorer food choices WITHOUT a sense of deprivation! You will begin to push less healthy food away, because your body will be satisfied and reduce the hormonal cravings typically experienced.
(5) Search for PURPOSE and PASSION in life. The more meaning you finding in life, the less important food becomes. Happier people generally love themselves and treat themselves well.
(6) Finally, get on the scale each and every morning. Don’t worry if it has gone up or down from day to day. Water retention is a common cause of weight gain. At the end of the week, add the seven weight measurements from each day and divide by 7. This will provide a weekly average. Comparing week to week is much more accurate and motivating than day to day.

653b1_thyroid_weight_loss_information_drugs I

As a physician who has worked with many patients for many years I welcome any questions you may have to help you overcome the hurdles that have existed until now. This approach does not limit food choices. It provides guidance and educates the individual to provide a broader picture that compares beliefs with reality. Most people grossly under estimate their calorie intake. Learning what macronutrient each food represents and having the technology (free application or computer program) to do all the math makes this a realistic approach to long term success.
Advertisements

28 comments

  1. thanks lots of good points….kathy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to review the article. I know how hard you are pursuing your goals and know in time (with patience) you will improve the quality of your life. You have already come so far. Remain persistent while finding joy in life.

      Like

      1. thanks…it really helps with the community of WP and all the great input and encouragement from everyone and all the good info on the subject…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You have a lot of good points in there and I wish I had more self-discipline. I was doing fine for a few months and even lost weight, but as usual it doesn’t last and I weigh more now. Counting calories is one of my biggest stoppers. I hate doing it. Besides for me I have to watch the carbs more than the calories.I have learned this over the years. I don’t dismiss calories, I just consider carbs to be my biggest issue. What I prefer to eat contains carbs. What is healthier and/or doesn’t contain carbs is very expensive and I am talking about meat mainly. I love read meat especially and seafood. Doesn’t need breading to add to the taste and therefore no carbs. But I am partial to meat. We know my feelings on vegetables by now.

    I am too stressed now to do much of anything. I am struggling to make it through the day. I missed 2 days of psych meds and now I am not stable and suffering mood swings. Frustrating.

    What really helped me was when my son cooked dinner because he is trying to eat healthy and build his body up. He wants to be a personal trainer so he believes he has to be in shape himself in order to help others. But he has been working all different jobs and shifts and we have been eating out and I am eating one meal a day and junk food usually in the evening while I am sitting here awake instead of sleeping like most people.

    And this all amounts to excuses. I have plenty of them, just no discipline.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have learned in life that answers come to those when the time is right and not a moment sooner. Follow your heart and listen to those you trust. Answers are always present; we just need to find the key to open our minds.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. That helps calm me down some. I know that something won’t happen if we are not ready for it. I have too much on my plate (pun intended) right now to fully concentrate on my food habits or lack of them.:-)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Calorie counting is something I am absolutely too lazy and unmotivated to do. I figure as long as I’m eating in a healthy and sustainable way, that’s the best that I can do. I personally have always found calorie counting kind of obsessive and not something I really want to engage in. I do want to live a healthy life, but it’s not the only thing I think about all day. My goal each day is to always do my best in everything I do and that’s all I can really hope to achieve. But I’m keeping it real – I admitted a big part is being lazy and unmotivated to start doing something extra. I suppose I *could* do better but I don’t really care to at the moment…and I think that’s okay.

    I am interested in your perspective on my thyroid. I have read between the lines in several of your posts and comments that you aren’t the biggest fan of taking prescription medicine daily, but if you have a gland that isn’t working right, how else would you propose to fix it? Perhaps there are certain foods I could be eating to improve function, but I don’t think taking the medication is a bad thing in this case. I don’t want to become dependent on pills in general but it’s not like this particular ailment is within my control. In fact, I’d be scared to stop the pills, lose thyroid function, and try out a bunch of holistic remedies that may or may not work.

