Stop Counting Calories

If you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight

If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight

It’s about calorie balance 

It’s about exercise 

It’s about not eating too much 

It’s about diet and exercise

A calorie is a calorie

We have all heard these things, but it never worked for us. Why?

Because it’s not just about calories, it’s about food.

In this article I will show you:

  • The calorie conspiracy
  • How calories are calculated
  • Why the food industry wants you to count calories
  • A better alternative to counting calories
  • How to lose weight without counting calories

The Calorie Conspiracy

A calorie is a measure of energy. In food, a calorie is the amount of energy that your body could get from eating and drinking.

But not all foods are digested and absorbed in the same way. Processed-fast-junk food and whole foods are all very different and all are made of different chemical bonds.  

“A calorie is a measure of how much energy is stored in a food’s chemical bonds.”

source What is a calorie? – Emma Bryce

But the food industry want us to think that processed-fast-junk food is healthy, just like whole foods, and that a calorie from fast food is the same as a calorie from homemade food. 

But it’s not, and while some people know this, a lot of people still believe the calorie fallacy.  

Despite counting calories, we continue to gain weight and lose quality of life. Something is wrong! 

Why a calorie is not a calorie

Two simple examples in which we will compare foods, based on calories: 

Orange/Banana and Beer

One orange (49 calories) and one small banana (90 calories) total 139 calories. A bottle of the most-sold beer in the U.S., Bud Light beer (16 oz), contains 146 calories. The calories are almost the same, but the effects and the energy you feel after eating or drinking these foods are completely different.

If you have one orange and one banana for breakfast every single day, that’s probably one of the best breakfasts you can have. But, if you have one bottle of beer every morning, with almost the same calories, you will not have enough energy for the next few hours, and you certainly develop an addiction after just a short time.

bud light beer 16 oz calories

Bud Light Beer Calories

Orange navel calories

Navel Orange calories

small banana calories

Small Banana Calories

 

Oh, but this one is easy because its’s alcohol!

Alcohol is a source of energy. In fact, it is high in calories, but if you drink too much you will certainly end up feeling sleepy, and if you do it every day you will most certainly develop an addiction. 

Yet, alcohol has calories but has no nutritional value, and is toxic to your body, just like refined fructose (like high fructose corn syrup). 

But we all know that alcohol is bad for you and we will not give it to any kid. 

But kids drink on average two high-sugar beverages per day, causing type 2 diabetes and many other metabolic diseases (more about that in my article Worldwide Sugar is Killing Us), because the food industry wants us to think that all calories are the same.

They are not. 

Refined fructose (type of refined sugar found in most beverages) has the same effect as alcohol in your body. It’s a toxin, it’s addictive, it makes your life miserable, and it’s killing people worldwide.

Big Mac (Processed Food) vs Homemade Oven Baked Frittata

This oven-baked frittata (a video recipe I’ve shared here) has vegetables (zucchini, pepper, onion, tomato), eggs, and cheese. It’s high in fiber and protein, and it contains 381 calories for one serving. 

A Big Mac burger (only the burger, not the menu with French fries etc.) is high in salt and sugar, contains trans-fats, and is high in cholesterol. That’s a total of 563 calories, with no nutritional value.

Oven-baked frittata nutrition facts

Oven Baked Frittata Nutrition Facts

mcdonads big mac calories

Big Mac Calories

Healthy homemade foods like my oven baked frittata provide you with nutrients from fresh ingredients, while a Big Mac is made with frozen and processed ingredients, only providing you with bad stuff (cholesterol, sugar, trans fats).

The question is not how many calories we eat, but where those calories come from.

How Calories Are Calculated

Calories are calculated based on the components of the food:

1 gram of carbs = 4 calories

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories

Carbs

We know that not all carbs are the same, we have bad carbs and good carbs. 

Example: White rice is a bad carb because it raises blood sugar (high glycemic index), has no fiber and gives no nutritional value (white vs brown rice example here explained here). 

Quinoa is high in fiber, sugar-free, and is a good source of protein. Quinoa is a good carb and is recommended for diabetics while white rice is not.

