Stop Counting Calories

This article from is a powerful read about some of the myths we may believe surrounding counting calories! The way we look at, think about and understand food and our relationship with it is a crucial component to being successful on your health and fitness journey.


One cup of grapes: 60 calories. Three Oreos: 160 calories. One half-cup cereal: 220 calories. Sound familiar? You’ve probably tried counting calories to lose weight—and maybe it even worked. At first, anyway. Over time, though, those pounds climbed back on because of one important point: “Calorie counting doesn’t work!” says Jonathan Bailor, author of the new book, The Calorie Myth. In fact, it’s one of the worst strategies you can use when you want to lose weight.

“I used to count calories, too—but I’d try to eat 6,000 a day because I wanted to bulk up,” says Bailor. A personal trainer at the time, Bailor’s clients were mainly women over 35 who wanted to slim down, and his advice to them was the same as what he gave himself: Count calories, but stick to 1,200 a day to lose weight. The results weren’t good for anyone. “I was getting sick and fat, and these women, even on such restricted diets, were also getting sick and fat. I stopped training because I realized that advising them to count calories was actually hurting them.”

Bailor says he noticed a disconnect between research and what experts—including him—were teaching others about counting calories, which led to his book. We talked to Bailor about five popular calorie myths you should forget you ever heard.

Myth #1: Calories are everything.

Yes, calories exist—they’re essentially a measure of how much “energy” a food contains—and if you eat too many you will gain weight. But they’re not the whole picture—not even close. Case in point: “I can sell pink slime laced with high fructose corn syrup, shrink the serving size down to 100 calories, and tell you it’s healthy because it doesn’t have many calories,” says Bailor.

Myth #2: All calories are equal.

Your body doesn’t treat all calories the same way. High-quality calories come from foods that are rich in nutrients, like broccoli, leafy greens, avocados, nuts, chicken, eggs, and grass-fed beef. They fill you up quickly and keep you full for a long time, says Bailor. They also trigger the release of hormones that tell the body to burn fat—your body has to work harder to break down fiber, versus processed foods.

On the other hand, a diet filled with processed foods, added sugar, and refined grains aren’t inherently satisfying, so you’re more likely to overeat. They also prompt your body to store fat, he says.

Myth #3: 3,500 calories = 1 pound.

Unfortunately, your body doesn’t run on math. “It runs on biology,” says Bailor. The reason you can’t cut out a daily 100-calorie latte and lose 10 pounds (or won’t necessarily gain 10 pounds if you start drinking one every day) is because calories are only a small portion of the equation. Your body works hard to keep you in a set weight range by regulating your appetite and metabolism through your hormones, genes, and brain. If you eat too much one day, your body would burn more calories and lower your appetite to compensate. The lesson? If you overeat one day, the key is not to freak out and continue to overeat. That will make you gain weight.

Myth #4: Cut calories to lose weight.

Dieting only tackles the symptom (e.g., you need to lose weight) rather than the underlying cause (e.g., what’s keeping you from being slim). Think of it like a clogged sink, says Bailor. “What if your plumber came in and said the cure for the clog was to stop using your sink?” It fixed the symptom (the sink’s not going to overflow) but not the cause (what’s causing the clog?). The cause of that clog is—you guessed it—eating poor quality foods that throw your fat-burning, appetite-taming hormones out of whack.

Myth #5: Eating 1200 calories or less will make you slim.

Actually, says Bailor, “counting calories leads to failure 95.4% of the time—and often leaves people fatter.” He notes that he sees many menopausal women consume 1,000 calories a day and yet, they still can’t lose weight. If you starve yourself, your body slows down your metabolism and burns muscle rather than fat. Start eating normally again after a restrictive diet, and you’ll gain more weight because you have a pokey metabolism that can’t do its job.

The bottom line on calories:

When you eat healthy foods, you don’t have to count calories. As long as you feed your body what it needs, it’ll take care of the rest, including keeping you at a healthy weight. So relax about the math and focus on quality over quantity. High quality foods include non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, mushrooms), nutrient-dense proteins (seafood, low-fat plain Greek yogurt), and whole-food fats (avocado and flax seeds). One thing they all have in common? You don’t need a nutrition label to tell you they’re healthy.

I would love to hear back from you if this broke through any food falsehoods you had!

Yours in Health,

Tanya X

P.S. If this busts some myths for you and you want to learn more visit: to join us for our 40-Day ReBoot Challenge. It’s a great way to start off 2019 fueling your body with the right kinds of food and exercise so you can live for health and energy!

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