    Perhaps I should email you about this instead!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I, too, have thyroid problems and my chiropractor insists he can fix everything so we don’t have to take pills, but what I have observed is that he has this supplement and that one to sell that seem to me to be just another medicine basically. And those supplements are expensive.Do they work? Who knows, but I do know that my thyroid is not listed by my regular dr as something that can be fixed and not take medicine anymore for it. My Son-in-law had his removed really young and he will be on thyoid meds for life. Not sure about fixing something like that without meds.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The thyroid is a complicated subject. There are many different types of thyroid issues and they need to be handled differently. Many do require medications, but the quantity can be influenced through diet, exercise and stress reduction.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. We can’t get mine regulated. It has been a year or more he has been playing with it. Diet, exercise and stress reduction. It would help if he would at least talk about these things or send me to someone who can. He isn’t even worried about my glucose problem and I know we have talked about me switching drs already. I can’t take this stress. Probably half my problems would go away if the stress went away.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I certainly understand your sentiments regarding calorie counting. The purpose for this article was to provide a foundation for those uncertain where to begin the process (instead of a diet) and to provide a means to achieve weight loss without dietary deprivation. In general, people prefer easier methods (placing foods in different tupperware sizes, using weight watcher points, etc…) I have always been selective in approaches because I am interested in helping people achieve lifetime success. The right mindset is essential. If a person tells me they “hate” to count calories and are unlikely to do so, this approach (at this time) will likely fail. For this approach to work, the recipient will either be brand new to weight loss or have unsuccessfully tried repeatedly and is mentally ready to begin an approach knowing they have the support of a professional willing to help for no other reason than caring. It is difficult and requires (pat…patie…patien) the word foreign to someone’s vocabulary. 🙂 The saving grace is that this plan does not impose food restrictions, but I certainly understand the resistance some people express. It is certainly not the only approach, but offers a good balance of weight loss and healthier eating. I also understand your feelings when you say that you “choose not to follow this approach and that this decision is ok.” I believe each person has the ability and the right to be in charge of their own destiny and that doctors do not have the right to impose judgement. It is our job to simply teach and offer advice and hopefully to care about people. When and if you ever choose to change your mind, I simply want you to know that I am here for you.
      The thyroid issue is much more complicated and best handled through an email. You can reach me at jncthedc93@yahoo.com
      Thank you for expressing yourself so honestly.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. billgasiamis · · Reply

    G’day Jonathan. I used to count calories and found it quite tedious. What I did get out of it though which really balanced the boring side of counting calories and made it exciting for me was to learn that a chocolate bar had, 400 or more calories and that just 1 bar would mean that i had eaten a 1/4 of my daily calorie intake and that even after eating the chocolate i was still hungry. Counting calories educated me in what food I’d be best to avoid. I also discovered that it took 30 minutes of running to burn 400 calories from the chocolate bar. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent points about candy bars, calories and the amount of time one would have to exercise to avoid weight gain.
      Counting calories is so much easier today because the apps and computer programs do all the work. Anyone going to a nutritionist would be asked to bring a food diary for 2-3 days worth of eating. This is what I was basically referring to. The computer program or app will calculate the calories and macronutrients. All the person would have to do is tell the computer what they ate. The average person miscounts their calorie intake by over 1000 calories per day on average. The bottom line is an extra 1000 calories per day of junk food or healthy food will create weight gain. It is difficult to help adjust nutritional requirements without having an accurate basis. This food diary provides this information.
      In addition, many of us do tasks at work we find tedious, boring and dread. Many do these tasks for many years of employment without gaining promotions or salary increases (based on these tasks.) Even though we don’t like it, we do it. In other words, the only benefit to doing these tedious tasks is remaining employed. If keeping a computerized food journal results in healthy weight loss, better blood chemistries and a possible new outlook on life, this tedious act seems to offer better opportunities than the tedious tasks we are willing to perform at work. Something we can all think about.
      Thanks for the comment and all the support you offer. Your work on helping stroke patients is incredible. Keep spreading the word!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I greatly appreciate you passing this message along to your readers. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Stay healthy and happy!

