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Does Calorie Counting Work For Weight Loss?

Let’s get this out of the best way up entrance.

Sure, calorie counting works for weight reduction.

  • The legislation of thermodynamics applies to everybody.
  • The “Energy In vs Energy Out” equation applies to everybody.
  • A caloric deficit is the underlying reason for fats loss.
  • A caloric surplus is the underlying reason for fats achieve.
  • Different elements additionally matter, however above all else… it comes right down to energy.

These are confirmed science-based details.

However you’ll usually hear individuals say this isn’t true. That calorie counting doesn’t work.

In lots of of those circumstances, it’s as a result of they’re attempting to promote you some bullshit plan, program, or complement that can one way or the other permit you to shed weight with out consuming fewer energy.

These individuals are the worst. Attempt to keep away from them.

“Calorie Counting Didn’t Work For Me”

However different instances, you’ll hear it from common trustworthy individuals who tried it themselves.

They’ll say one thing like…

“Calorie counting doesn’t work. I do know this, as a result of I attempted it and I didn’t lose any weight.”

Or possibly…

“Calorie counting may give you the results you want, nevertheless it didn’t work for me.”


“I’ve been counting energy for X days/weeks/months, however I’m not making any progress.”

And for many of those individuals, this will likely be all of the proof they should conclude that weight reduction isn’t about energy in any case. At the least, not for them.

It should be carbs. Or sugar. Or gluten. Or not consuming on the proper instances. Or not doing the best workouts. Or not taking the best dietary supplements. Or their metabolism is broken. And on and on and on.

No matter it’s, one factor is now sure to them: calorie counting doesn’t work.

Right here’s the factor about that.

Calorie Counting Works… When It’s Accomplished Proper

It’s VERY doable and VERY frequent to rely energy and NOT shed weight.

I’m not denying that truth in any respect.

It occurs on a regular basis.

But it surely’s not as a result of calorie counting doesn’t work, or as a result of weight reduction isn’t actually about energy. It’s as a result of a mistake was unknowingly made someplace that prevented it from being achieved proper.

Consider it like this.

Think about you need to drive from Level A to Level B. So that you get in your automotive, drive round in circles for an hour after which say “Driving doesn’t work. I attempted it however I didn’t get anyplace.”

The difficulty isn’t that driving doesn’t work. It’s that it wasn’t achieved proper.

And with regards to counting energy, there are 5 predominant explanation why it could not have labored for you previously or will not be working for you proper now.

Let’s see which one applies to you.

1. You’re Consuming Extra Energy Than You Understand

I actually can’t overstate how usually this occurs. It’s seen in research after research (sources: here, here, here, hereherehere, and here) and within the real-world by rattling close to each dietitian, weight-reduction plan coach, and weight-reduction plan skilled who works with shoppers.

I see it with individuals each day.

Whether or not it’s attributable to underestimating, miscalculating, under-reporting, or some mixture thereof, it’s a well known truth that individuals unintentionally eat extra energy than they’re desiring to.

Sure, even after they’re intently counting each calorie they eat.

They nonetheless unknowingly find yourself consuming greater than they understand, which suggests a caloric deficit doesn’t exist, which suggests weight reduction doesn’t occur. (I cowl all the methods this could occur and methods to stop them proper there: Why Am I Not Losing Weight?)

In these circumstances, it’s not that calorie counting doesn’t work, though it could appear that manner.

Relatively, it’s that the individual is consuming extra energy than the quantity they’re counting.

2. Your Calorie Calculator Isn’t Correct

Step one to counting energy is determining how many calories you need to eat per day to shed weight (or no matter your aim could also be).

This manner, you’ve got a each day calorie goal to intention for. That’s the quantity you’re counting your energy to achieve.

So, how do you discover this tremendous necessary quantity?

You in all probability Google “calorie calculator” or “TDEE calculator” or “upkeep calculator” and discover 1000 totally different calculators that use advanced mathematical equations and promise to be one of the best and most correct of all of them.

You enter your top, weight, age, gender, and exercise degree, and the calculator immediately provides you the calorie consumption it’s essential make weight reduction occur.


From there, you begin counting energy on daily basis to make sure you’re consuming the magic variety of energy the calculator instructed you to eat.

Days go… weeks go… months go… after which… nothing.

No weight reduction. No progress. No outcomes.

This should imply calorie counting doesn’t work, proper?

Not fairly.

Calculators Solely Give You An Estimate

The truth is that each calorie calculator in existence is just able to offering you with an estimated place to begin, not the assured calorie goal you actually want.

Irrespective of how good and fully correct it claims or not it’s, it’s nearly by no means going to be good and fully correct.

In truth, these calculators are recurrently off by tons of of energy.

So what occurs is that an individual will use some calculator to get a calorie goal to intention for, they usually’ll incorrectly assume it’s the peerlessly correct calorie goal they want.

They’ll then eat this quantity of energy on daily basis for weeks or months (possibly even years), and by no means lose any weight.

