Scientists apparently disagree on whether counting calories helps or does not help you lose weight. This Healthline article by Alina Petre is a good summary of the evidence for and against calorie counting. Ms. Petre concludes counting calories helps because, duh, you can’t lose weight unless you burn more calories then you consume.
Ms. Petre also does a good job explaining why some studies appear to show it doesn’t work. She thinks it’s because these studies fail to account for how poorly people estimate what they eat and how much they exercise. Also, studies showing that people on low-carb diets lose weight even though they don’t consume less calories are misleading because low-carb diets are higher in protein and fat, which have different impacts on the body than carbs, and can result in water weight loss rather than fat loss.
For what its worth, calorie counting works for me. I have lost at least 10 pounds since I began counting calories and recording my exercise activity on the Lose It! app on September 1, 2017. The weight loss happened gradually and I did not feel like I had to deprive myself of the foods (wine!) I love and enjoy. I was also able to eat out with loved ones without carrying around my own salad dressing. Often, if I consume more calories than my calorie budget for the day allows, I will either exercise more or cut back on my calorie intake the next day. I feel more in control of my weight than I have in years.
When I wanted to lose weight in the past, I would pick a restrictive diet and follow it for one or two weeks. I was miserable most of the time. Watching what I ate was counter-productive because it made me think about food more. It also made me feel worse about myself. “Mostly Miserable Marcia” was a good description of my mood during those weeks. Needless to say, these restrictive diets did not result in long-term weight loss.
In the past few years, I relied on my step counter to control my weight. I thought as long as I got my steps in, I could eat and drink (most of) what I wanted. This approach stopped working, probably because my metabolism slowed down as I got older. A new approach was needed, so I did some research on calorie counting apps and chose Lose It!. The app is easy to use and has great search and scanning features. I probably spend 15 minutes per day entering my food and exercises into the app. Using LoseIt! facilitates contemporaneous record-keeping which (as long you don’t intentionally cheat) improves compliance.
My happy experience with the app has encouraged others to use it, including my husband, my daughter, my sister-in-law, a co-worker, and her son and mother. We have long (entertaining to us, but probably boring to others) conversations about what we ate, how many calories we recorded for what we ate, our exercise activity for the day and how many calories we have left to consume. Eric and I have also developed our own comedy routine about who ate more of the shared dessert and has to record more calories. Eric definitely ate 75% of the Hula Pie at Duke’s Beach House in Maui. Even though we blew our calorie budget that day, it was worth it!
Try the Hula Pie at Duke’s!