What No One Tells You About The Counting Calorie Myth

Before I crack on with this...

I need to make a counting calorie declaration!!!

Every coach has their own opinions and beliefs "so I Jason Brownlie Coach declare that this is based on my opinion only".

Now that's out of the way, let me ask you a question....

Do you know who the healthiest humans today are?

The healthiest humans today (and from the past) are those who don’t even know what a calorie is. They have stayed true to their nutritional values and traditions without succumbing to a western world way of life.

They do not look at a passing bison and calculate the amount of calories they are about to consume. They don’t have nutritionists, diets or even modern medicine.

Yes, you guessed right “primitive” modern day hunter gatherers who manage to stay thin, healthy and avoid most western diseases without all the complicated and useless solutions we have today.

The process of counting calories is a fairly modern concept which forces us as a global nation to be largely dependent on the food industry, which in itself makes the measurement unsustainable and clearly this method of measuring food is generally not sustainable without dependence on food companies.


For me, the issue over the metabolic rate shows just how cunning and clever the human body is and why the simplistic message of calorie counting from government bodies makes an absolute mockery of science.

As humans we evolved as hunter-gatherers and therefore had to survive in times of feast and famine.

When the primordial fridge was stocked full they would eat as much as they could and when things got tough they survived by living off their fat.

So our bodies are programmed to cope with feast and famine.

There are natural indicators of famine and when those kick in the body will do everything in its power to preserve life.

A study by Astrup, et al (1999) found:

“that when you reduce the amount of food you eat, the body will recognize the reduction in calories and, if this continues over an extended period, it will comparatively reduce its metabolic rate”.

This is a perfect way to conserve energy.

So eating less can, for many, mean that the body simply starts to slow down; while you are calorie counting your body is energy counting.

As many experienced dieters have found out, during the first week or so you lose lots of weight on a calorie controlled diet, but then weight loss slows down as the body slows down to accommodate the reduction in calories.

This is very annoying however inevitable.

The British Nutrition Foundation has suggested that you may ‘fool’ your body out of this behaviour by feeding the body with the same weight of food but with fewer calories.

They suggest that you eat lots of foods that are high in water – but as far as I’m aware there is no proper randomized/clinical evidence to suggest that this is correct.

Calorie counting may well be accelerating the obesity epidemic by reducing the metabolic rate – and when we return to higher-calorie meals (as we always do), we regain the weight lost, and sometimes add more, as our metabolic rate has been lowered.

Does this sound familiar?

Another problem with measuring food by calorie content is the lack of information on nutrients.

In my opinion food is not just about energy. Food isn’t there just to provide us with fuel; it is there to help us keep well, build cells, feed our brains and do many other things.

The foods that are really good at all these other tasks are those that contain, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, essential vitamins, essential minerals and fibre.

While calorie counting does tell us the amount of energy there is in food, it does not give us a whole heap of other critical information which will affect our weigh far more than simple energy intake.

Calorie counting does not tell us about the impact of food on the following:

- Insulin response - Satiety (feeling full) - Metabolic Rate - Nutrient famine - Thermodynamics (the calorie burn)

Each one of these issues makes a mockery of calorie counting.

To help you out I have set out below a list of foods all equal to 100 calories, which highlights the complete stupidity of measuring food simply by its calorific intake and then building a whole nations eating habits on this limited and frequently misleading information.

- 1 boiled egg - 40g bran flakes - 1.5 brazil nuts - 1 chocolate biscuit - 100g kidney beans - 120g new potatoes - 500g spinach - 60g steak - 36 strawberries