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The Calorie Counting Conundrum

CalorieCounting_Cover“Eat 1500 calories a day to lose fat”

“Follow your macros and it doesn’t matter what you eat, just hit your numbers!”

“If it Fits Your Macros”

If only life was that simple. If only everything in life could be broken down into a mathematical equation(wouldn’t relationships be easier!). Unfortunately when it comes to a subject as complex and multi-faceted as nutrition and more importantly, actually eating, the truth is a little more complex than simple numbers.

Numbers can help us when identifying deficiencies and massive over-eating. For example, if you feel terrible, have low energy and poor recovery and we look at your diet diary and see you are eating 750 calories a day from green vegetables then your problem is solved!

Other than these situations though, there are a few problems with this counting approach. Here are a few:

  • Many people who count calories and macro use it to perform “dietary magic” – they swap 300 calories of health carbs for 300 calories of junk food -this isn’t a problem if done occasionally but when it becomes a daily occurrence, it becomes a serious problem.
  • People begin to look at numbers rather than food – 30 grams of processed soy “facon” is the same as 30 grams of protein from salmon. News flash – it isn’t.
  • Numbers are often very, very wrong: Some researchers estimate that calorie counts from foods can be 20-30% off from what is mentioned on the label. In the context of a 2000 calorie diet, this could put you up to 300 calories a day off – a significant amount.
  • Inter food variances are huge – there is a massive difference between a freshly picked apple vs one that has being in storage for 3 months.
  • It encourages people to see low calorie as healthy – low calorie foods are often seen as healthy when the reality is they often aren’t.

The Other Big Issue

Numbers don’t tell us one major thing: They don’t tell us how the calories are working in the body.

There are many different factors that determine how nutrients are absorbed in our body. These include:

  • How fresh/whole or processed the foods are – Some studies have shown that people absorb more calories when the food is processed
  • How healthy our intestinal tracts are
  • Our internal hormonal and cell signalling environment
  • Our activity levels – higher activity levels lead to higher amounts of nutrient partitioning – more calories get stored and used for muscle gain and growth rather than storage.
  • The synergistic effect of each nutrient working in synergy in whole foods – whole foods have unique biochemical properties which allows them to act differently to processed foods, with longer absorption times and greater effects on satiety

Number’s don’t tell us much about a clients Internal environment

We always need to remember is that we are people first, not robots.

Numbers do not tell us why or how we are eating and why and how we are making our choices. This is a very important point to understand. We need to understand our motivations and drives towards why we eat the way we do in order to make ay effective long term change.

Now that we understand some of the issues with traditional calorie and macro counting, we need a new solution. The following method is a simple way for you to implement food portion control rather than calorie and macro counting. Remember, we don’t eat calories, we eat foods. We need to work with this for long term results and compliance.

We find using your own hands as one of the best tools for measuring food intake. It has many advantages over food scales and calorie measuring apps. It is portable, individualised to your own unique body size and is easy to make changes. Here is what is recommended

CalorieCounting_Points-01Protein – A portion of protein is approximately the size of your palm

CalorieCounting_Points-03Vegetables: A portion of vegetables is the size of your fist

CalorieCounting_Points-02Carbohydrates: A portion of carbohydrates is what can fit in your cupped palm

CalorieCounting_Points-04Fat: A serving of fat is the size of your thumb.

Now we can break this down into 2 different meals types: A anytime meal and a workout meal. All you need to do to get results is eat a workout meal before and after your workouts and an anytime meal any time after that.

Workout Meal: Serving of protein, vegetables, carbs and fats

Anytime meal: Protein, vegetables and fats.

Here is how you can divide it up for Men and Women

Men – Simply use 2 of each serving to get the ideal meal size.

Women – Simply use one of each serving to get an ideal meal.

This is the perfect starting point for most people. Remember, we don’t have a way of knowing how our body will respond in advance. This is where we need to make adjustments and ouse Observation Based Decision Making to change things and observe the response.

For example, if you are struggling to gain weight, you may add another cupped serving of carbohydrates or a another thumb of fats. If you are trying to lose weight, maybe drop a carb serving or a fat serving.

As with all of our advice and articles, simply implement and measure. We are sure you’ll find this approach to food control easy and effective.



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