Why You Should Forget About Calories

As if calorie counting wasn’t silly enough to start with, it’s actually impossible. Why? Because the number of calories printed on a food item or a menu is bogus, as you’ll see in this 5-minute video. The number of calories printed is basically a number low enough that the manufacturer think they can get away with it.

Forget about the calories. Just eat real food.

If you need to lose weight: avoid sugar and starches. If that’s not enough here are a few more tips.

31 comments

  1. Doctor,

    Does mastication interfere with calories? I mean: if I masticate more I can use more calories of a food item.

    And cooking? Raw food are less absorbed than cooked foods?

    Adolfo

  2. Kirk
    It *sounds* so simple. But I promise you, I can easily and happily polish off an entire can of almonds, or walnuts, pecans, peanuts, what have you. If I ate whenever I felt like it, I'd never lose weight ... heck, I'd probably *gain* weight. I don't count calories, but I damned sure have to keep watch over quantity of food.
    Reply: #6
  3. Nana
    Does his numbers account for the fact that humans are not calorimeters? I remember doing this experiment in chemistry class, and we were told to remember that there is a certain discrepancy between the amount of energy you get out of a food item if you set it on fire, versus when you digest it. For example, wood chips contain a lot of energy, but a human eating wood chips wouldn't be able to extract any. So that might account for the smaller discrepancies, especially since those food items all contain plant matter.

    The vegan sandwich is WAY off though, there's no excusing that one. Unless it is actually mostly wood chips, which wouldn't surprise me.

    Also, this is arguing from a "calories matter" viewpoint. Personally, I believe hormones matter, like insulin :P

    Replies: #4, #5
  4. Sophie
    I could have watched a full hour of this!

    I never eat fast food or prepackaged food. This movie made me realize it is so wide-spread.

  5. Zepp
    Its alredy counted for that.. its cald Atwater factors!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atwater_system

  6. Jennapher
    Nobody should be polishing off nuts like that. Nuts are meant to be eaten in moderation.
    Losing weight is possible without counting calories. I haven't counted 1 calorie in 2 1/2 months. I just eat mostly meat, veggies and fat. I have a small bit of dark chocolate or some berries and I just keep losing weight (25lbs total now). Haven't even implemented a workout plan I just take 15 minute walks with a coworker to get out of the office. I would pull back on the nuts and you should see improvement. If you're looking for some good snacks I have a few to recomend that I like to indulge in;
    1)Beef Jerky
    2)Celery with cream cheese and sooometimes I put grapes on top
    3)Sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzerella drizzled with olive oil and balsalmic vinaigrette and dusted with salt and pepper... dried or fresh basil is good with it too ofcourse.
    4) Fried Queso Fresco dipped in marinara
    5)Carrots with ranch
    6)Bell Peppers dipped in Guacamole ORRRR Baba Ganoush... If you dont know what that is don't be intimidated it's very easy to make just google a recipe for it.
    7)Deviled eggs

    I hope these help, I know I personally HATED counting calories soooooooo tedious.

    Good Luck

  7. Maureen
    This you tube video is proof positive that the food industry tells us what "they think we want to hear" and then does exactly what they want - which to make their product more desirable through under reporting caloric values and probably the ingredients too!

    I personally don't think finite calorie counts are the issue in weight loss and more particularly great health. I do think keeping the demon that is elevated insulin in check goes a long way toward managing satiety which makes eating the appropriate amounts more likely rather then like a runaway train where you need and outside restriction mechanism - like calories to try and assess volume. Once your insulin is in check coupled with no grains or sugar the rest falls into place.

  8. Michelle
    For me, this film shows that we should eat fresh and food that we prepare ourselves. I think I've developed a paranoid personality since going LCHF; I truly do not trust anyone when it comes to food, not 100%.

    Finding the balance of food that is appropriate for your body to lose weight is not easy; you have to do a lot of 'tweaking'. I also find that you have to still employ the willpower that was needed on any low fat or calorie restricted diet (you're just less hungry), because we live in a toxic society (thanks Dr Lustig) and sometimes 'resistance is futile'. However, I now tell myself that a commitment of 1 year will enable me to lose my excess weight and once at the desired number on my poor abused scale (guilty of name calling) I can loosen my commitment and on occasion enjoy the foods I love (don’t panic, I only mean nuts, cheese, some fruit, wine, tubers and dark chocolate).

    1 year is not a long time in the greater scheme of things (I think the tone of my post reveals that I still have some doubts).

