Calorie Myths on The Huffington Post

The comment discussion that followed one of my recent Huffington Post articles was worth sharing…so quoting the conversation verbatim from 118,801 Reasons Dieting Is Fattening:

I hope no one who reads this actually BELIEVES this blindly as truth. There is SO much more to realize!

FACT: Not burning the same or more calories than you consume WILL lead to weight gain.

Bailor’s post doesn’t broach how many calories were consumed or burned. Did they exercise? If not, were they very active people who walk to work, do housework, fidget, do chores….. all things that burn calories? Did the test subjects who ate more “high quality foods” sit around on the couch all day and night? MUCH of our body weight has to do with genetics (thin parents, fat parents), and psychology (binging before and after diets / deprivation mind set), and lifestyle (sedentary vs. active). People who tend to eat higher quality foods also tend to be more ACTIVE. Telling people they can eat more if the food is higher quality is just cruel! I tried being vegan in my late 20’s believing the high quality, nutritionally dense foods would be good for my waistline. I gained weight and I was working out hard. But I didn’t count how many calories I was eating. Turned out I was onsuming over 3500 calories/day. Unless you have some kind of medical issue or unfortunate genetics, the surest way to keep weight off is to keep tabs on your calories coming in (which most people underestimate) and have a good sense of how many calories are going out (something most people grossly overestimate).

Hi Jill – Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. You are spot on that “Not burning the same or more calories than you consume WILL lead to weight gain.” You are also 100% correct that the take away from the article should not be that calories don’t count. Thanks for making sure this is clear to readers.

My hope was to illustrate that the blind guidance to eat less to cure metabolic dysfunction is a bit like telling someone with respiratory dysfunction (aka allergies) to just breathe less to cure what ails them. It is practically impossible to chronically overeat if we are eating (in order of volume): non-starchy vegetables, nutrient dense proteins, low-fructose fruits, and whole food fats. Quality makes quantity a non-issue.

Calories count. I’m just a fan of simplifying life and letting your body balance them for you by eating as much as you want, whenever you are hungry, as long as it’s high-quality food the body is designed to digest. When you do this, you will drop your set-point weight, unconsciously consume the appropriate number of calories, take in dramatically more nutrition, overflow with energy, and never feel hungry.

You are spot on that calories count. It’s just that counting them can’t be necessary for health, considering that before most people knew what a calorie was about 90 percent of the population avoided obesity and over 99 percent of us avoided type 2 diabetes.