How to Count Calories and Lose Weight-The Definitive Guide

Want to know how to count calories and lose weight?

Seems like everyone does.

how to count calories and lose weight

How to count calories and lose weight successfully? Forget the diet scale. There is an easier way.

And you probably want to do it fast. Yes we are all in a hurry.

Everyone wants to lose weight fast.

Why do you want to count calories anyway?

It’s a rhetorical question really because I know the answer. I have had this discussion many times.

You want to count calories (and reduce them) because:

You have been brainwashed over the years to believe counting calories (also called dieting) is how you lose weight.

While it is technically true that you must consume fewer calories than you burn in order to lose weight, a strategy of counting calories in an effort to reduce intake will surely fail.

I know this sounds counter-intuitive but in fact you know it is true. Because you have tried it before. Probably more than once. And here you are again contemplating some new diet plan. I don’t care what they call it. There are scads of diet products and plans and some have some really cool and inviting names. But if you have to keep track of calories eaten and stay under a certain daily amount, it isn’t going to work. I don’t care what they say or which celebrity is telling you (bold face lying) how it worked for them.

Why counting calories doesn’t work

  1. First and foremost, it sucks to do. It takes effort, knowledge of caloric content and it just sets up conflict with your brain and cravings. You are trying to turn off your desire for food with just pure willpower. This can only work temporarily if at all.
  2. Calorie counting is based on the philosophy that all foods are good if eaten in moderation. This is a widely held belief, “Everything in Moderation” you know. I hate to tell you but this idea is total crap.

There are 3 kinds of food and I’m not talking about protein, fat and carbohydrates.

  1. There are foods that are so good for you that you cannot overeat them. You can (and should) eat as much as you desire from these foods. An example is greens like spinach, kale or chard.
  2. There are are foods that are good for you but should be consumed in moderation. Many of your protein sources like beef, fish and chicken fall into this category.
  3. And there are a lot of foods that are just plain crap and you shouldn’t eat them at all. Not even in moderation. Don’t eat them, period. But, unfortunately, right now you are eating a lot from this group all the time. Stuff made from highly refined carbohydrates are in this group. Things like baked goods, pasta and bread (I’m sorry) and pre-packaged stuff. Just about everything that is in your pantry today and packaged in a box or a bag is likely not good for you.

Now before you go slit your wrist because you can’t live without bread or pasta, understand this: You don’t have to be perfect for this to work. You just have to make a dent in your bad habits. The bigger the dent, the better. You need to have more good days (where you eat well) than bad days (when you splurge and eat your goodies).

That’s it. Win more battles than you lose.

Here is the bottom line. The only way you will ever be successful with a weight loss program (long term) is by changing some bad habits you have. You must make lifestyle adjustments that can be maintained going forward. And counting calories every day just isn’t something that is feasible. So don’t try it.

Weight loss isn’t a math problem (counting calories); it is a chemistry problem (eating the right kind of calories).

How to count calories and lose weight fast and for good

There are a few ways to limit caloric intake.

  1. You can try to count calories and limit your intake to a number based on some mathematical calculations that make losing weight just sound too hard. Make no mistake, when you are limiting calories consumed by counting or weighing and reducing intake, you are eating less than you want. You want to eat more and these urges are very powerful. So this ends up as an exercise in willpower more than anything. And that is why your results are only temporary at best. The weight always comes back. Don’t apply math to a chemistry problem.
  2. Fasting is another strategy to limit overall calorie intake. You can fast one day a week for example but eat normally on the other days. This will limit calories consumed over time. There are many ways to integrate fasting into your daily diet but unfortunately, the unhealthier you are, the more difficult it is to do successfully.
    • Fasting is easier for people who don’t need it. If you are living on the Standard American Diet (SAD), like lots of highly refined carbohydrates, fasting will be almost impossible for you to do. If you are a SAD eater, your day is a series of blood glucose spikes, insulin responses and then low blood sugar crashes. The hunger pangs you get after your blood sugar dives demand more carbs immediately. Fasting will be painful at best.
    • If, however, you start to eat a better diet and your blood sugar swings are moderated, an intermittent fasting program can work well.
  3. Eat food that is both good for you and highly satiating so you eat less naturally. Now doesn’t this sound like a better approach? So simple. Eat stuff you enjoy and that also fuels your body with the nutrients it requires. There is no need to count calories because you stop eating due to fullness before consuming too many of them. This sounds like it may work. And it sounds logical. I like it.
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OK, test time.

