Counting Calories is OUT!
When I tell my clients that they never have to count calories again, a perplexed look comes over their faces.
We have been so conditioned that calorie counting is THE WAY to do things that considering another option might sound crazy at first.
So, I encourage you to keep an open mind with me while reading this blog post. You just might learn a new and liberating way to navigate the world of food.
Despite what you might think, even though I was a professional athlete for many years, I was NEVER exposed to any real nutrition education during my nearly 20 years in sports. Pretty crazy, huh?
You’d think that all Olympians and/or high-level competitive athletes would have some kind of formal nutrition training, but that was not the case for me or my fellow high-level athletes.
My mindset about food was always “Well, I work out a lot, so I don’t really need to worry about what I eat.”
While I definitely don’t advocate for anyone to “worry” about what they eat, I am passionate about people learning about the powerful role that food can play in their performance and health. And, one of the biggest myths I’m out to bust up is the idea that calorie counting is “the” way to reach your healthiest self.
Here are 3 reasons calorie counting is becoming obsolete.
#1 All calories are NOT created equal.
To illustrate this fact, let’s compare having a doughnut in the morning to having a full breakfast. Depending on the kind of doughnut you choose, it can contain anywhere from 250 to around 500 calories. A FULL breakfast of two eggs, three pieces of bacon, and some potatoes can contain the same amount of calories. However, the even bigger issue is the astonishing difference in the sugar content between these two very different breakfasts. A doughnut can contain as much as 20 to 30 grams of sugar, while the sugar content in the aforementioned breakfast of bacon and eggs is next to nothing.
Let’s also not forget to mention that the full breakfast will actually FILL YOU UP for a sustained period of time, whereas the doughnut will wear off much more quickly, leaving you hungry and probably reaching for your next sugar fix.
#2 The chemicals in our food supply have a major impact on our bodies.
The food industry, in my opinion, is on a slippery slope right now. Between genetic modification (which I will break down in another blog) and the chemical agents that have become staples in our food supply, I don’t know what will be next.
My girlfriend and fellow corporate wellness expert Lauren Morelli Hooper likes to call these chemical-riddled foods FRANKENFOODS. These foods are not real, not natural, and not recognizable by your body. I’m talking about pink and blue cereal, bright red and pink energy drinks, and much more. These additives are calorie-free, yet taxing our bodies in ways that we aren’t even fully aware of yet.
As an example, let’s look at diet sodas, which have ZERO calories. However, the impact of the chemical sweeteners found in diet sodas and other diet, zero-calorie products on inflammation is not a zero. In fact, it’s rather high. Natural medicine guru Dr. Axe says that these “fake sweeteners cause symptoms that range from headaches and migraines to weight gain and even more serious conditions like cardiovascular disease.”
Further, did you know that at least 11 food ingredients that we consume in the U.S. are currently BANNED outside of the U.S.?
That’s right. There are food colorings and additives (zero-calorie ones) that permeate U.S. shelves, mainly in processed foods, that are BANNED in other countries.
#3 Fat, the highest in calories of all nutrients, is not typically THE THING making people fat.
So, the numbers aren’t what’s important here – the quality of the food is. Excessive carbohydrates and inflammatory nutrients like sugar are the troublesome culprits, not fat, but if someone is only looking at food from a caloric perspective, fat can get a bad rep.
Avocados, for example, are a wonderfully healthy food, yet there are about 230 calories in a full one. If you are consumed by the idea that only calories matter, you might avoid this fabulous fruit and miss out on its health benefits, such as improved brain activity, boosted immunity, and blood sugar stabilization (one of the keys to being lean).
Action steps you can take TODAY to end the antiquated calorie counting
#1 Start reading ingredient lists first!
Let go of the numbers for now and begin looking at the actual list of ingredients in food. This will give you a great indication of whether it’s a healthy product to purchase or not (of course, you’ll have to get familiar with ingredients and understand which ones are health-promoting or -diminishing, which I teach in my Champion Powered Plan & Challenge).
A few tips…
- If you can’t pronounce half the ingredients, you probably don’t want that product in your body.
- If the ingredient list is a million miles long, put it back on the shelf.
- The best foods for you will NOT have an ingredient list because they’ll be from either the produce or meat section of your store.
#2 Focus on increasing nourishing foods.
Focus on increasing nourishing foods like healthy fats, green leafy vegetables, colorful fruits and vegetables, and high-quality proteins, such as grass-fed beef, chicken, eggs, and any other game. Many of us are overfed and undernourished, which means that we are eating plenty of food but not enough micronutrient-packed foods that are high in health-promoting goodies like antioxidants.
List some new foods you’d like to try from these categories:
- Green and Leafy
- Colorful Veggies and Fruit
- Healthy Fats
- Quality Protein
When you are getting the majority of your nutrients from whole, unprocessed foods, you will be shocked at how much you can actually eat and maintain your weight and/or get leaner.
#3 Relax and enjoy your food!
Obsessing about food (i.e., counting calories) is stressful, and stress creates a kink in digestion and a rise in cortisol, both of which decrease your ability to get lean and stay lean. When you follow Action Step #2, there is no more need for calorie counting or obsessing over your food plan.
Try instead to be present when you eat.
Being mindful and present are the best gifts you can give yourself in relation to your food. Enjoying your meal, sharing your meal with others, and having a commitment to your health through your food is a fantastic foundation for health AND for an optimal physique.