The first thing I tell my clients is to stop counting calories.
Why would you do that, Pascal?
Most of you who are counting calories for weight management assume it’s an exact science. However, there are a few reasons why tracking calories in your food is a flawed approach.
- Calorie counting is not exact. The calorie counts on food labels and in databases are averages. Research shows that the true calorie content of what your eating is actually significantly higher or lower. The range can be from 12%-18%. Why? Because food companies can use any of 5 different methods to estimate calories, so the FDA allows for inaccuracies of up to 20%. So “150 calories” actually means 130 calories.
- We don’t absorb all of the calories we consume. Some calories pass through us undigested and this varies from food to food. For example calories from nuts vary widely from only 68% for almonds to as much as 95% for pistachios.
- How you prepare food changes its calorie load. Cooking your food generally makes more of the calories available for absorption, and food labels don’t always reflect that. Chopping or blending your food increases the amount of calories absorbed.
- Individuals absorb calories uniquely (and variably). Our own individual gut bacteria can increase or decrease the calories we absorb. People with a higher proportion of one type of bacteria absorb an average of 150 calories per day more that those with another type of bacteria.
- People aren’t great at eyeballing portion sizes. Studies show that people mis-measure about two thirds of the time, so it’s easy to accidentally consume a lot more calories than you intend to.
So because of all these factors, calorie counting may not be worth the effort.
Here’s a solution. Since most people think that controlling portions means counting calories, but I think there’s a better way.
Use the much easier Hand Measure system.
Your hand is proportionate to your body, its size never changes, and it’s always with you, making it the perfect tool for measuring food and nutrients – minimal counting required.
1 serving of protein = 1 palm
A serving of veggies = 1 fist
A serving of carbs = 1 cupped hand
A serving of fats = 1 thumb
Boom and there it is!
This system is easier than counting calories and nearly as accurate. Pay attention to results and tweak as needed.
Energy balance and weight management can seem complex and a little overwhelming at times. At Clarendon Fitness, it’s our mission to make figuring out what your food needs are for your specific goals a lot easier.
Women and men in our Coaching Programs learn how to balance their food intake and activity levels to facilitate weight loss and health improvements in sustainable, long-term ways.
Visit us at ClarendonFitness.com today.