Food & Nutrition Science

How a Calorie Counting Diet Can Negatively Impact Your Health

For decades, calorie counting has been more than a trend. In fact, it has now become a lifestyle for those hoping to drop a few sizes. Is calorie counting, however, one of the worst strategies for losing weight? That’s what Jonathan Bailor, author of The Calorie Myth, is saying, and he has more than 1,200 scientific studies to back him up. Whether you believe calorie counting is effective or not, I’m sure we can agree on one thing: counting calories takes the joy out of eating. So how can we get that feeling back?

The lowdown on the calorie counting diet

For as long as we can remember, calories have always been labeled as the enemy—but is that the reality? The truth is, the body craves calories for a reason; because we need them to function properly. So despite the reputation with which calories have been associated for years, it’s not calories that are the enemy; it’s the empty calories that are packing on the pounds and contributing to the obesity epidemic. 

“Rather than subscribing to the antiquated calories in/calories out model for weight loss and good health, focus on powerful, gene-altering, whole, real, fresh food that you cook yourself can rapidly change your biology,” says Mark Hyman, a practicing physician who wrote a contribution to The Huffington Post. “You will lose weight by getting your systems in balance, not by starving yourself.”


Empty calories vs. nutrient-dense foods

Pastries, cheese and ice cream all have their place—like the holiday dessert table or at the center of our cheat meal—not on our plates every day. But the reality is much of the American diet is lacking in nutritional quality. And because of this, Americans are consuming an unnatural amount of refined carbohydrates, solid fats, sugars and empty calories with little to no nutrient content. Perhaps without even realizing its true negative impact, and as a result, the obesity and diabetes epidemic is skyrocketing. 

On the other end of the spectrum, nutrient-dense foods—think nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meat, organic eggs—nourish our body with vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, lean protein and complex carbohydrates. With this healthy alternative, consumers can boost their metabolism, support the body’s detoxification systems and lower the risk of developing chronic diseases associated with poor diet and exercise.

So instead of advising your clients to consume diet-specific foods that promise to deliver a meal in a 100 calories or less, have them focus on consuming fresh, nutrient-dense food that supports weight-loss efforts in a healthy, sustainable way. Finally, in order for your clients to benefit from the long-term health benefits they will need to approach this as more than a healthy diet—rather, a lifestyle. While your client may come to you initially looking to lose weight, he or she will be pleasantly surprised to learn that consuming the foods our bodies were intended to will come with a number of other long-term health benefits as well.


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