Have you ever been hit in the face with a snowball? It hurts. So does jumping on the scales and seeing a number higher than you’d hoped for. And when that happens, what do we do? After consuming a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, we often turn to counting calories.
Counting calories has been the go-to method for weightloss for as long as we can remember. And sure, it’s boring and seriously tedious but it’s effective because numbers don’t lie, right?
Not quite. According to nutritional biochemist, Dr Libby Weaver, the energy in vs. energy out argument is far too simple.
“The discovery that there was a basic level of energy (measured as calories or kilojoules) required for the body to survive, and the subsequent creation of a mathematical equation that could calculate this, was groundbreaking in its day. In 1918, it literally saved lives. If you think about what was happening around that time, World War I was only just coming to an end and for many people, food was scarce.”
But herein lies one of the most fundamental problems. “Many inaccuracies and problems arise when we apply this calorie equation in more modern times. For starters, an equation that was founded on a minimum level requirement for survival is now used conversely to help people keep their energy consumption down.”
While it was revolutionary in its day, it does not take into account the complex bodily processes we’ve now uncovered and Dr Libby says, “If people believe that this equation holds the answers to their weight loss or energy needs, we need to address them.”
So if you’re still a slave to My Fitness Pal, prepare to unbuckle the chains, here are fifteen reasons that counting calories simply doesn’t work.
“In other words, the calorie equation fails to consider the bigger picture, physically, environmentally and emotionally, based on the world in which we now live. It is time for an update, as the foundation of nutritional philosophy — that the calorie equation is the sole determinant of body size — is completely outdated.” So what are we to do?
Dr Libby recommends: “Eat real food. Eat fat from whole food sources. Eat carbs from real food sources. It is easy to eat protein from real food sources, and, if it is animal protein, make sure that animal has been raised eating the food it is supposed to eat — not what humans have decided makes them grow faster — as well as being raised outside, partaking in its natural behaviours, and being cared for.
When you stop eating processed foods that interfere with your body’s natural rhythms and signals, you will get back in touch with what your body, not your tastebuds, wants.
Change your mentality, change the way you approach how you feed yourself to a focus on your health and energy, not your weight. Positive not negative. A focus on what you can eat, not what you are not ‘permitted’ to eat…[and you will] free yourself from a life lived in the fear of weight gain, calorie counting, deprivation and never feeling good enough.”
This is an extract from What Am I Supposed To Eat? Making Sense Of Food Confusion,
By Dr Libby Weaver, published by Little Green Frog Publishing.
If you’re struggling with food choices and confused by conflicting or overwhelming information, join Dr Libby on her latest tour, Food Frustrations: what to eat when food is confusing. For a full list of dates see here but if you’re in the Brisbane she’ll be with you tomorrow (Thurs September 14) so book tickets now.