But, when you do the math to calculate calories, you always multiply one gram of carbs (without distinguishing between bad or good carbs) by four to get the total number of calories.

Fat

We know that not all fats are the same. 

Trans fats: This “bad” fat is well-known and documented to cause high cholesterol and heart diseases, which is why it’s been mostly removed from food. However, Big Macs still contains trans-fats.

Unsaturated fats: The “good” fat we all should have more of is found in: avocados, nuts, seeds, sardines and salmon (but only wild salmon, not farmed).  

Saturated fats: The “sometimes good, sometimes bad fat” fat. Depending on the source, coconuts contain saturated fat but are also high in fiber. Dairy foods are high in saturated fats but should be consumed in moderation.

Related: Not All Fats Are Created Equally – learn more about the different types of fats

Again, when calculating calories, one gram of fat is equal to nine grams, but the type of fat is not considered. 

Protein

Protein is found in plants, meat, dairy, and eggs. Not all protein is created equal as some animals are stressed all their lives and get high doses of antibiotics and hormones. Some studies show how a high meat diet, combined with low fiber, can cause colon cancer. 

Although the differences between plant and meat protein are hotly debated due to the meat lobby, once again when calculating calories one gram of protein (irrespective of the source) is four calories.

Alcohol

We know that alcohol is not good for us, and that’s why we don’t give it to children, and we don’t drink it before driving or working as it negatively affects our concentration and skills.

It’s commonly known that the calories from alcohol are different from the calories in a hot dog, or a quinoa salad, or an oven baked frittata.

Alcohol is not dangerous because of its calories. 

Alcohol is not dangerous because it causes obesity. 

Alcohol is dangerous because it is alcohol! 

Sugar is the same thing, it’s dangerous because it’s sugar, because of what it does to our bodies, and how it is metabolized by the liver.

Why the food industry wants you to keep counting calories?

In the last 30 years, the food industry has put all its money and effort into convincing the world that processed-junk-fast foods are healthy. We may like the taste, but we can feel right after eating that it’s not good for us. We know it’s not healthy. Why?

Processed food is made from refined ingredients. Fiber is removed (for a longer shelf life), too much salt and sugar are added (to boost flavor), and that all makes us sleepy, bloated and not satisfied; you can always eat more. 

Related: How the Food Industry make millions by removing fiber and adding refined sugar explained in my video here 

Meanwhile, homemade food is made from fresh ingredients and is high in fiber but low in sugar and salt. We finish our meals feeling satisfied and full, and without the need to eat more and more. 

Counting calories is highly promoted by the food industry so that we think fast food, junk food, and processed food are healthy, just like whole foods are. 

While whole foods give a high nutritional value, man-made foods (processed-junk-fast food) don’t provide any nutritional value.

When calories are calculated, it doesn’t matter if it’s a good or bad fat, or good or a bad carb, it’s all the same when you only calculate calories. 

It has nothing to do with calories, it’s all about the food you eat.

The Better Alternative to Counting Calories

You never have to count calories again. Instead, pick fresh ingredients: fruit, legumes, vegetables, seeds and nuts.

Prepare your own meals, prepare meals in advance, and take them to work with you.

Eat fruits for breakfast.

Have salads, vegetables and legumes for lunch.

Eat soup and light meals for dinner (my soup recipes here).

Avoid processed-junk-fast food:

  • Soft-drinks: loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup
  • Fruit-flavored yogurts: high in sugar
  • Breakfast cereals: made mostly of sugar
  • Salad dressing: high in sugar
  • Granola: again, it’s mainly sugar
  • Alcohol: high in sugar

Check Nutrition Labels

Quickly scan nutrition labels to understand how much sugar, salt and fat a food contains.

I recently published an article about how to quickly identify junk food at the supermarket. You can find it here.

How to Lose Weight Without Counting Calories

If you’re struggling to lose weight, or you don’t want to gain weight, these are by far the most effective and easy steps you can make:

 

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Fast-Processed-Junk Food is not the same as homemade food. It's about calories it's about the food who eat

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Diogo has lived and worked in many places around the world including Madrid, Berlin, São Vicente (Cape Verde), Indonesia and Macau. Traveling, he says, is the best way to... click here to continue reading

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