They’ll then assume “calorie counting doesn’t work” or “I attempted it and it didn’t work for me,” when in actuality the quantity the calculator gave them was just too excessive and a deficit didn’t exist.

This isn’t an indication that calorie counting doesn’t work. It’s an indication that an adjustment wanted to be made to this estimated beginning quantity.

3. Your Calorie Counting App Isn’t Correct

Upon getting a calorie goal to intention for, the subsequent step is normally going to be discovering some weight-reduction plan monitoring app to rely your energy with.

These apps will permit you to search their large database of meals, choose those you eat every day, modify their serving sizes accordingly, after which robotically add up the entire energy (and protein, fats, carbs, and so on.) that you simply’re consuming per day.

That is one thing I extremely suggest doing, because it makes the entire course of considerably quicker, simpler, and extra correct than another strategy.

Nonetheless, it’s nonetheless not good.

It’s because most weight-reduction plan monitoring apps have diet info of their database that isn’t at all times correct.

This largely comes within the type of user-submitted information.

That means, whereas lots of the meals within the database are going to be offered by reliable sources (just like the USDA), many others are going to come back from some random one who added them on their very own.

How is that this doable, you ask?

As a result of many apps enable random customers (like me, you, and your most clueless buddy) so as to add meals into the general public database with little to no course of in place to confirm that any of it’s even remotely correct.

So in the event you’re utilizing one among these apps and counting on a meals database that’s solely partially correct due to it’s user-submitted information, you possibly can very simply find yourself consuming extra energy than it appears.

As soon as once more, this doesn’t imply calorie counting doesn’t work.

It means it’s essential keep away from utilizing user-submitted meals in your monitoring, or possibly simply discover a less-stupid weight-reduction plan monitoring app that doesn’t enable this to occur within the first place.

4. You Didn’t Give It Sufficient Time To Work

Now let’s think about you’ve efficiently averted the earlier 3 eventualities, and you’re appropriately and precisely counting your energy.

Nice information, proper?

The unhealthy information, nonetheless, is that there are nonetheless two different errors which might be made on a regular basis.

The primary will not be giving calorie counting sufficient time to work.

This could possibly be stated for each weight reduction weight-reduction plan and technique too, after all.

For instance, I’ve had individuals inform me one thing like “I’ve counted my energy for the previous couple of days however I haven’t misplaced any weight.”

Um, no kidding.

That is going to take a bit longer than “a number of days.”

Most individuals can count on to lose between 0.5 – 2lbs per week, with the upper finish of that vary being extra possible for these with plenty of weight to lose, and the decrease finish being extra possible for these with much less weight to lose.

So in the event you’re solely giving this a number of days to work, otherwise you’re anticipating to lose 10lbs in per week (or something equally unrealistic), it’s not going to occur.

But once more, this isn’t calorie counting “not working.” That is having unrealistic expectations for what “working” actually entails with regards to losing weight.

5. It Labored, However You Didn’t Observe Your Progress Properly Sufficient To Discover

The following mistake has nothing to do with calorie counting, and every thing to do with progress monitoring.

As a result of in the event you’re not monitoring your progress appropriately, it’s VERY straightforward to assume progress isn’t being made when it truly is.

The commonest instance of that is when an individual weighs themselves simply as soon as per week (e.g. each Monday).

The issue with this strategy is that physique weight fluctuates from sooner or later to the subsequent for fully regular causes that don’t have anything in any way to do with fats being misplaced or gained.

This could possibly be attributable to short-term adjustments in water, poop, glycogen, the quantity of meals in your abdomen ready to be digested, and extra.

So in the event you weighed your self final Monday and it occurred to be a day the place your weight quickly fluctuated downward for no matter cause, and this Monday occurs to be a day the place your weight has quickly fluctuated upward for no matter cause, have you learnt what you’re going to see?

Weight achieve.

And that’s going to make you assume calorie counting doesn’t work.

However that’s solely since you don’t understand how frequent it’s for an individual to step by step lose physique fats all through the week WHILE quickly gaining some other form of weight that counterbalances it.

This could make it seem like no fats was misplaced in any respect (though it was), or maybe some fats was truly gained (when it positively wasn’t).

To stop this state of affairs, probably the most correct technique to monitor your progress is by weighing your self on daily basis (within the morning, earlier than consuming or ingesting), taking the typical on the finish of the week, and focusing totally on what these weekly averages are doing over a span of a minimum of 3-4 consecutive weeks.

This strategy will enable you see what’s actually taking place together with your physique weight and your progress.

So… Does Calorie Counting Work?


It does.

However, there are many errors which might be unintentionally and unknowingly made that may typically make it appear prefer it doesn’t.

So in the event you’re counting energy for the aim of losing a few pounds, gaining weight, or sustaining weight, and you discover that it’s not working for you, that’s a assured signal that there’s a mistake being made someplace.

The 5 we simply lined are the commonest, in order that they’d be one of the best locations to begin trying.

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