If you’ve heard any of the above before and still feel unsure when it comes to what to do with all things nutrition and fat loss then you’ve come to the right place! Along with this, what about low-carbers, Paleo-ers and clean eaters, claiming that food quality is the real driver to body composition, arguing that calories aren’t created equally, and that due to dodgy labelling on food packaging, counting calories is completely redundant, people like me are fighting a losing battle. So in this beast of a blog post I’ll be showing you exactly why calories do count, and why you should give 2 hoots about them!
The first argument you often get against calorie counting is that a calorie is not always a calorie. A calorie will always be the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. Protein contains 4 calories per gram, carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, fat contains 9 calories per gram, and alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. A 2,500-calorie diet that’s made up of say 40% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 20% fat would NOT have the same effect on body composition as one that was 10% protein, 45% fat and 45% carb.
It might be hard to come to terms with, but if you think you’re not eating too many calories, yet you aren’t losing fat, then you’re wrong and likely not supplying your body with enough fuel to trigger that fat loss internal switch. It doesn’t matter if those calories come from grass-fed beef, wild salmon, raw cashews and organic pineapple, you can still get into a calorie surplus, and gain fat through eating clean.
Cutting crap from your diet and eating “clean” is all well and good, but what do you do when you reach a plateau and flat line?? I’ll admit, I don’t think the average person with 25+ kilos to shift, eating the average diet of processed crap, high-calorie junk, and loads of booze and sugar-filled drinks would really need to count calories.
By eating more nutrient-dense foods, and getting rid of some of the not so nutrient dense stuff will result in positive change and naturally put them into a calorie deficit. That “change” isn’t a switch in food sources that’s needed or to go 110% clean– 100 calories from chicken has the same effect as 100 calories from beef, 100 calories from white rice has the same effect as 100 calories from potato – and so on.

If you’re tracking and monitoring your calories, this is easy – you simply reduce your daily intake by say 50-150 per 5-7 days (depending on how much you’re eating currently, your weight, activity levels, how long you’ve been dieting for, and so on.) This reduction will usually come in the form of carbohydrate and fat. The only sure-fire way to get your calories lower is t switch out some obviously higher-calorie foods for lower ones.
This usually results in our clean eater cutting out most or all of their starchy carbs in favour of just green veggies.
Sure, this may result in a drop in calorie intake, but it also makes dieting a painful, boring, and miserable experience, and it’s still incredibly hard to monitor the exact number of calories you’re cutting yourself down to. Can we tell exactly spot on how many calories are in every single individual serving of Doritos, tim tams and connoisseur ice cream? The information on the packaging and on MyFitnessPal might say that each 225 gram steak contains 16 grams of fat, 63 grams of protein and 396 calories overall.
It doesn’t really matter – on average, you’re still getting an average of 393.5 calories from the steaks.
You might go to a restaurant, use their menu information to determine that your meatlovers pizza has 850 calories, when in actual fact, it contains 920. When I chat with people who have applied to work with me and have me as their coach, I always ask to look over their nutrition over the past few days. The client will give me a rough outline of their meals, as well as maybe the odd snack here and there. Further questions from me, and we typically unearth a few things they’ve forgotten – the biscuit they had mid-afternoon, half a doughnut that was shared with a colleague, or the leftover peanut butter that they polished off while cooking dinner. All of a sudden, you discover that what appeared to be a solid diet of 3 meals and a snack or two, coming in at 2,000 calories is actually 3 meals, a couple of snacks, a few extras here and there, plus 3 daily doses of liquid calories, and is actually around 2,600. The idea of this blog post was certainly not to say all foods are created equal, or to brain wash you to eat a nutrient-deficient diet just because it puts you in a calorie deficit.

Rather, what you need to do is at least be aware of your calorie intake, and preferably track it like I teach all of my clients to do so through using myfitness pal. Whether you enjoy eating yogurt by itself or adding it in healthy recipes for weight loss, I hope you choose Greek yogurt. As part of the MKB support for the ladies making their first attempt at clean eating, I will share snacks, meals or treats I make or recommend.
Gluten free, dairy free Paleo BreadI woke up recently craving a piece of toast with butter and jelly.
A friend recently shared this recipe from Happy Chomp for Cauliflower Taco Shells and I had to try it!
And as much as I say “calories count” – that 2.5 calorie difference from the data listed won’t make or break your physique and make the sky fall down on your head. However, by the law of averages, next time you go out for food, the actual calorie content of your chosen dish could well be lower than listed because you’re more in the know this time round. It undergoes extra straining process to remove liquid whey, sugar and lactose, giving it more nutritional value and thicker consistency. Almost everyday I engage in a conversation about clean eating, an update from someone who is participating in a clean eating challenge, someone asking for tips, recipe exchanges or  just an inquiring mind. In the end, Greek yogurt offers double the protein and less sugar while containing the same amount of calories. If we are considering a new meal and aren’t sure, I usually google it or go to the almighty Pinterest to find a recipe!

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