Don’t Be A Calorie Counter – Eat Fat and Lose Weight!

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Are you a calorie counter? If so, your health could be in jeopardy. People who count calories are usually not consuming the right types of foods and often develop all types of problems such as obesity and heart disease.

Calories found in natural, whole foods eaten until your body feels full can never make you gain weight. If you are regularly eating processed, packaged foods and thinking you can get away with continuing to eat those foods because you watch your calories, think again.

Research shows that people who eat full-fat, natural foods are able to maintain correct body weight. Contrary to popular belief, eating low-fat foods do not eliminate weight gain – in fact, they contribute to the putting on of pounds. A Swedish study conducted at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute revealed that drinking full-fat milk and eating full-fat cheese led to a decrease in weight in a group of overweight women. The study took place over a ten-year period of time, and resulted in a 15 percent less weight gain from drinking milk and a 30 percent less weight gain from eating full-fat cheese.

Even companies like Weight Watchers are finally having to admit that counting calories doesn’t work. Here’s an interesting commentary about it from Dr. Joseph Mercola’s web site.

Let’s find out why counting calories doesn’t cause weight loss:

When you work out at the gym, you can look at your treadmill and see that a 30-minute run burned 300 calories, but it doesn’t reveal whether you consumed 300 calories from the breakdown of fats, carbs, or muscle. What could have easily occurred is that you burned 300 calories from the breakdown of carbs. The other thing that could occur, which is worse is that you may have used up 300 calories from lean muscle tissue (protein), which is counter-productive to exercise and harms your health.

Our bodies are designed to burn calories throughout the day from fats, as opposed to carbs and proteins. But most people with weight issues are burning more calories from the breakdown of carbs and proteins, not fats. So they are not in the “fat-burning zone” throughout the day. Calories are being spent, but they’re not burning calories from stored body fat (and also the toxins that are stored in that fat, which contribute to health problems). Even if you don’t have any carbohydrates in your body, your body will still continue to break down lean muscle.

So, the reason those with weight problems aren’t burning stored body fat efficiently is not related to the amount of calories consumed or used up, but how the metabolism is regulated in the body. And guess what causes the metabolism to run the most efficiently? Eating plenty of healthy fats and proteins.

Fat burning is regulated by hormones which are governed by the metabolism

Because our metabolism is controlled by our hormones, it is important to understand that some hormones burn fats, some store fats, and some tell the body to burn proteins and carbs. When we automatically assume that burning 300 calories from a workout and we are eliminating body fat from doing this, we are assuming our metabolism is working correctly. The metabolism of a person who is overweight is having a difficult time regulating the burning of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates because of the signals it receives from the body when digesting the food it eats. If you are eating low-calorie foods, your body is being told to conserve because not enough fat is coming in, and it holds onto fat and lets go of carbs.

Hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, insulin, and glucagon are produced due to our dietary habits and stress factors. If you are stressed-out – which can be caused by emotional or physical issues – the result is an over-production of cortisol and adrenaline. This reaction tells your body to burn carbs and proteins rather than fats. The same is true about insulin and glucagon. An excess of carbs in your diet will cause the production of more insulin – which stores fat. Glucagon has the opposite job of burning fat and is produced when you consume protein.

Watch Part 1 of this informative discussion with Gary Taubes, author and speaker, about why people get fat and can’t lose weight:

So, stop counting calories and eat full-fat, real, whole foods:

  • meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy from healthy animals and birds on pasture
  • organic or sustainable produced fruits and vegetables
  • whole, organic grains prepared properly through traditional methods of soaking, sprouting, and fermenting (sparingly)
  • real, healthy fats like butter, ghee, tallow, lard and other fats from animals and fowl on pasture, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil

Your body will likely be able to shed those pounds it has been stubbornly keeping on for so long, and you will probably find you have more energy and that everything, including exercise, becomes easier and more enjoyable.

More information? Suggested reading:

Eat Fat, Lose Fat
Good Calories, Bad Calories – Gary Taubes
Eat Fat Lose Fat Blog
Fat-free, low-fat, and non-fat do not equal health

Lowfat diets – Mary Enig, Weston A. Price Foundation

13 Comments

  • Mari
    May 18, 2011 - 12:21 PM | Permalink

    “Calories found in natural, whole foods eaten until your body feels full can never make you gain weight.”

    This is simply not true. “Never”? When I stopped eating junk diet food and started practicing clean eating, I gained about 20 pounds. Of course, I completely advocate eating cleanly and naturally, but just because it’s good for you and wholesome doesn’t mean the foods are practically calorie-free in terms of weight loss! I ate until I felt full and sometimes that was too many calories for me. For the record, though, I felt much better even at 20 lbs overweight on whole foods than I did at a more attractive weight on junk diet food. I was just fatter.

  • May 18, 2011 - 1:33 PM | Permalink

    Mari – if natural foods you eat in normal amounts make you gain weight, you have some other issue going on that is not to do with the food. It’s a metabolic issue and likely liver toxicity issues. Most people have those and anything like that can cause weight gain. If you read the post, it does provide this answer.

