Why Counting Calories is a Ridiculous Way to Lose Weight-Think!

Welcome back to our regular blog where we try to answer many of the questions we are asked by our customers or team members or share our thoughts on different areas of how we can all try to live a healthier and happier active lifestyle!


This week we wanted to discuss why so many people get stuck and demoralised  by becoming obsessed counting calories...


So, let's start by asking you what do you think calories were?


Would you probably say something like, “oh, they are those things that are in food and if you eat too many of them, they make you fat…”



Basically, that's true.


But it's a little hard to understand what a calorie is.


Because you can't see them in your food, you can't pick them out of your food, you can't push them to the side of your plate.


So basically, what is a calorie?


It's a measure of the energy that's in the food that you eat, and every activity that you do every day requires energy, whether it's your basic metabolic processes, like thinking and having your heartbeat and your lungs breathe, to all the activities that you do, it all needs fuel, and it all requires energy.


That energy has to come from the food that you eat.


Photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels


So, all calories really are is the energy that's locked up in the proteins and the fats and the carbohydrates that you eat.


Now, sometimes people will say, “Well, it's like the fuel that you put in your car.” And that's true. When you put fuel in your car, your car doesn't just automatically go, the fuel has to go to the engine and it has to get ignited, and it releases the energy that's in the fuel.


The exact same thing happens when you eat, you have proteins and fats and carbohydrates that have energy stored up in them in the form of calories.


Once you digest your food and metabolize it, then that energy is available to your body and you can use it.


So when you eat protein or you eat carbohydrate, every gram of protein or carbohydrate has four calories per gram, and every gram of fat that you eat has nine calories.


So the calories and fats are very concentrated.


And that's the reason we say if you're watching your calories, you want to be careful about how much fat you eat, because you have a lot of energy in the form of calories stored up in fat.


Now you might be thinking, “Well, if calories are giving me energy, then should I just eat more of them and I'll have lots more energy”.


Well, it's important that you've balanced your calories meaning what goes in and what you expend every day through your activities and so forth. need to be unbalanced in order to keep your weight in balance.


Because if you take in too much energy, too many calories, guess what?


You're going to store those in your reserve fuel tanks, on your hips and your thighs and your belly!


So, not all calories are equally fattening.


Calories of donuts is not the same as a calorie of kale right!?


It's just not, that's just common sense.


But yet, we try to pretend that they're the same.


So if it's not about calories, it's really about our hormonal response to those calories, which is completely different depending on the different foods that we eat. But it depends on a lot of different things.


Calories is a very simple measure. And that's really what is appealing about it. Because not only does it tie together all different foods in a single measure, but you can also tie in things like exercise.


These sorts of things are very appealing to companies that sell sugary beverages, for example.



So they can say, Okay, if you exercise, then it's okay to drink sugar sweetened beverages because you've just exercised BUT there's a fundamental flaw in this whole energy balance equation, the energy balance equation says that body fat equals calories in minus calories out.


So what we take from that is that we assume that if we simply reduce the amount of calories we take in, that we're going to reduce our body fat.


But that's not actually true. That's not actually what the equation says.


So there's actually two parts to it the calories in and calories out.


So the question really is, if you reduce your calories taken in, does your calories that your body expend stay stable?


And the answer is no!!!


And we've known this for about 100 years.

So you can look at studies done in 1917, where they take volunteers and they reduce the number of calories that they eat by roughly 30%.


Then they measure their basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of calories that they're burning on a day to day basis. What you find is that the body has reduced its energy expenditure by about 30%. So if you're taking 30% less calories in and your body is using 30% less calories, then you're not going to lose any body fat, which was the whole point of the exercise.


This is really the failure of this sort of calories in calories out model in that they're not independent variables.


The calories in and calories out are not independent of each other.


They go up and down together.


So simply focusing on the calories leads you to fail in your efforts to lose body fat.


Your body burns calories, much like a car burns fuel.


But as most of us are painfully aware, some cars just don't get the same miles per gallon. So how do we burn calories more quickly?


A common misconception is that your genes determine your metabolic rate.


In fact, we often blame our slow metabolism for our inability to keep our weight under control.


While there are differences among individuals in their metabolism, the main factor influencing how many calories you burn each day is your lean body mass.


So the truth is that your metabolism is largely in your control based on how much protein you eat and the exercise you do every day.


You can maintain or increase your metabolism with a diet that supplies the amount of protein your body needs, coupled with a reduced calorie diet and regular exercise.


When coupled with strength training exercise, protein can help your body build muscle.


And if you also reduce your calorie intake, you can reduce body fat.


As you increase your muscle mass, your metabolic rate will also rise.


That's because every pound of fat free mass on your body burns about 14 calories per day.


And that's just at rest.


Now it's true that your metabolic rate will slow down a bit.


When you cut your calorie intake.


Your body will try to conserve the fuel it has when it knows that it has less of it.


But this is a small change.


