Calorie Counting…Does it work?

In general… NO. Calorie counting does not work.


  1. Calories are hard to measure, and nutrition labels can be up to 20% off (as permitted by the FDA). That means your 100 calorie snack pack could really be up to 120 calories, or even as low as 80. And while that doesn’t seem like a huge deal in this one instance, it WILL add up over time.
  2. The way you prepare your food changes it. Raw, steamed, boiled, grilled, and microwaved foods will change the amount of energy available for digestion and absorption. So if you have 100 calories of broccoli, and eat it right from the stalk, grate it up, or sautee it in a pan, you now have 3 different amounts of energy available to the body.
  3. We do not absorb and digest everything we take in. Protein, for example, has a net energy balance of 4 calories/gram, and we can calculate carbs, and fats pretty well, but specific foods, do not cooperate the same way. Nuts and seeds will not be fully absorbed (generally less than what is stated – 68-95%), while fiber-rich foods will absorb 10-28% more calories than estimated.
  4. Each person’s gut bacteria varies and can increase or decrease the amount of calories we absorb based on which types of bacteria are more prevalent.
  5. Most calorie counts are based on one serving size. Human error (and hunger) play a big part here, as we do not eye-ball or measure correctly. Usually, this ends with a higher count than expected and/or wanted – up to 23% more!!!

Check out this infographic for some more details:


If you’d like more information on how to control your eating without having the stress of counting calories, sign up for 12 weeks of nutrition coaching, and get a personalized quick start guide for free. It includes how to measure portions on your hand, and how to create the perfect meal. Just type “12 weeks” into the subject line.

Not ready for a full 12 weeks? Set up a free 30-minute coaching session with me, where we can come up with some SIMPLE, realistic changes to help jump start your journey.  Just type “Coaching Session” in the subject line.

Happy New Year!!

♥ Beth


*infographic is shared with permission from Precision Nutrition*

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