Why Counting Calories Makes you Fat

We’ve all heard the advice of “watch what you eat!” when it comes to losing weight.

I know it, you know it, and we’ve been counting celery sticks, skipping the salad dressing and reading the nutritional labels for years to keep our calories down. 

It makes sense, right? 

If your body is a machine, then if you supply it with too much fuel (food) then you get fat. Decrease the food supply and you should decrease your size.

This seems very straightforward. You may even see some success with counting calories, losing weight and feeling great.

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that long term, it doesn’t work.  

When you restrict your calories long term, it’s a failing strategy because most of the time that weight comes back.

It may not be right now, may not be in a year, depending on your body and your DNA, but it will happen. 

Why does this happen?

Well, the conditions you’re putting your body into - limited calories - Is a condition your body is always watching out for, and that condition is famine. 

Seriously., your body thinks there’s a food shortage. That your hunter gatherer self has exhausted the last of the tubers and nuts and berries and there’s no game to hunt, so it is going to do what it needs to survive.

The main focus? Conserving your body mass so it can keep functioning. The other focus? Be ready to eat food to make up for lost time.

What does this result in? A sluggish, tired body that also is not shedding any pounds, as well as a ravenous appetite that is harder than ever to control.  

When you restrict your calories, you are literally fighting against your body. And you’re going to lose in the long term.

Yes, you may have some success short term, but you’re going to slip up or have health issues or stop seeing results at some point - and then the weight will come back. 

Your body is very good at something called homeostasis, which is a fancy word of self regulation.

You experience the body doing this every day - balancing your blood sugar levels after you eat something, increasing your heart rate when you exercise, making you thirsty after you eat salty food and tons of other little things. 

Your body is just doing its job - it wants to keep you functional and alive.

It doesn’t understand that you want a flat stomach and toned legs and arms. 

The problem isn’t the amount of calories you’re consuming or that you’re not active enough. The problem is that you’re trying to go up against a system that is rigged against you

Knowing this, the question then becomes how do you lose weight? If you can’t cut calories or exercise your way to a skinny fit body, then how do you do it?

The answer isn’t to starve yourself or to punish yourself. You just have to understand the game to win it.

That’s where the keto diet came in for me. It stopped the hamster-wheel cycle of starving and losing followed by binging and gaining. You’re not counting calories on the keto diet (just carbs) and you’re not starving yourself. Your body doesn’t think that it’s a famine - it is very well fed- and will start dropping pounds of fat before you know it. 

So stop thinking about calories and start thinking about what it is you eat. Quality, not quantity of the food that you eat is what is important, and it will determine your health and future.

If you’re interested in learning more about the keto diet, check out the beginner’s guide to keto here!