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Stop Counting Calories — Do THIS Instead

Ways to View This Blog:

1. Video 2. TL;DR 3. Read On...

There’s no doubt, counting calories has helped some people lose weight. To be fair, most people don’t get very far with it, and most weight loss that comes from it is temporary, but it technically CAN work.

Out of the small percentage of people that do see success with it, almost no one reports that counting calories makes healthy eating a more natural part of life — something to where you hardly even have to think about it anymore.

For most people, it’s the opposite; counting calories makes them MORE obsessed with thinking about food.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, but if you aren’t actually healthier at the end of it (physically or mentally), that’s still a pretty big fail.

Let me be clear, if you’ve struggled with getting the results you want from counting calories, the failure isn’t on your part. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s a failure on the part of the system itself.

There’s no reason why you can’t find a way to feed yourself more healthy foods, make healthy eating more intuitive for the entire family, and lose weight at the same time.

You just need a more realistic approach.

My Experience

I’ve done a lot of tracking and weighing of my food. I know the struggles…

I’ve done it at home where it’s easiest (but still annoying). I’ve done it at restaurants where, if there’s nutrition information at all, you just hope the portions are right (but probably aren’t, so also annoying). I’ve even done it while traveling, which is almost impossible (or at least annoyingly complicated enough that it’s not worth it).

It can also be confusing. I know I had questions like…

“How many ounces of meat is this?” “Do I weigh this cooked or raw?” “One result says 150 calories and another says 500 for the same thing — which do I pick?” “Will my friend think I’m weird if I bring a food scale to her house to weigh the potatoes?” (Yes. She will.)

Don’t get me wrong, there are ways to deal with all of these things if you really wanted to.

You just don’t have to.

Do You Have to Track Anything?

There’s only one reason why I recommend tracking anything at all:

It’s how you can guarantee making progress.

(Side note: That’s why we can guarantee your results if you work with us).

Technically, you can make progress without tracking anything, but you’re a whole lot more likely to succeed if you keep track of your progress along the way. It can be done really simply, which I’ll explain in a sec, but if you’re serious about what you’re doing, tracking the right things should be part of it.

This is where we run into another problem with counting calories.

If the only thing you care about is losing weight, counting calories is fine. Since calories are just an up or down thing, you may have to eat less and less until you’re starving and depriving your body of the nutrients it needs, but it’ll get the job done.

It’s not healthy, or fun, but you’ll lose weight. (For the record, we won’t work with anyone who has that mindset.)

On the other hand, if weight loss is more of an added benefit you want, but your bigger goals are things like having more energy, finding realistic ways to eat healthy and exercise as a parent with young kids, and building healthy habits that you actually feel good about passing down to those kids (i.e. not calorie counting)…

You’re in the right place — and you’ll need to track in a different way.

The Alternative

If the goal is a healthier lifestyle — one that makes sense with a family that keeps you busy and a body that doesn’t quite feel the same as it did 20 years ago — you have to track the things that are actually going to make you healthier.

You also have to do it in a way that’s convenient enough that you can stick with it for a while so that eating healthy eventually becomes second nature, because you aren’t going to track forever.

The “hand guide,” which I’m about to show you, addresses both of those concerns.

Your body doesn’t just need calories (aka energy), it also needs nutrients (aka the stuff in food that keeps our bodies functioning well). The hand guide is a simple way to track both without all the numbers involved with calories and grams.

Here’s what it looks like:

Not only is this simple on its own, it also gives you an opportunity to make it even easier by tracking one thing at a time.

If you struggle to get enough protein, focus only on that for a while. Is it missing from your breakfast? Lunch? Both?

Or if you overdo it with super yummy but highly processed carbs, work on that by making sure you still eat enough carbs (rather than only cutting them out like you would with calorie counting), but aim for more servings coming from higher quality sources.

By viewing nutrition like this, you have a better chance of your eating habits actually making you feel better, and it can transform your relationship with food in a really healthy way.

The Most Important Part

It’s super important to understand this isn’t some new “diet.”

This is stuff you need to know at a very foundational level. It’s everything we should have been taught about nutrition as kids, but weren’t. (In fact, it’s exactly what Megan and I teach our kids now — see A Better Way to Talk to Your Kids About Food).

The hand guide is just a simple tool for understanding it and putting it to practical use.

It happens to be something that’s worked for literally tens of thousands of people (we didn’t make it up, it’s been around awhile). But whether you use it or not isn’t as important as whether you implement the concepts behind it.

If you do have a specific weight loss goal, there are other things you’ll need to track, too (see “What Should I Track to Lose Weight?”). But start here with the basic principles of giving your body the nutrients it needs, in the amount it needs, to feel good and function well.

Remember, it’s not something you have to track forever. It’s the first step in learning to eat healthy so you DON’T have to think about it all the time.

Counting calories is tedious, so you probably won’t stick with it. It can also be an unhealthy process focusing on how much you eat rather than WHAT you eat. Do the opposite…

Focus on the nutrients in your food first, which ultimately makes it easier to control how much you eat, too. This way you can create habits that lead to a more intuitive approach to healthy eating — and a healthier life — so you don’t have to obsess over food but can still lose weight in the process.

To keep it simple, we recommend the hand guide (pictured above).


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