Many people use the tool of calorie counting to help achieve their weight loss goals. This can be done as calories only, or looking further into the macronutrient break down of food often called ‘macro counting’.

People generally track their calories by either relying on nutritional tables found on packaging, or using food databases on phone applications such as My Fitness Pal.

Don’t get me wrong; calorie counting certainly has its place.

In terms of learning portion control and the caloric density of different foods it can be a great short-term educational tool, however, there are certainly flaws in the system. Here’s why:

  1. Nutritional values in tracking databases aren’t always 100% accurate. Everyone has the option of adding nutritional values or new foods to the system. If they make a mistake inputting the data, it is not often audited or double-checked, leaving you with an over or underestimate of calories in your food diary.

  2. The calorie counts on different food labels are averages only. Food companies are allowed to use up to 5 different methods to measure calories, and are allowed an error margin of 20%.

  3. We don’t digest 100% of the calories we consume. For example, an apple contains fibre that we eat, however we do not necessarily digest it all. Again this creates a discrepancy because although we technically ate the food, how much of it was actually broken down for energy?

  4. Cooking food changes the caloric breakdown of food. For example, 100g of raw chicken has less calories than 100g of cooked chicken. This is because heat changes the absorption rate of food, making the food more readily absorbed.

If we reflect on the information above, it should be noted that although calorie counting can be a helpful tool for weight loss or food journaling, it comes with flaws that need to be at least considered in the bigger picture. To create long term, sustainable health changes, consider more effective strategies that will last you forever.

At Bloom Allied Health, we focus on creating long lasting nutritional habits. This involves hand portion guides that can be implemented at every meal without the need for weighing and recording. By making things as simple and sustainable as possible, we are setting our clients up for long-term success whilst avoiding yoyo dieting and weight fluctuations.

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