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Is counting calories the best way to lose weight?
Written by Marty Kendall on July 20th 2020
Many people try calorie counting apps like MyFitnessPal. But the vast majority find it’s unsustainable due to a range of factors.

Here are top 8 reasons why counting calories might not be the best way to lose weight.  
Here are top 8 reasons why counting calories might not be the best way to lose weight.  
  • Counting calories may be fine if you’re a single bodybuilder who can pre-prepare everything. But most of us live unpredictable lives with family dinners, work lunches and impromptu parties that make it impractical to weigh and measure everything we eat all the time.  
  • While we can be disciplined most of the time, it’s those occasional meals (when your calorie tracking app isn’t looking) that undo all your hard work.
  • Even if you were able to weigh and measure EVERYTHING you ate, the data in your app rarely matches the foods you are eating. 
  • ​Your body also doesn’t ‘burn’ the food the same way that calories are measured in a calorimeter. Your calorie tracking app doesn’t account for the thermic effect of food that changes depending on the macronutrient profile of your food and the degree of processing.
  • ​Any calorie target from an online calculator is going to be inaccurate. Your metabolism is complex, and the amount of calories you require depends on a range of factors, including your muscle mass, exercise, stress and your sleep (not to mention pandemics and lockdowns, which restrict your movement).
  • ​Your energy expenditure changes from day to day. If you try to maintain a fixed calorie intake, there is a serious risk that your healthy appetite signals will become dysregulated as you try to push through hunger some days and overeat on others. 
  • ​When you suddenly slash your energy intake, your body quickly adapts to survive. Your metabolic rate slows. You produce less heat. You feel less energetic, and your involuntary activity will reduce and you “burn” fewer calories day-to-day than you used to. But, rather than enforcing an abrupt drop in calories, it’s ideal to slowly ratchet down your energy intake, but only just enough to ensure you continue to move toward your goals.
  • ​Eating is impulsive and instinctual. Your appetite ensures you seek out the nutrients you need. However, it also means that, despite our best efforts to limit the amount we eat, our appetite usually wins out in the end, especially if we continue to eat the same food that led us to be overfat in the first place. 
While energy is always conserved (yes, laws of thermodynamics also apply to nutrition), the factors on either side of the calories in vs calories out equation are incredibly complex and beyond our ability to manage accurately, even with the latest fitness trackers and apps. 
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