    If you gained weight as you described, there is some metabolic and probably liver issue going on from all the processed foods you used to eat. If your body is not digesting properly, you bet things are going to go wrong. If you don’t take care of those toxicity issues and imbalances you probably aren’t going to improve your health much. I was just talking to someone about the liver gallbladder cleanse, coffee enemas, and the GAPS diet and how effective and necessary these protocols are to getting healthy again before trying to eat normally – which is not processed, but real, wholesome foods. Real foods from nature contain exactly what we need and all the nutrients necessary for health. Fix your digestion and metabolism and then you can digest these essential nutrients from those foods.

    I did not say real food was calorie-free, and I don’t think anyone would want to go on a calorie-free diet unless they wanted to slowly kill themselves. Even when you are trying to lose weight, your body still need nutrients and calories so it can function, and even more so because detox and cleansing takes a lot out of your body, including some of the nutrients you desperately need.

  • May 19, 2011 - 7:36 AM | Permalink

    The entire calorie system is very old, and there is no evidence that it is valid. I personally do not believe in it. A healthy person who has resolved their metabolic issues and eats only real food will find that the body will naturally regulate both appetite and weight.

    The healthy peoples studied by Dr Weston A Price did not have obesity, and I assure you they did not count calories.

    Mari, the fact that you are feeling much better is a good thing.

  • Paleo Huntress
    May 19, 2011 - 7:40 AM | Permalink

    Mari, I agree with Raine. If you gained weight, there is another issue going on– most likely one of insulin resistance. We’ve been told that “whole” grains legumes are healthy, but they are full of sugar, phytic acid, trypsin inhibitors, lectins and lots of other nasties the human body didn’t evolve eating. If your diet included much whole grain or legumes, you weren’t eating clean. =( Once you sort out your metabolism, your body adjust to a healthy weight all on its own.

  • May 19, 2011 - 8:13 AM | Permalink

    Paleo and Stanley – many thanks for your comments. It’s true that no civilization before modern times counted calories or grams of fat, that would have been considered a silly thing to do. People just ate foods. With the advent of the modern food system, industrialization, and mechanization has come the dawn of marketing, advertising, and labeling. These three things have been the most powerful influences on people’s health, and it has not been to our advantage. We are fatter and sicker, with diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and many others at an all-time high. Many people are on medication and diets. And for what result? People are not losing weight, or even if they do, they gain it back eventually. The yo-yo system of deprivation, dieting, and including low-fat, manufactured, toxic, fake foods in our diets is aging us prematurely and killing us before it’s time.

    We now look to corporations and government who employ physicians and scientists to tell us how to eat, and we won’t listen to any other intelligence about diet or health unless it comes from those sources. How this whole system evolved is probably in part due to the population growing, but also because of a sense of exhaltation over God and nature, and that somehow our machinations about health are superior to what’s always been true since the beginning of time – that we are designed to eat real, wholesome foods, and eat until we are full. The very act of putting real food in our bodies tells us how much we need and what we need to be healthy. No lab or expert could ever relay anything more valuable than that.

  • May 19, 2011 - 10:21 AM | Permalink

    Raine, that is profound. If everyone just recognized the brilliant truth of your last paragraph, the world would be a far better place. The arrogance of ignorant scientists over nature’s laws is one of the worst things that has ever come to pass.

  • Erica
    May 19, 2011 - 6:39 PM | Permalink

    Great post, Raine!

    We will never know how many calories we need in a day. Each day varies depending on numerous factors, including our bodies’ way of dealing with many pathogens that we are inevitably exposed to on a daily basis. Imagine how much energy is required for that! We should just respect our bodies’ sense of hunger and thirst. After all, our bodies are much smarter than we think.

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  • Patrick
    March 3, 2015 - 9:03 AM | Permalink

    This is such bullshit I can’t even believe it. No wonder so many people fail at dieting when there is such crap on the internet. “Calories found in natural, whole foods eaten until your body feels full can never make you gain weight.” I just laughed so hard when I read that.

    There is plenty of research out there that shows that if you are in a calorie deficit you will lose weight (and consequently fat) no matter what, all the time, period. Ever hear of the guy recently who went on a twinkie/junk food diet and lost 27 lbs? If you eat 5000 calories a day of “natural, whole foods” you will gain weight, always, no matter what (until you’re so fat that you need 5000/day just to maintain).

    Personally I have lost about 70 lbs just by counting calories. Sure some of that is probably muscle, but losing some muscle is unavoidable. I know just from looking at myself that I have lost a ton of fat. I do try to eat a good balance of fat, protein, and carbs when possible, but it isn’t always possible and it always is more time and work. Often it is easier to eat a frozen dinner that says exactly the nutritional content on the box. I know for a fact that those 70 extra lbs were going to cause me a lot more health problems than eating a bit too much processed food.

    Of course it is good to eat whole, natural foods and to eat less processed food and to maintain a good balance of macro-nutrients, but sorry, no one is better than the laws of thermodynamics. If you use more energy then you consume you will lose weight.

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