What to Count for Weight Loss? Calories? Carbs? Protein? Fat? Points? Servings? Bites?

There is no shortage of approaches to losing weight.

One way or another, the approaches that work all do one thing. They cut calories. If you do not create a calorie deficit you won’t lose weight. You can count on that.????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

When calorie consumption is less than the calories your body requires to fuel its energy needs, weight loss occurs.  It cannot occur if calorie consumption exceeds a body’s need for calories.

Counting calories will result in weight loss by ensuring that calories are restricted. Is it the best way to lose weight? It’s effective but not guaranteed to be the best way to lose weight.

Counting calories doesn’t take nutritional quality of food into account. Simply by restricting calories it’s possible to lose weight, but it may result in an unbalanced diet. The body needs a variety of macronutrients and micronutrients to maintain good health.

Counting carbs is another way to restrict calories. Every gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories. Limiting carbs limits calories. If the only macronutrient that gets limited is carbs, however, it is possible that more grams of the other 2 macronutrients will take the place of the carbs. Considering protein also has 4 calories per gram means that reducing carbs while eating more protein may fail to deliver weight loss. If some of the grams of carbs are replaced with grams of fat, the calorie content of the diet goes even higher. Every gram of fat has 9 calories.dreamstime_s_38207980

Counting Points uses a formula that assigns a value to a food based on its macronutrient content. The formula uses fat, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber to  determine a points value. It’s helpful in balancing nutrients and ensuring a healthy way to eat, but it’s not guaranteed. Anybody using the points plan is encouraged to make balanced choices, but ultimately how the points get used is up to the user.

Counting servings and bites also can reduce calories. The same challenge remains with reduced servings or cutting back on bites – there is nothing in place to ensure that the servings or bites offer healthy nutrition.

Counting anything may not be the best way to lose weight.

Counting food using by any means of measure is an external approach. It imposes a limit that doesn’t recognize that a body’s needs for calories varies from day to day. Some days the unit that’s being counted leaves too large of a calorie deficit and other days it may be more calories than the body needed. Yes, over a matter of time it would average to consistently fewer calories eaten than burned and therefore weight loss would take place. It doesn’t promote satisfaction.

Instead of counting, a better approach may be choosing foods that are naturally high in nutrients and lower in calories.

Building daily food choices on such foods and eating them in amounts to satisfy – not the same as “all you can eat” – can accomplish weight loss, satisfaction and good nutrition. Instead of eating by external cues, this teaches eating in response to internal cues.

Instead of counting what you’re eating, why not just count the pounds coming off!


Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.