    Reply: #9
  9. Bernardo
    After admitting I'm not going to eat like "normal" people, ever, It's much easier to resist temptation. After two months with absolutely no exceptions I have no desire to "cheat" - i don't even see the point in doing so - and I completely ignore social pressure. It's also normal do feel frustrated when our weight stalls, and I think that's when a lot a people loose faith, but sometimes It is just going very slow, and If you don't stray from the path, you will loose weight in the long run.
  10. Bernardo
    This guy (in the movie) suggests that we need even more control? One more government department to control calorie counts on every food???? And everyone paying for it? Really?? What about the guy that sells homemade foods, is he going to have to spend big bucks to get his calorie count approved??

    That's the danger of trying to regulate everything, it never stops. I don't understand how a person can be for the "Soda Ban" and not see how similar it is to other very stupid ideas that follow the exact same principle.

    Replies: #11, #12
  11. FrankG
    On the contrary, I understood the take-home message to be that: if they are going to bother with enforcing the display of calorie counts, then they ought to at least ensure they are accurate!

    Otherwise what is the point? Are these labels becoming yet another marketing tool to mislead the public?

    I join the commenter above who see this as yet another reason to avoid any food that even needs a label... I go a step further and advise (anyone who asks me) that whenever I see a food that makes "health claims" this is to be treated like a red-flag and avoided it at all costs :-)

  12. FrankG
    What I don't understand is how -- when faced with yet another set of examples -- you think that food manufacturers, or the "free market", can be trusted to "self-regulate" dishonest behaviours which are designed to sell product; rather than to provide the consumer with healthy choices.
    Reply: #13
  13. Bernardo
    I don't think manufactures can be trusted, I'm 100% sure they will try to fool me. The "free market" is not about trusting corporations, is about understanding that the trust we put on institutions is most of the time naive and that we should follow our own judgement after informing ourselves. This way we can "vote with our dollars" and bankrupt corporations we don't like. Thanks for the internet for providing the means to do so. I don't like big corporations, I don't even think they should exists (but that's another story), but the government is just another headless monsters just like corporations. It wants to survive, it wants to expand, it wants to feed and, specially, it does not represent YOUR interest. Only you can do that.
    Reply: #14
  14. FrankG
    So much for "The Greatest Democracy In The World!"... sounds like it is now "every man for his-self"...

    ...best get an assault weapon and hunker down in my fallout shelter... yup!

    Reply: #15
  15. Bernardo
    You are seeing Black and White here and you are projecting your right-wing stereotype onto me. It's all about awareness of the dangers of trusting institutions that are really far from you, and although they claim to represent you, they don't actually do, because of how things work in reality. I'm for wealth distribution, I'm even for land distribution but I'm also for empowering the individual. I believe in the amazing potential the human being has and I don't like seeing it stolen by "experts" and institutions that try to impose their judgement onto others. Judgement that ultimately is always biased (if not totally defined) by monetary interests and politics.
  16. Jo tB
    Bernardo, I'm with you 100%. Don't regulate to death everything. It's a never-ending story. I decide what to buy and eat with my purse. I may be small as one, but if 270 miljoen people join me, that is one hell of a clout to the food manufacturers. Food manufacturers live because WE buy their stuff. What would happen to them if WE stopped purchasing from them. They would die.

    Everyone will argue that would kill the economy big time, because we are SO dependent on them. But are we? The buying stays, it only goes elsewhere, e.g. direct to farmers if they produce ethically. That way a lot of people profit, not just a few.

  17. yuma
    I can't understand why some people have this corporation/free market phobia yet have this blind trust in government.

    You think big brother is going to look after you and make the right decisions for you? HA HA HA!

    I have never in my life had a business entity put a gun to my head and force me to buy a product. Not so with government.

    As bad and as evil as corporations and the free market have been, they are nowhere near the maliciousness of governments, which are responsible for the deaths of 169,202,000 murdered in the 20th century and over 133,147,000 murdered before the 20th century, not including wars that were initiated by - you guessed it - the government.

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM

  18. FrankG
    I have neither a phobia of corporations and the free market, nor blind faith in "government".

    If you really think that democracy is no longer worth working at, then maybe it really is time for another revolution; instead of whining on the internet.

    Reply: #19
  19. yuma
    Hey FrankG, I'm not whining. I'm working on it:

    http://freetheanimal.com/2012/10/anarchy-begins-at-home-the-blog-seri...

    I see a day when you'll thank me.

