Fact! Calorie Counting Doesn’t Work For Weight Loss


ASK yourself this:  If someone ate 2000 calories per day of takeaways, while another consumed 2000 calories per day in whole foods (fresh vegetables and lean meats) – would these two people have the same body composition or look the same?

The answer may not be much of a no brainer to most people as you can imagine. Today, fitness expert, Salman Kassam guest blogs for The Peoples’ Hub on why it really matters that we watch what we eat to achieve our health goals.

The act of digesting and absorbing your food is an active process that requires energy & increases your metabolism.  This is known as the “thermic effect” of food.  This effect will differ depending on the food you are eating. Protein has the highest thermic effect, followed by fibre, carbohydrate and then fats.

The thermic effect can be up to 10% of the foods that you eat.  So counting 100 calories of junk vs 100 calories of a whole food is not the same thing.


The second key point is on the “calories” as we see them on the food we purchase in shops. The fact is that most calories recorded on the back of packets are as much as 20% out!

Don't believe the hype

Don’t believe the hype

Why is this you may ask?  Well, a calorie is defined as the energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by 1 degrees celsius.  So to find out the exact kcal content of a pre-packaged food, some unlucky intern would have to burn each individual ingredient over some water to get the exact figure!

For an average person to lose weight you only have to reduce your calorie intake by a meagre 5-8%, so being 20% out would be disastrous.

The food effect

Another important fact is that the content of your food has an effect on your hormones.

If you eat food with high carbohydrate content, your body responds by releasing insulin -your fat storage hormone.  Insulin then endeavours to control the influx of sugar in your blood stream by storing what it can in your muscles and liver. The rest will be stored as adipose tissue. In other words, fat!

If you were substituting protein and healthy fats for a portion of those carbs, the protein would be used to restore tissue damage and build lean mass, while the fats would be used to restore brain health, and to produce hormones like testosterone & oestrogen.

Lie detector test

Let’s be honest for a second now. People don’t always accurately record what they eat.

In fact, most people underestimate what they eat by an enormous 40%!

For example, the polo you ate on the way to a meeting to freshen your breath, would that be recorded?  In the five years I’ve been collecting food diaries you would have thought mints were no longer on sale.

You may say that who cares about a meagre 5 kcals, but these all add up.

Genetically we absorb and process food differently from one another.

Two people eating the same calorie intake and food won’t always have the same body composition, because no two people have the same genetics.

To oversimplify, if you are stocky, carbs are likely to effect you far more than if you are naturally lanky.  So sometimes a tweak to the “macronutrient percentages” (i.e. altering the ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats) in your diet will have a far greater impact than trying to manage calorie intake.

What to do

Common sense should dictate how you eat, not an arbitrary number.  You are not likely to get fat from eating whole foods.  However an individual plan, made by an expert is always the best approach if you’re stuck in a rut.

Sal sig imageIf you have any questions please feel free to contact me on +44 20 8166 5110 or email me at salman@improvemyfitness.co.uk

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Words by : @improveMyfitnes