It's hard to argue against the merits and science of counting calories. If the calories burned exceeds the calories consumed, then we must used stored energy (fat cells) to balance out the equation.
However, life is not lived in a chemistry lab.
We understand that a calorie is a unit of measure for energy, 4.184 joules, or the amount of energy required to heat one gram of water, one degree Celsius at standard atmospheric pressure. I remember burning gummy bears in high schools science class quite well.
Instead of test tubes and Bunsen burners, we have stomachs and digestive enzymes. Things aren't quite as controlled in the world as they are in the lab. For this reason alone we believe that it's just too crazy to count calories. There are a lot of sites and calorie counter apps that make counting calories easier, but it's still excessively challenging to live your life constantly balancing thermochemical equations.
Calorie counting can be biased as to the type of calorie consumed and from where that calorie came from. We all know and feel far less guilty about consuming 100 calories from an apple versus the tantalizing mistress known as chocolate.
Calorie counting can also overlook when calories are consumed. Calories consumed at the beginning of the day, before or after workouts, are much different than calories consumed at midnight while your watching Netflix to all hours of the morning. You know you've been there.
"Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper."
From a holistic perspective, calorie counting focuses your time and energy on what not to do. On what not to eat. It puts you in a mental state of deprivation and want instead of abundance and feeling satisfied.
Use your powers for good and focus on these 3 things:
- Eating a lot of nutrient dense foods
- Drinking a lot of water
- When you eat starchy carbohydrates
Nutrient dense foods, sometimes known as fruits and vegetables, help regulate proper function and health of your body all the way down to the cellular level. Lean proteins and fats are also essential but fruits and vegetables are king when it comes to vitamins and minerals per calorie consumed.
Life in and out of the gym puts stress and trauma on your muscles. For the sake of convenience and time, we often substitute away from nutrient dense foods. We reach for processed or prepacked foods because that's all "we have time for." Commitment and a little planning can go a long way. That's why we advocate to focus on what do to, versus what not to.
Eat fruits and or vegetables with every meal and with every snack.
Even better than a diet focused on nutrients and nourishment, is a diet that takes advantage of the season. When fruits and vegetables are in season, they're at peak nutritional value!
Explore winter recipes from some of our favorite sites for ideas and inspiration:
Similar to a calorie of fruit being more desirable than a calorie from candy, eating starchy carbohydrates at the proper time is more desirable.
We go into more details here: Best Time to Eat Carbs, but by limiting carbs that spike our blood sugar to breakfast and before/after workouts, our body is able to use those calories in the proper way. Nutrients are shuttled into the muscles for repair versus being stored as fat.
Leave the micromanaging to your overbearing boss from work. Enjoy your food and your time by never counting another calorie.
Final Note: Vodka and diet soda is not a "calorie free" drink. Next time your here this politely explain that there are 7 calories per gram of alcohol.