Can Calorie Counting Reliance Be Actually Harmful?

People opt for meal prep services with a huge array of goals in mind from building muscle, maintaining health and ensuring a balanced, nutritious intake of food, but by far the most common goal is weight loss.

There are countless different weight loss philosophies out there and the physiology behind losing weight, gaining muscle and maintaining nutritional balance is complex, but a lot of people preparing meal plans for themselves focus on one metric in particular.

The calorie is a unit of energy, typically defined as the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of a gram of water by one degree Celsius. 

A lot of the calories we consume provide energy to power the basic functions of the body (also known as the Basal metabolic rate), some are used to digest and metabolise the food we eat, some are burned during workouts and everyday activity whilst the rest is stored as fat.

It’s commonly the primary metric used in creating weight loss diets because it makes the most sense that the fewer calories you consume (as long as you keep the same amount of nutrients) the more stored fat you burn and the more weight you lose. 

For the most part, this is correct, but it is also an incomplete metric, and relying solely on calorie counting can be harmful, particularly because it can create the illusion that all calories are identical.

Generally, rather than focus on lowering calorie count, make sure that every calorie counts and is filled with as few ultra-processed foods as possible and as many nutrients as your body needs.

This combined with a strong exercise regime, a healthy sleep routine and reducing your stress as much as possible can be far more effective than attempting a heavily calorie-restrictive diet.

Essentially, the calorie is a good starting point for exploring weight loss, but much like how weight loss is not the be-all and end-all of health, the calorie is not the only part of dieting that matters.