Though many have said this before I have, and as Gary Taubes points out so succinctly in his new book Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It (Affiliate link, meaning, if you click on it and buy Gary's book I make a shekel or two), counting calories is an exercise in futility.
Notice that I did NOT say that if you reduce you caloric intake without altering energy expenditure, you won't lose weight. Of course you will. What I DID say is that it is an exercise in futility.
What this means is, you just can't do it because you can never know what your precise caloric needs are at any given time nor can you precisely determine your exact energy expenditure. And since a mere 20 calorie a day surplus can (supposedly) add up to ~30 extra pounds of fat gain over the course of 30 years, counting calorie is an exercise in _________ (fill in the blank).
Any expert who tells you to count calories in order to lose weight or specifically to lose fat needs to have his forehead gently smacked and made to look around the natural world a lot more closely. He also needs to understand that fat loss is not a numbers game, it a hormonal game. And it is a game that has very strict rules and regulations. If you don't play by them, you don't pass Go and collect your $200.
Animals in the wild are never obese. Their bodies carefully regulate their fat stores as needed. And in case you hadn't noticed, animals never count their calories (yes I know they can't count). What I mean is, they never purposefully restrict the amount of food they eat. They eat when they are hungry. They eat when they need to eat, that is. Even when food is abundant and plentiful, wild animals do not overeat to the point of obesity.
Let me state this loud and clear: No one in the history of human existence ever became obese or even over fat because they stopped counting their calories.
Shall I state that again?
If you eat the foods that you were "designed" or evolved to eat, you will satisfy all of your nutrient requirements with enough food to keep your body fat stores ample but not so much that health is compromised.
Fat is not just blobs of useless goo. Body fat serves many important purposes in our bodies, much more than as a backup fuel source when food is scarce. In short, fat is good. Too much, however, can be bad.
I've said this in other blog posts but it needs to be said again: if you eat a diet rich in wild, grass-fed, free-ranging animals free of chemicals and additives and limit the rest of your diet to other natural foods like seasonal vegetables and seasonal fruits without grains of any kind (no animal on earth eats grains as a staple food), you can't become obese. And if you already are obese, unless a lifetime of eating unnaturally has severely damaged your metabolism requiring medical intervention, all excess body fat will be shed without ever having to count a single calorie in your life.
No - I don't have a single scientific reference to support this claim - unless of course you accept nature and centuries of human evolution as a credible source.
If you are obese or over fat, here are the steps to take:
1. See a qualified bariatric physician that understands what eating real food means. Here is a list of physicians that know their stuff.
2. Remove all grains and grain based foods from your diet. They contribute to hormonal disruption and are the main modern food source that is contributing and causing the obesity and diabetes epidemic.
3. Eat wild, free ranging, grass-fed animals to your hearts content. These foods should make up the bulk of your calorie intake.
4. Eat non-starchy vegetables and fruits seasonally. Consider limiting legumes as well.
5. Perform 1-2 high intensity, short duration resistance training sessions a week. As for activity, do what pleases you but be safe.
Resource books on fats (affiliate links):
So forget about counting your calories. It's a waste of time and energy that is better spent on giving your kitchen a metabolic makeover. Out with the sugar and in with healthy sources of protein and fat.
You can thank me later.