I just finished the tour for my new book Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop pounds and Lose Inches. I traveled from New York City to Dallas, Austin, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami and Nashville, and was interviewed for lots of radio shows, newspapers and web sites. In my travels one of the comments I heard most often was that people love that the book doesn’t require counting of any kind – no counting of calories, points, grams or any other numbers.
According to new research of those who are trying to lose weight only 19% say they keep track of calories. In another recent survey consumers ranked monitoring calories as ‘least likely to make a difference in their diets’ and only 9% said it would be the easiest thing for them to do on a regular basis.
Now I’m not saying that calories don’t matter but I do believe that the quality and timing of calories is a whole lot more important than the numbers. For example, your body handles 400 calories worth of candy (say 10 licorice twists - yup they're 40 cals each!) much differently than 400 calories from a mixture of fruit, popcorn, cheese and nuts.
If you were eating 2,000 calories a day and you cut your intake to 1,600 would you lose weight? Certainly. But in my nearly 20 years of experience how you eat those 1,600 calories and what they’re made from makes the biggest impact on whether or not you:
1) Lose the right type of weight (e.g. fat vs. muscle).
2) Meet your nutrient needs.
3) Feel well as you lose weight (energetic rather than cranky and lethargic).
4) Are able to stick with it, keep losing weight and keep that weight off.
I once had a client who was stuck in a rut of eating the same highly processed meals over and over and her weight loss had hit a plateau. When I encouraged her to switch from processed “diet” stuff to “real food” that provided the same number of calories she was skeptical but was up for experimenting. She not only broke her plateau, she upped her energy, felt more satisfied and began looking forward to each meal.
Have you ever been caught in the trap of placing too much emphasis simply on calories? Has switching things up ever helped you break a plateau? Are you a former calorie counting fanatic who has let go of the numbers game? Please share your thoughts!