Losing weight is hard.
Counting calories sucks. It’s tedious and time-consuming. Worst of all, it’s highly inaccurate because there are too many moving targets.
But there is a such thing as energy balance. That means you’ll lose weight if up burn more calories than you take in. So why are some people “successful” at losing weight when counting calories?
Counting calories makes them aware of what they are eating and helps them focus on portion control. This is the biggest reason any type of counting or recording method works. It makes you conscious of what you are eating, which naturally translates to better food choices.
But calorie counting still sucks. It takes time and ask yourself “Self, am I really going to count calories, points or weigh my foods they rest of my life?”
That answer “NO!!” Whatever weightloss program you choose it has to be:
Sustainable Healthy for you and the environment, based around whole non or minimally processed foodEliminate nutritional deficiencies Something you can do when times are difficult or stressful.
Now back to why calorie counting is problematic. The 5 main problems:
Calorie counts of food labels can be off by 20%We don’t absorb all of the calories we consume. Some more, some less. Cooking your foods increases the calorie absorption. Raw foods have less calories and labels don’t reflect this. Determining your daily caloric needs based on weight loss equations can be off by as much as 50%.Calories burned during exercise is highly individual. The readings you are getting off of machines or your heart monitor are just estimates. These aren’t specific to you.
These five moving targets are what make accurate counting calories so difficult.
So what do you do? You have to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. But how can you find a way to lose weight without going crazy?
Wouldn’t it be great if there was an approach that naturally auto-regulates appetite and teaches you portion control?
Here are the three steps we use with our nutrition clients to help them get results.
Eat slowly and focus on your food. Focus on food hierarchy: eat foods with the highest fiber and water content first in your meal. Follow portion selections meant for your body.
EAT SLOWLY AND FOCUS ON YOUR FOOD
This sounds really simply and kind of stupid, but it does work. Why? The stomach only holds about 500 calories. If you eat more slowly you have a chance for your stomach stretch receptors to identify you’re full.
This process takes about 20 minutes. So if you chew thoroughly and slowly, not only will your digestion be better, but you will actually “feel” full and prevent you from overeating.
Think about how many times you were starving and ate too quickly , only to feel like you were going to burst at the end of the meal. If you had eaten more slowly and taken your time, you never would have overeaten.
Eating slowly also allows you to actually taste your food. When you are eating too quickly or are distracted, you don’t taste your food and are prone to over eat more. This is where the point of “focusing on your food” comes into play. Don’t eat while driving, in front of the TV or when you are angry. You won’t taste, digest or absorb your food well. Eat slowly, in calm environment. This is the first step to beginning to auto-regulate your appetite without counting calories.
FOOD HIERARCHY: FOCUS ON HIGH WATER AND FIBER FOODS FIRST IN THE MEAL
Remember we said your stomach only holds about 500 calories? Well, if you eat foods that are high in water and fiber first in the meal this helps to take up space in the stomach but doesn’t provide a ton of calories.
What are these foods? Think fruits and vegetables. You should be eating them anyway, so eat them first. Raw or cooked it doesn’t matter.
This is what we refer to as “food hierarchy of the meal.” This ends up crowding out space so you can’t overeat or over eat poor food choices as badly. Check out this diagram of the stomach and how the spacing works.
This is the problem of eating processed foods first in the meal and eating them too quickly. You can easily cram a lot of high calorie, low fiber / water food in under 20 minutes before those stomach receptors kick in blowing your calories and portions out of the water.
FOLLOW PORTION CONTROL FOR YOUR BODY
This is the final step to auto regulating your appetite without calorie counting. Eating high fiber, high water foods slowly before eating junk or processed foods will help prevent overeating.
The final step is eating portions designed for your body. This guide from Precision Nutrition outlines this beautifully.
By learning what an actual “serving size” is and being conscious of it, you are more likely to lose weight. Simply because it makes you mindful of what you are eating and keeps calories controlled hence helping fat loss.
So to recap…
Eat slowly. Eat high fiber and water foods first in the meal. Follow portion sizes designed for your body.
Easy. Now you have a three step plan to lose fat without counting calories.
This works for most people to help them get to their goals. Now specific meal plans and really drilling down on calories become important for those getting wanting to get super lean (like physique competitors etc.) But most people won’t need this step, especially at first. Focus on these first three basic principles first.
These are just some of the things we teach our nutrition clients in our coaching programs. Either in person or online we have help hundreds of clients over the last 15 years get results by teaching them how to eat without tracking or following meal plans.
But some of you might be thinking:
“ I need something more specific.”
“I want more detailed information tailored to me.”
“I already track my calories and want to know how fast my metabolism is.” It’s time to take the next step with personalized coaching. You’ll lose weight and keep in off once and for all by learning how to apply these these principles, step by step. Backed by science and proven by experience, you'll get the exact system I've used with in-person clients for fat loss, mobility improvements, and to reshape their bodies. They lose weight, eat great food and still have a life.