If someone asks you how to count calories and lose weight, what do you tell them?
Tell them to pick door #3. Don’t count calories at all. That is the secret to controlling calories.

Counting calories sucks. It’s hard and certainly no fun. You are hungry all the time and thinking about stuff you want to eat. You will never win the willpower battle against your brain unless you change the source of your calories.

The addictions you have to sugar laden foods and high glycemic index carbohydrates are very real indeed. You cannot pretend you are not going to eat them by willpower alone. You have to substitute good tasting, nutritious and filling foods in their place.

It is the only way to a permanent lifestyle change that makes sense.

Don’t count calories, just eat quality sources of calories

If you focus on what you are eating, the amount you eat is naturally reduced.

You need to trade some (or a lot) of the crappy carbohydrates you are eating for protein and good quality fats.

This is totally a different mindset. You are not thinking about reducing intake. You are not weighing or measuring or calculating anything. You are just eating real, nutritious food and the calories take care of themselves.

Eat quality proteins from animal sources, fish, eggs and fowl. If you are a vegetarian or even vegan, this is harder to do but still can be done with legumes and other vegetable sources. Personally, I believe eating an omnivorous diet makes it easier to get balanced nutrition but that is just what works for me.

There is no one diet that will work for everyone.

You do have to perform some experimenting to find both what you enjoy eating and what agrees with your system.

Eat more quality fats. This is the one area where you often get tripped up. You have been brainwashed to stay away from fat and ironically this may be the biggest reason you are fat. You want to train your body to preferentially burn fat as fuel as opposed to glucose spiking carbohydrates. You have to eat good fats like coconut oil, olive oil, nut oils, avocado, butter and heavy cream (unless you have lactose intolerance issues) and of course the fat you get from eating animal and fish proteins as well as eggs.

Proteins and fats are things that fill you up and satiate your hunger. Your hunger gets quenched on fewer total calories when eating quality proteins and fats.

Balance your meals with quality carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits and you have a winning combination.

And incorporate some affordable supplements.

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Get your head in the game to win this battle

You do have to think a bit to make this transition to healthy eating. A lot of people get tripped up by trying to eliminate the bad stuff in their diet without replacing it with other good food.

So you can’t just stop drinking pop and eating cereal for breakfast and pizza for lunch. You’ll be starving. You have to replace those old crummy carb calories with good calories. Good protein; good fat; and good carbs. Pretty soon good quality calories will dominate your diet and hunger will subside. You will be satiating your hunger on fewer total calories.

This is how to lose weight. Focus on the chemistry, not the math.

The bottom line in healthy eating

Don’t think about how to count calories and lose weight. Think instead about changing the quality of the calories you consume. Eat real food from nature. Stay away from heavily processed and packaged grain-based carbohydrates. Cheap carbs are your enemy. Think about adding good fat to every meal. A little olive oil on your veggies or butter in your coffee (yes I actually do this and have grown to really like it).

Eat fat and lose fat. As odd as it sounds, it does work.

If you are the cerebral type and really want to understand what happens in your body when you eat different type foods, read this post. This guy really knows what he is talking about.

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Old Spartan

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About the Author Mark Fickler

Mark aka The Old Spartan and Over-50 Fitness Savior is a 61 year old coffee guzzling father of five wandering the outdoors around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mark works with Active Boomers wanting to squeeze back into their college jeans using his signature Spartan Method system.

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