We can offset this small change by burning more calories each day through a healthy active lifestyle.


Engaging in 30 minutes of activity every day will increase your daily calorie burn and help to maximize your metabolic rate.


For added nutritional support, try Herbalife herbal tea concentrate a refreshing tea that contains caffeine which can boost your feeling of energy as you change your diet. It tastes great hot or cold and comes in a convenient ready to mix powder. The energetic feeling makes a great substitute for carb heavy snacks as you stay on a calorie reduction program.

Have you ever wondered what’s the connection between metabolism and calories?


Metabolism is one of those words that people toss around a lot, but aren't necessarily sure what it really means.


When we talk about metabolism, basically, what we're talking about is the total number of the chemical reactions that take place in your body every day, and the calories that are required in order for that to happen.


So for example, for your heart to pump, for your lungs to exchange gases, for your brain to function, all those basic processes that your body needs to go through in order just to keep you alive.


Those functions require calories.


So that amount of calories that you burn in 24 hours, that represents all of these processes that your body is undergoing, is your total metabolism.


Or sometimes you hear it called your metabolic rate.


Now the metabolic rate term is a little confusing, because it sounds like it's something you can speed up or slow down.


That's not really the case, you can't necessarily make your body burn calories more quickly.


Or let's say if you were trying to keep yourself from losing too much weight to make your body burn calories more slowly.


But the rate is really the term that we use that represents the total number of calories, again in 24 hours that your body needs in order to keep these basic processes going.


So why do people blame their weight problems on their metabolism, they'll say, “My metabolism is too slow”!


Well, again, what really matters is how many calories you burn in total.


So it really isn't about how fast or how slow you burn your calories.


It really has to do with how many calories you burn in 24 hours.


And that can vary from person to person.


So let me explain that.


Why do some people need more calories to do metabolic work than other people do?


Well, first of all, body size has a lot to do with it.


If you think about it, the larger a person is, the more cells they have, the more total cells you have, the more energy or calories it's going to take just to keep those cells functioning.


So larger, people generally have higher metabolic rates and burn more calories in 24 hours than smaller people do.


The other big factor as far as how many calories you burn in 24 hours has to do with your body composition.


And that's because your muscle mass, your lean tissue burns more calories per pound or per kilo than your fat tissue does.


So body composition plays into metabolic rate, people who have the same body size, the same height the same weight but different body compositions will burn different amounts of calories in 24 hours, someone with more lean body mass will burn more calories in 24 hours than someone who has less.


The third thing that can affect your metabolic rate is your age.


And this is primarily because as people get older, they tend to lose lean body mass and pick up body fat.


So again, since your lean body mass is what's burning calories, if you slowly lose that over time, your metabolic rate is going to drop a little bit.


Gender also plays into this too, for two reasons.

Men generally have larger body sizes than women do.


So we already talked about that.


And the other thing is that men generally have more lean body mass as a proportion of their total weight than women do.


So those two factors are going to affect it.


So when it comes down to it, what can you do to influence your metabolic rate?


There's two important things.


One is to do enough strength training and resistance training to build up your lean body mass because again, lean mass burns more calories at rest than fat mass does.


The second thing that you can do is make sure that you eat enough lean protein to help you maintain or build up your lean body mass.


In other words, it's a combination of a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise for a healthy active lifestyle.


Did you know that Herbalife Nutrition was responsible for a groundbreaking clinical study which actually confirmed that drinking protein rich meal replacement shakes leads to a better way for weight management than limiting calories alone!!!



It was conducted at a University in Germany.


The clinical study was held using Formula 1 Healthy Meal replacement shakes.


To look at the effect of different levels of protein in the diet on weight management is a really significant study, as it is the first of its kind to be conducted in Europe using the European formula for this Herbalife Nutrition product.


It was conducted over a 12 month period, with more than 80% of participants staying until the end.


This gave really robust data.


The study involved 110 people who were overweight, they were randomly assigned into two study groups.


One group used protein enriched meal replacement shakes, the other group consumed the same amount of calories but from conventional food containing a standard amount of protein, no protein shake.


So overall the study confirmed that drinking protein rich meal replacement shakes leads to a better way for weight management than limiting calories alone.


Our study also showed that those who had higher protein intake are considered to be at a much lower risk for a variety of common health problems associated with being overweight compared to the conventional diet group.


Herbalife Nutrition used the European Personalized Protein Powder product.


An abstract or short summary of the study has been presented at the European congress of obesity in Geneva, the global Conference of the obesity society in Phoenix, Arizona, and the German Association for the Study of obesity in Freiburg, Germany.



We really hoped you found this article interesting and thank you once again for joining us if you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out to us at info@nutritionleaders.co.uk  or subscribe to our regular newsletter and get our latest special offers and a copy of our FREE E-Book "10 Secret Steps to Wellness"

Wishing you all the very best of health and happiness!

Much Love Stephen & Karen xx

Nutrition Leaders UK



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