Why I Don’t Count Calories

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“How many calories should I eat each day?” is probably the most common question I’m asked.

Unless there is an absolute clinical need for it, my response is always the same: “You’re not going to count calories.”

Consequently, I’m often met with a confused expression, which leads to the “Why?” conversation.

This is why…

What Is A Calorie?

A calorie is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.  What you should understand here is that we use this (somewhat outdated) measurement to determine the amount of energy that a given food provides.

Let’s give this some context.  One 330ml can of Coke is 139 calories. One serving of almonds (approx. 20 almonds) is 139 calories. It’s fair to say they are comparable in calories, meaning they provide the same amount of energy.  So, if a can of Coke has the same calories as a serving of almonds, why don’t we just “taste the feeling” and have diets filled with carbonated sugar?!

The Answer:  NOT ALL CALORIES ARE CREATED EQUAL!

Let’s take a closer look at where these calories come from. A serving of almonds contains 6 grams of protein, 1 gram of sugar, lots of healthy fats, and 3.5 grams of fibre. Almonds are also high in calcium, magnesium and vitamin E.  However, a serving of Coke contains zero protein, zero fibre, 35 grams of sugar (yikes), and negligible nutrition.  And let’s not forget those dubious artificial additives.

It’s All About The Biochemistry

Our bodies react very differently to calories from different sources. They may go through similar digestive processes, but the biochemical reactions triggered in the body can be completely different.

When you consume a can of Coke your body quickly absorbs the fibre-less sugars.  In turn, the glucose spikes your blood sugar, which stimulates insulin and signals your body to store fat.  As a result, this raises triglycerides (essentially fat in your blood) and blocks leptin, one of the hormones which regulates appetite.

Leptin and Satiety

Leptin is responsible for signalling to your brain that you’re full up.  However, if the brain doesn’t receive this message (and it won’t if your blood sugar is constantly spiking), you are likely to continue eating – or drinking!  This explains why people who eat a lot of refined carbohydrates experience the feeling of “never being full.”

Consuming 139 calories from almonds triggers a different biochemical reaction.  This high fibre, high protein, low sugar option barely registers an effect on your blood glucose.  Subsequently, leptin kicks in to trigger satiety and the end of a nourishing snack.

When my clients stop counting calories and focus on nourishing their body with REAL wholefoods, they experience a rapid improvement in their overall wellbeing..

Rather than counting calories, I recommend and support a plant-based, whole-foods diet. Of course, we all have our foodie faves (hellloooo chocolate), and that’s okay because we’re human and it’s all about balance!

The bottom line is, if you maintain a diet that’s highest in fruits & vegetables, plant-based or lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats, your body and waistline will inherently reap the benefits.

Stay Wild!

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