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5 Reasons Why You Should Stop Counting Calories

5 Reasons Why You Should Stop Counting Calories

How many years have you been dieting? If you’re like most people who pursue weight loss, you probably have dieted for a very long time (and have very little to show for it). Riddle me this: why would you choose to continue a failed strategy for months, years, or even a decade? As Albert Einstein said, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The problem? Restricting yourself to a strict diet is a band-aid solution that does nothing to develop positive behavior change. Behavior change might not be sexy, but it is necessary if you want to achieve your ideal body weight. Most diets depend on calorie-counting, which is a dreadful activity that sucks the joy out of eating. Here are 5 reasons why you should stop counting calories.

1. Your caloric needs estimate is probably wrong.

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body burns at rest. In truth, this number isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good since your BMR only accounts for approximately 70% of your daily caloric burn, with the other 30% being determined by your activity level. Your metabolism is affected by a wide range of factors, including your gender, age, body type, stress levels, nutrition, hormones, amount of sleep, and more. With so many variables at play that could cause your metabolic rate to vary from day-to-day, it is unlikely that any caloric needs calculator will give you an accurate target to aim for.

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2. Calorie counts are often inaccurate.

Nearly 1 in 5 restaurant calorie counts are wrong to the tune of a 100 calorie underestimation. If you eat out several times a week, this could make all of your calorie-counting meaningless in a hurry.

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3. You are underestimating your portion sizes.

Could you tell the difference between 6 oz. and 8 oz. of beef? Could you differentiate between 1 cup and 1/2 cup of pasta? Are you painstakingly measuring each and every portion size of your home-cooked meals? Even if you could guarantee accuracy, do you really want to subject yourself to such a tedious activity for the rest of your life?

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4. Caloric quality > Caloric quantity.

You have probably heard the saying “a calorie is a calorie,” but new research suggests that might not be the case. For example, our bodies expend more energy (burn more calories) when digesting beans than cereal. All calories are not created equally. Every macronutrient has a different effect on your metabolic rate and how fulfilled you are after every meal. Have you ever noticed that if you eat a steak, you are happy and full for many hours, but if you eat a slice of pizza, you’re hungry again within 2 hours (despite the fact that the pizza probably had a lot more calories)? This is the stark difference between a high fat and high carb diet. Fat takes longer to digest in your body than carbs regardless of calorie count, so your best bet is to focus on eating natural, healthy fats that will satisfy your body, making it less likely you will overeat.

5. Counting calories is stressful.

Have you ever eaten more calories than you were allotted during the day, proceeded to beat yourself up for your judgement, and felt stressed out and depressed? If so, you need to stop counting calories right now because you are merely creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for yourself. Stressing out over your diet is counterproductive, because stress is directly tied to weight gain.

Eating should be about pleasure and nourishment (not math and restrictions). 

Stop counting calories if you want a healthier relationship with food without stress and frustration. Don’t turn the wonderful act of eating into a math equation. If you want to lose weight, you do have to make sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean eating has to be devoid of pleasure or fun. Focus on eating natural foods like lean meats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Have that delicious treat full of carbs on occasion, but make it the exception (not the norm). Slow down at the dinner table and be aware of the fact that your hunger signal doesn’t typically turn off until 20 minutes after consumption. Be a mindful eater who regularly asks yourself, “am I nourishing my body or am I depriving it?”

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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