  20. Lila
    Ok, if the food industry puts what ever they want on the labels and calories are bogus, what happens to carbs? Are the measurements accurate or are they bogus as well? So how do we know exactly how many carbs are we eating? Should we be counting carbs or not? I only eat real food. The only processed food I eat is dairy (cottage cheese, cheese, heavy cream and butter). But how do we know how many carbs are in each fruit and vegetable? I only eat fruit (a couple of pieces) as dessert.
  21. Lila
    A healthy and very filling snack would be HEAD CHEESE :)
  22. Lisa
    Great video.

    Soon Wally World will be selling Calorimeters so we can correctly input our food into cronometer or fitday! lol

  23. Lisa
    Lila I wouldn't rely on any of the counts. Both micro and macronutrients are going to vary depending on the soil and where they were grown. Perhaps the ripeness too. I doubt the USDA or any other organization is remeasuring the counts on a regular basis. Too much time and time is money.

    I think relying on the info provided is about as worthy as the caloric burn on the machines at a gym. Notoriously off!

    If I'm hungry I eat if not I don't.

    Just eat real food over manufactured food!

  24. Man he's got a bad diet! So much wheat/carbs!
  25. Robert
    Zepp. Calories counting can still be useful.
    Assuming you buy and eat the same food over the weeks, it could be useful to know if you are consuming 1200 bogus kcalories or 3600 of them.

    It is easy to overeat nuts, parmesan is calories dense and so on.

    Even a bogus count can make some people realise that they are still eating too much.

    Reply: #26
  26. Zepp
    Calorie counting is a blunt tool, but its a part of any diet calculation.. amongst nutrient calculation and others.. dont think anybody deny that!

    Its seems as it is easy to eat too little altso!

    And did you know.. if one is a grown up, and eats about 1000 Kcal a day and gain weight.. then one have to take math classes or see a doctor!

    Soo its an indicator of something.. one cant thrive on 1000 Kcal a day!

    And did you know.. again.. calories do counts.. its a measurment of energy that one need.. but its this calorie dogma that dont take any consideration of how different calories have different biochemical and hormonial affect in our bodys thats totaly wrong!

    There is no singel calorie receptor in our bodys.. soo one cant explain anything that happen in our body by pointing on calories.

    One have to split it to different macronutrients and there specific receptors and the outcome of consuming them!

  27. Robert
    My point is that it could be useful to have some sort of reference, even if the numbers are lower than reality.

    Parmesan cheese is supposed to be 390kcal for every 100g. If someone eats 700 grams of it during the day, this someone is feeding on 2730kcal.

    Maybe it is not the right number and maybe he will not use all 2730kcal, but at least he will be able to see that he is eating way too much (assuming that he is not doing any physical activity).

    Maybe this person is asking himself: why I don't lose weight? Now that he has a rough idea of how much he is eating, he will know that he should eat no more than 300g of parmesan.

    Reply: #28
  28. Zepp
    My major concern of calorie counting is that peopel eat to little.. and gain weigt anyhow.. and thats a major symptome of dyscalculia or a bad metabolism!

    I have no problems counting calories, or to evaluate there affect on our metabolism/apetite and overall well being!

    There is one major concern about calories.. if one get too litle one feels bad.. we are animals that need energy to feel good and to thrive!

    Soo.. if one feel bad, gains weigt and eat to little.. is the answer to ones problem to eat less.. noe I say its to eat real food, to nourish ones body!

    http://chriskresser.com/9-steps-to-perfect-health-2-nourish-your-body

  29. Bret
    Where to even begin...

    In places where food is made on the spot, like Subway, Chipotle, and even McDonald's, it is almost impossible to account accurately for some spot-on calorie count.

    The obvious answer to "Why don't we enforce the accuracy?" is this: we don't have the time or money. The less obvious answer is: because calorie counting is worthless to begin with.

    People love to denigrate and vilify the food industry for not being completely accurate on these calorie counts. My question is this: who is forcing any of us to eat packaged foods and fast food?

    Don't go buy something, whine and complain about it, then keep buying it, and try to blame the seller for all of your problems.

  30. Calories are just one measurement we can use. A young man man probably doesn't need to count calories, but a late middle-aged woman probably will want to occasionally. I can easily stall or gain, even though I eat very clean hflc diet. I love to eat, enjoy cooking, and can put away more than I can use if I'm not careful. I don't think calorie counting is any more or less useful than BG & BK monitoring, and I use those as well.
  31. wade
    Bulls***,calories do count u cannot defy the first law of thermodynamics

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