Despite a growing shift towards more nutrient-dense, unprocessed and whole foods in the wellness community – there remains a lack of clarity around calories. What are they? Should you be tracking your daily calorie intake? Is eating healthy as simple as calories in vs calories out??
Here’s why we don’t believe in calorie counting and what you could do instead to help achieve your health goals. We hope this article helps you ditch the stress, confusion and guilt around food – and instead find a more sustainable long-term approach to nourishing your body!
4 Reasons To Ditch Calorie Counting
1. Counting Calories Prioritizes Energy Intake vs Nutritional Value
Did you know that Calories explain units of energy? A calorie is a unit of energy equivalent to the heat energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1°C.
While this measurement accurately depicts the energy content of food, it neglects the many micronutrients found in food that are beneficial and essential for your health. In other words, if we focus only on calories, we may miss out on consuming essential micronutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants, fiber, and more.
With a Calorie-counting approach, you could eat 2,000 Calories/ day from highly processed, fast foods and be “on track” with your goals while missing out on key macro and micronutrients. This method may lead you to avoid high-calorie foods that are nutrient-dense and nourishing for your body – such as nuts, seeds, avocado… and our delicious + satiating healthy snacks! A snack with higher calories that contains healthy fats, fiber, and protein is going to keep you satiated and fuelled for longer, as opposed to a low-calorie carbohydrate rich snack which is more likely to spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry soon after.
Bottom Line: focus on nourishing your body with macro and micronutrients, and you won't have to count calories! The quality of the ingredients in your food are so much more important than the number of calories – this is why we highlight our ingredient list on the front of all our packaging, rather than hiding it on the back.
2. Tracking Calories Results in Ignoring Your Hunger Cues and Not Trusting Your Body
Everyone’s daily energy requirements are unique – activity levels, basal metabolic rate, life stage, weight, and gender all affect your total daily energy expenditure! For those who menstruate, even the phase of your cycle can affect your body’s daily energy needs.
Adhering to a calorie-restricted diet may cause you to ignore your body’s hunger or satiety cues – resulting in under or overconsumption of food. When we take calorie counting out of the picture, we can instead listen to our body and trust that when you feel hungry – it’s time to eat, and when you’re feeling full – it’s time to stop.
3. Calorie Counting is Not Effective for Weight Loss Long Term (if this is your goal)
If weight loss is your goal, tracking calories may work in the short term… but long-term, it’s hard to maintain. You will likely regain any weight lost while eating a calorie-restricted diet. Studies have shown that popular calorie-restrictive diets do not work for most people, with individuals beginning to gain back the weight they initially lost after ~ 1 year. Following a calorie restriction does not solve the underlying problem – whether that is lifestyle choices, a health condition, or challenges with body image or emotional eating.
4. Takes Fun and Enjoyment out of Food
“Food is not just fuel. Food is about family, food is about community, food is about identity. We nourish all those things when we eat well.” - Michael Pollan
We could not agree more with this sentiment! Food is so much more than fuel – it is shared experiences, traditions, culture, family, celebration, connection, memories… and so much more. When we focus on calories, we take away all the fun and enjoyment of sharing a nourishing meal with friends or family.
Swap Calorie Counting for Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is the practice of using both your physical and emotional senses to be present while experiencing and enjoying the food you're eating. Paying attention to your internal cues when eating has many benefits! Increased gratitude, feeling more satisfied, and enjoying the experience of eating are all advantages of practicing mindful eating. In the long run, mindful eating will also encourage you to make choices that feel good for your body.
When we tune in to what our bodies are telling us, we become more aware of our eating habits and how they make us feel. As a result, it becomes easier to change your behaviour and swap processed, fast food for more nutrient-rich, whole foods that will nourish your mind, body, and soul!
Nutrient Dense Snacks You Can Feel Good About
Need some nutrient-dense snack ideas that will keep you satiated with fiber, fat, protein + essential vitamins and minerals? You've come to the right place! Here are a few of our favourites – but you can find many more recipes on our blog, Instagram, and TikTok as well:
- bananas or apples with almond butter and berries - nut butters are high in healthy fats + protein, so balancing them with a carb will help stabilize any potential glucose spikes.
- nomz energy bites (made with 4 simple ingredients: nuts, dates, cocoa, sea salt) - our favourite balanced sweet snack that is naturally sweetened with whole dates. Dates contain fiber, while the nuts in our bites provide healthy fats and protein. Eating these as a snack will satisfy with your sweet tooth without spiking your blood sugar!
- superfoods smoothie - add a scoop of daily nourish to balance out carbohydrate-rich fruit smoothies – daily nourish has a great balance of fiber, fat, and protein to ensure balance blood sugar!
Calorie counting prioritizes energy intake vs the nutritional value of food – leading to potential nutrient deficiencies and unsustainable habits long term. In addition, tracking calories causes you to ignore your natural hinger and satiety cues – resulting in a lack of trust in your body. Calorie counting is not effective for weight loss long term (if this is your goal), and truly takes all the fun and joy out of food!