Calorie Counting, Unfairly-Maligned Method Works; Easily!:
If you’ve seen any of the countless infomercials on TV or walked by any supermarket checkout,
You’ll know that Weight Loss is one of the biggest problems people face.
Fad diets are everywhere. Lemon-water-hot-sauce-cleanses; Keto, Paleo, etc…
And whatever madness Christian Bale is going through at the moment.
But one of the most-straightforward plans was a big deal back in the 70s.
No, I don’t mean margarine, I mean Calorie-Counting. And if a UVM team is right, that largely-abandoned “fad” could actually work…
The Voldemort Of The Weight-Loss World:
So counting calories was something non-crazy people only put up with for a short time.
And if you look at the plans of a few diet companies, they really try to simplify it for you.
It’s still counting, it’s just “points” instead.
But the short answer is the research team found that despite people’s initial distaste for it, calorie-counting Does in-fact work,
And people who use it lose weight, keep it off, and even experience some unexpected benefits as they progress.
Read on to find out more…
Dear God, WHY?:
So calorie-counting initially strikes people as onerous and complex,
And probably also pings their irrational math phobia that’s been lurking somewhere.
But it’s really based on a simple system like the kind you find at TDEE Calculators everywhere.
Within certain tolerances based on how your body & muscle-mass work,
You get a certain number of calories to eat every single day based on how much you burn.
This is generally a product of: Age, Sex, Weight, and Activity-Level.
Plug in your details, and the basic formulas kick out a number.
That’s what you get every day. One simple number.
Here’s The Hard Part:
Now after you do that simple math, the stuff that looks more difficult shows up.
Based on Nutrition Labels that were instituted well after the calorie-counting 70s,
You have to estimate what you’ve taken-in for everything you ate and drank over the course of a day.
Then you know if you’re over or under your daily allowance.
It’s just that depending on how and who prepares the food, that task could be very difficult.
And then, CalorieKing or not, how do you know exactly how much you’ve gotten?
Do you have the right measuring cups, spoons & kitchen-scales? Do they?
Especially since (huge secret, btw) Exercise doesn’t really burn that many calories,
And it’s HILAROUSLY easy to overeat.
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!:
And that’s where the new study comes in!
So just under 150 subjects did a study for UVM professor Jean Hardy.
In that work, they all went through the most-effective, yet most-disliked process of Calorie-Counting.
And then the magic happened!
In that 6 month period the subjects were on the program,
The most-successful dieters got WAY better at counting calories!
After month 2, they had essentially cut their calorie-counting time down by 50%,
But still checked-in to the study site with the same frequency,
At about 3 Times each day.
Counting In, Counting Out, Conscientiousness Counts:
And those people who checked-in the most, but managed to cut their time down by 50%,
Somehow also managed to rack-up the best weight-loss.
In 6 months, they lost 10% of their body-weight!
And this is where things get weird.
Because one of the big secrets about weight-loss seems to be:
It could really be more about Psychology than anything else.
So in-addition to the fact that calorie-counting proved to work again,
One of the more interesting things Hardy’s team found out was neither total time spent,
Nor amount of detail in records,
Were the keys to all of the most successful dieters.
It was actually The Frequency with which people checked-in that mattered.
Subjects who checked in at-least ~3 Times A Day were the most successful weight-losers of the group.
And the Opposite was also true, because those who waited until the end of the day to check-in only 1x,
Were the ones who didn’t lose much weight at-all.
The More You Practice, The Better You Get:
Now if you assume that time-spent would equal amount of detail-entered, you would be about right.
So if the most successful dieters eventually got so good, they only needed an average of about 5 minutes per check-in,
Then what is going on?
I think it’s at least 2 things:
1) They’re getting better at the procedure.
2) The frequency of check-ins means they’re internally self-regulating behind the scenes.
Because even-though most people eat 3 large meals a day and untold snacks,
They have no idea how many calories they’re getting.
Calorie Counting Eventually Becomes Second-Nature:
But if you commit to a counting-program you eventually find what is difficult at first gets easier with time,
The hidden bonus is, that as you get better but still remain committed to check-ins, you get less lazy in your math.
You are still unlikely to be perfectly-accurate in your counts, but you will be checking yourself.
BOTH at check-in time, And Also several times without thinking as you go through the day.
And I think it’s the Subconscious side of the skill-development that’s really working.
Apps Get You Started, But Your Habits Make The Progress:
Because you will look at the calorie estimates for what you eat and drink enough times,
That even though you don’t think your memory’s that great, your subconscious would disagree.
And you will probably remember them, or at-least a good estimate, just as part of practicing the discipline.
You will have used a computer to train yourself into becoming a “Natural Eater”.
-Especially since one of the big secrets nobody tells you you find out when you’re trying to hit a calorie-target,
The Secrets About Dieting & Appetite Nobody Tells You:
(Is that you really don’t need all those extra calories in the first place.
And you don’t actually miss them either.
The first 2 meals to 1 day are tough,
But then your body adjusts.
And you also find out that if you just Wait 20 Minutes, your body figures out that you’ve eaten.
And if you’re good, it’s Exactly the right amount and you’re not stuffed or actually hungry either.)
You Can Not Out-Exercise Bad Nutrition!:
So the government can tell you that you really have to get 30 minutes of cardio every day to stay healthy,
And you better do it, because the Obesity rate in the US is now at 40 Percent, up from 34!
But even though Exercise is really for health, it’s not that effective for weight-loss.
So take some encouragement from this study!
The most effective way to lose weight that you cannot mitigate with exercise unless you’re a triathlete like Lokelani McMichael,
Actually DOES get easier in just a month or two.
Close Counts In Horseshoes, Hand-Grenades, And Now Weight-Loss!:
And you do not even have to be perfectly-accurate at it.
Getting close to the right number, doing it in a reasonable time-window of 15 minutes-a-day,
And just keeping in the good habit of checking-in with yourself, or a tracking-app,
Really do work so well you can leave all the nutty fad-diets behind.
10 percent of your body-weight in 6 months is pretty good, no?
So get out there, get yourself a tracking-app, some measuring cups & spoons, and don’t be afraid to count calories on your way to that sweet, sweet, weight-loss!
Photo Credits: “Industrial Archaeology Machine”, by elxinside
• Source: UVM
• Source Study: Obesity – Log Often, Lose More: Electronic Dietary Self‐Monitoring for Weight Loss