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Why calorie counting alone does not work?

If you are trying to lose weight by only calculating calories, you are not getting that far. Is it important to remember that different foods cause different reactions in the body, and have different impact on our metabolism and body composition as well.

It is probably easy to understand that if two people both eat every day 500 calories less than they consume, they both might lose weight, but if the other one eats only chocolate and the other person eats protein, vegetables and grains, their body composition and how they look won’t be the same. If you don’t want to be a “skinny fat”, you should take the macros into account as well.

If you want to lose weight and even if you are calculating your calories, you might hit a weight loss plateau (so the moment that your weight is not dropping any more) at some point. Here just a few things to think about:

  • Enough protein? When you eat protein, your body will burn more calories digesting that protein compared to the calories that are used when digesting carbohydrates. So, eating protein increases your energy expenditure and in that way eating protein increases your resting metabolic rate. Proteins are also needed for muscle building so by eating protein you make sure you won’t lose your muscles.

  • The quality of your carbs! The more processed the carb you eat, the less work your body must do in processing it. That means that when you eat white bread or sugar for example, it gets digested very quickly. When you eat less processed carbs, like whole grains, they get digested slower, keeping you full longer, and again, your body will burn more calories digesting it.

  • Negative calories! Surprisingly, you can eat negative calories. That means, that digesting the food burns more calories than the food has in it. Examples of these kind of foods are for example celery, raw broccoli and carrots. So, when you eat a celery, you will burn more calories digesting it than there is in the celery! Amazing isn’t it!

  • Insulin reactions in the body! When you eat sugar, your body releases insulin. If there are constantly high peaks in insulin in your body, you might get insulin resistance and finally type 2 diabetes. It is also very difficult to burn fat if the insulin hormone is constantly present. The more “simple” the carbohydrate is, the more insulin your body will release. So, change your carbs in to complex carbs. Protein and fat are not causing insulin peaks.

  • Sleep! Burning fat happens mostly when we are in a super relaxed state, and that happens usually during our deep sleep. If you are not sleeping enough, that might hinder your fat loss! Lack of sleep also creates sugar and carb cravings and makes us feel hungry even when we are not hungry. So, make sure that you sleep at least 7-8 hours per night if you want to maximize the far burning and stay away from sugar.

  • There are foods that are super antioxidants, packed with vitamins and help us to prevent diseases, makes our immune system stronger and helps our bodies to function as it should. If your body is lacking important micro nutrients, that will also slow down metabolism. That’s why you want to make sure that the food you eat, is nutritious and healthy, not just low in calories.

In the end, it is the quality that matters, not the quantity. In my opinion, being healthy and feeling good and energized should be the primary priorities when it comes to the diet.

But if you want to reduce some kilos and nothing happens even if you eat healthy, then you might need to track your calorie intake and modify your macros. For weight loss purposes and if you do sports, I suggest the following macros:

50 % carbs, 30 % protein and 20 % fat

(please note: the macro ratio is very individual and depends on your activity levels and a little bit on your genes).

If you hit the plateau with these macros, you can decrease the number of carbs by 5-10 % and increase the amount of protein by the same amount. No need to cut the calories, just modify the macros and check the quality of the food you eat!

PLEASE NOTE: Making your diet healthy and eating a healthy lifestyle does not require calorie counting. Only if you are not getting the results you want, I suggest checking your calories and macros.

If you have any question, don’t hesitate to write a comment or email me directly (

Have a healthy week! Best,


P.s. Besides personal training, I also do diet coaching both in Finnish and in English. If you want individual plan and learn a healthier lifestyle for the rest of your life, check out my nutrition coaching packages here.

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