Should you count them? Do they even count?

It seems to be one of the biggest debates when it comes to nutrition; whether or not you should count calories, or do calories even count? Is it more important to focus on hormones?

Well, let’s first get something cleared up. Calories definitely do count. In fact it is pretty much irrefutable when you look at the science that you need to be in a caloric deficit in order to lose weight and a surplus to put on muscle. So if you are serious about your results you definitely want to know where you are at.

There is however a few things you need to be aware of:

  • There is a lot more to the calorie in v out equation than most people realise.
  • Weight loss and fat loss are not necessarily the same thing. So simply looking for weight loss is not a good idea.
  • There are some limitations to the practice of calorie counting.
  • While you should be aware of how much you are consuming to optimise results, counting calories is not the only way to do this.

Now, all this being said, before you start even counting calories though there is one important consideration you need to make. I consider it extremely important for long-term success. That is, I wouldn’t advise do not try and attempt something you are not willing to do. Nor, from a coach’s point of view, should you expect a client to do something they are not willing to do. This goes for the nutritional plan, training and lifestyle behaviours.

So, the question must be asked before you go about counting calories; Do you really want to go through the process of counting calories in the first place?

Christian Thibadeau talks about if a client is more dopamine dominant, then counting calories will cause more stress whereas if someone is very anally retentive then counting calories could be a good thing.

What I have found is that most people do not enjoy counting calories at all. Those that do I believe fit into one of the following three categories:

  • Bodybuilders, physique models or people with a set goal in mind who need to know and be able to adjust precisely what they are eating. For these people I definitely get them to count calories and it makes my job as a coach a great deal easier. I also know they will do it.
  • People who are statistical by nature such as engineers, accountants, or mathematicians. They like to know exactly what is going on which is cool.
  • People who simply want to cheat and eat crap. They believe that as long as they don’t exceed their calorie quota they will be fine. Now while this technically may be true if you overeat the wrong type of foods this could lead to increased inflammation which can skew the calorie equation or cause health issues. So while they will get results short term, more often than not, long term they will be worse off. 

So, do I recommend calorie counting for my general clients? Simple answer, yes. If only for a few days at a time. If you are happy to go through the process of counting calories for longer, then that’s great. If you are not happy doing it long term simply do not have the time then don’t do it, but it does give clients a good understanding and often a wake-up call as to how much they need to eat in comparison to how much they are actually eating. Often they are overeating but sometimes they may even be dramatically under-eating. Both of which are not good.

The other process I recommend is to work with portion sizes. I calculate what those calories equate to portion-wise and find this is a lot easier and often therefore where I start with. It can be just as accurate once you have worked out the correct numbers.

I would recommend getting an experienced and qualified Coach / Nutritionist with proven results to help you work out your calorie and protein quota based on your lean mass, then determine the ratio of carbs and fats that would be best as an energy source. This should be based on your body fat, lifestyle, current training program and past nutrition.

Regular check ins and measurements will help you to tweak and manage dietary choices along the way and keep you on the road to success.

I hope this helps and wish you all the best.


Leave a Comment

Shopping Cart