Do You NEED to Count Calories?

I sure don’t do it. Which isn’t a surprise because most guys just hate counting calories as it tends to make us obsessed and miserable.

Snake oil “lifestyle nutritionists” obviously play on this by creating fad diets that don’t require counting calories. We had low fat diets (1970s), then low carb (atkins), and now low grain (hunter-gatherer/caveman/paleolithic diet).

Yet all these “nutrition lifestyles” do the same thing: limiting the consumption of one or several “evil” foods to restrict the amount of calories you eat.

Those “experts” will claim that it’s not all about calories. But you just need to look at the 30 years of data collected by the USDA ERS to realize that the rise in obesity is directly related to a huge spike in calorie consumption from meats, fats, flour/cereals, fruits and sugar – not one food in particular.

I’m a low carb proponent, my very own StrongLifts Diet limits the consumption of grains. Here’s why that works for fat loss: most guys easily get 50% of their calories from carbs. Limiting grains limits calories, and thus you get fat loss. More important: many guys, including me, just feel better eating less grains.

But I also know why it does NOT work: you can still overeat of the “good foods”. Your body doesn’t care if you eat low carb, low fat, or organic. Excess calories will translate into fat gains, even if these calories come from proteins. Yes it IS harder to overeat on a high protein/fat diet, but it is NOT impossible.

The essential exercise: track everything for 7 days. Read all the labels, take out the measurement spoons, be miserable for a week. You might be surprised at how many calories there is inside those foods that you thought were “good”.

I don’t count calories because I’ve done it plenty during my crazy bodybuilding years. I know how many calories there is in each food, I know how much I eat, I’ve developed a feel for it. More important: I got my body-fat under control.

Yet if I’d need to lose fat or gain weight, I’d track everything. Most guys struggling with fat loss dramatically underestimate their food intake. Just like most guys struggling with weight gain OVERestimate it. It’s all about calories, but you need exact numbers for the maths to work.

In fact, it’s my observation that a guy’s success and gains directly reflect the number of precise data he is measuring daily, weekly, monthly. Whether you’re talking food data or training data, measurements gets results.