      Like

  5. Being very short, I have to count my calories or I’m not doing well. I devour your articles, because I find that I usually almost always find a reminder or new info that I’ve been needing. I also work out regularly and know I’ll never be thin as a rail, but I’m okay with that. Oh, I love #5!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you sweet Rose! I am more concerned with a person’s state of physical and emotional health than I am with how they look in skinny jeans. I know lots of “rails” that are miserably unhappy and unhealthy. Many people truly believe that thin equates with happiness. Your approach to health sounds healthy and most importantly works for you. I like #5 also! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Working on No. 2. I don’t even get No. 5!! Just kidding, but seriously, while I know it helps to count calories, I HATE, HATE doing it. I agree with ScarletPen28, in that for me counting calories can trigger greater degrees of obsession with food. I do not want to spend more time thinking about what I eat!!!

    I do love this post, though, because I think it contains tons of good info and reveals how much you care and want to help others. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m not certain, but I think the concept of “counting calories” may have been worded poorly by me. The old method requiring each person to do the math was time consuming and tedious. With modern apps and computer programs, all people have to do is keep a food log. This helps with two important things.
    (1) Accountability- if it has to be entered, many people abstain from poorer choices
    (2) Health- if a person has blood chemistry issues (high blood sugar, high cholesterol, etc…) this food log provides an accurate basis to guide a professional to help make changes more likely to effectively correct the underlying problems. If a person believes they are eating well and even successfully losing weight, how can a doctor or other health professional make dietary changes if it is unclear what the patient is actually doing? The recommendations will be “blind” guesses at best.
    In this case, it is my opinion that people need to way the benefits and risks. I believe it is a bad idea to wait for problems to surface before making this type of change. Realize, people will continue to dislike the process, but now they will be “forced” to do it (if they want to avoid degenerating health problems.) To me, it is more appealing to do a task (even one that is tedious) out of choice (recognizing the benefits) than out of need.
    There is no right or wrong answer; there are only various opinions that help people decide for themselves. Thank you for your contributions to these articles. Your input provides 1 more opinion helping all readers concerned about their future and the methods they will utilize for weight control.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is better to be pro-active with our health, than to wait around for disease to overtake us. Your turn with HBP or T2D will not be fun, that’s the reality. Better to make the changes now, before being forced to do it. I wish I had been taught this philosophy as a child or young adult. Change is possible. Light bulb moments are possible. Finding what we need to get better is possible, but it takes active involvement on our part to make it happen, don’t you agree?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely!!

        Like

  8. The idea of minimizing fluid intake during a meal as a way to encourage thorough chewing is new to me. It took yrs of effort to get past the bolt-and-run habit forced on me by the short lunch periods in high school. Decades later, I still need vigilance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Americans are famous for putting a fork full amount of food in their mouths followed by a gulp of soda, juice, water or milk. They chew a few times and then swallow the load. This places a much greater strain on the stomach to break down food that the mouth did not completely break down. Minimizing fluid intake with meals forces the mouth to begin the digestive process more efficiently.
      Developing this skill, doesn’t take long. After food gets stuck in your throat a few times motivation kicks in quickly. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post, very informative

    Like

  10. I use Lose it and feel kinda guilty when I skip a few days of logging because there was no internet. Yet since am after healthy living and have been monitoring my feeding and weight some years now, I can know an approx good or Ok regiment for me … Thank you for this

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Short term deviation for a well disciplined person is unlikely to cause any problems. For the average person, however, loss of “habit” (entering foods) has a tendency to lead to older destructive patterns of behavior. This leads to the yo-yoing effect of weight gain accompanied by various disease processes.
      Entering foods is NOT a punishment. It is a method to OBJECTIVELY see how BALANCED a nutrition plan is and helps to provide quality information if changes are needed.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I started with a slightly different calorie set than you did: 40% protein, 30% fats, and 30% carbs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your macro numbers are well within a healthy distribution. There is no ONE right combination for everyone. These numbers also sometimes need to be “tweeked” based on lifestyle changes.

      BTW- I responded to your private message to me and never heard back. I completely respect ANY decision you make regarding your approach to health, but wanted to make certain my response wasn’t lost in your spam folder. If you wouldn’t mind, please let me know if you received it. Thank you.

      Like

Your comment can positively impact the lives of others.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: