5 Reasons to Count Calories to Lose Weight

22 Responses

  1. Nick R says:

    I’d also add that most diets in one way or another count calories. Usually, they just have an intricate layer on top that obfuscates the calorie counting. (Point systems and what not.)

    The simple fact of the matter is that you can’t lose weight without reducing calories, and counting calories is the most direct method.

  2. Tyler says:

    Exactly. Even if you’re doing Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, Atkins, etc, you’re not eating 5,000 counting calories a day. You’re still watching what you eat and exercising.

  3. Art says:

    I agree with everything you said but I would like to add one comment about Weight Watchers. Once you meet your goal weight (either the weight that WW thinks you should be based on your height or a weight that your doctor says is good for you) then you can attend meetings for free from that point on. Lots of people regain on any diet and WW is no exception but at least with this benefit you have a little more support during maintenance.

  4. Melody says:

    I’ve found that counting calories is more sustainable than anything else I’ve ever tried. I had some success losing with South Beach and thought I could make that “Lifestyle Change” but I just love fruit and bread too much (and those things are good for me!!). I fell off the wagon and gained most of the weight back. When I count calories, I’m not deprived of anything. It’s been successful and so very easy for me so far and it’s definitely something I know I can keep up.

  5. MikeW says:

    I am counting calories because it works. I saw Tyler’s success and realized it just made sense. Also, counting calories makes me think about what I put into my mouth, and has helped me to change a lot of the bad habits that contributed to my weight gain over the years. Counting not only the calories that I consume, but the ones I burn exercising has been a motivator to make regular exercise a part of my life now.

    Counting keeps me accountable for my eating. I DON’T think that I can just eat anything I want as long as I don’t exceed my daily limit–I have to plan to make sure that the calories I consume are the best calories for my body. I strive to hit a reasonable balance of carbs, fat, and protein on a daily basis.

    Counting allows me to enjoy the occasional deviation while remaining focused on my health goals overall. It has taught me about moderation and portion control. I am much more aware now to what a “serving” is.

    In less than four months I have dropped 40 pounds. I fooled myself into believing I could not lose weight since 15 years of “trying” never seemed to get me anything more than 10 pounds, on a good “try”. I count calories because it works.

    Eat less. Eat right. Move more.

  6. Tyler says:

    You do get to attend meetings for free, but isn’t it true if you deviate from your weight by just 2 pounds they start charging you for the meetings again?

  7. Shannon says:

    I count calories, too, and you’re definitely right about it being practical, logical and sustainable. However, you’re a little bit off on Weight Watchers — at least the WW POINTS plan, which basically is just counting calories. I can explain it in one sentence: Depending on your weight-loss goals, you can eat a certain number of POINTS per day, and the POINTS are based on the nutritional content of the foods you choose. Granted, POINTS factor in stuff like fat, fiber, etc., not just calories, but it’s basically the same thing, and it taught me how to eat the foods I like in moderation and think about what I’m putting in my body every day. I do count calories now (although I still kind of use the POINTS system as a guideline), but I lost almost 60 pounds on WW a few years back and kept it off because it taught me to eat — and look at food — differently. (However: There is an alternate WW plan where you can eat as much as you want of certain, approved foods — I think that’s a bizarre plan and doesn’t teach you anything about eating well) But with the plan I did, you eat real food and don’t have to buy pre-packed meals or spend a ton of money — you just have to choose wisely. Now, should you have to pay a monthly fee to do that? No, but for someone who doesn’t know much about nutrition, it’s a great tool/starting point to learn how to make smart choices.

  8. Tyler says:

    Yeah, I love bread and fruits too — not being able to have any, or being excluded from ANY food ever again, is just too restrictive and not very practical.

  9. Tyler says:

    Well said. That should be the slogan of anybody trying to lose weight: eat less, eat right, move more. People want to make it more complicated for various reasons, mainly though so that they can continue living how they’d like without any consequences.

  10. Niita says:

    BUT- how do I do it?! I get so dang overwhelmed! I have 3 kids and I try to stay home to get myself on track, but do I need to make a list of everything in my kitchen’s calorie content, and then make a meal based on that? I had a terrible weekend. And last week was my first week. I seriously see why I always fail. I just get so mad at myself. I want this bad- but how do I achieve it? I think I sure do need to count calories- I’m just kinda lost on where to start…

  11. Melody says:

    Nitta- I start by planning my whole day ahead of time. Every meal and snack is planned and calories charted. I try not to go beyond that unless I have free calories left over. I wouldn’t be able to do it if I was making decisions on the fly. When I go out to eat, I try to do research on nutrition of menu items before I go. If I can’t do that, then I figure out what kind of food they have and get general calorie estimates ahead of time. It’s a lot of work ahead of time, but I’m learning now and will probably be able to stop being so planful eventually. However, the work is DEFINITELY paying off.

  12. amy says:

    i used fitday or sparkspeople to count. it is the only way i have ever been successful. i did loose a fair amount on low carb for my sissy’s wedding. didnt’ last. i still try and balance toward more carbs when i diet but only because that is what works for me but not ‘low carb.’ exercise is impt for so many reasons but has never really helped me that much in the weight loss dept.

  13. SK says:

    I count calories because otherwise I have no idea what impact exercise has made on what I can eat for the day. If I burned, say, 400 calories in a workout – what does that mean I can eat? Have I already gone over my limit and so I should stick to only water or can I eat the banana?

  14. Tyler says:

    Thanks for the clarification. Instead of learning points though, why not just learn calories instead? I’m not asking you, specifically, but just in general. Is counting points easier to learn than counting calories?

    I’m honestly curious, as while I’ve researched Weight Watchers, I’ve never actually used it.

  15. Tyler says:

    You don’t need to be that extreme and make a list of calories of everything in your kitchen, but just count as you go along. You know any veggies have their calorie information on the side of every can (and if you’re buying fresh, not canned, you can just assume it’s fairly low).

    Just know that you don’t need to drink any calories (drink diet soda or plain water) and eat less if you have a meal that is high in calories. You’ll lose weight!

  16. Tyler says:

    With a lot of these things you can definitely lose weight, especially with low carb — but it’s temporary. It’s also a constant battle to try not to eat bread for the rest of your life, which is why counting calories (simple moderation) is the way to go.

  17. Tyler says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily look at it that way. I wouldn’t eat the calories you burn (unless you really want that piece of pie tonight or had a big meal you want to burn off), I would just stick to a certain amount of calories a day (2,000, 1,800, whatever) and just burn as many calories as you can without going overboard.

  18. Lisa says:


    I am also a walking, talking billboard for calorie counting. I lost 110 pounds by exercising and counting my calories. It’s easy and it WORKS. The SECRET to losing weight? Burn more than you eat! Seeing it in black and white whole numbers, it’s easy to learn how.

  19. Emily Brown says:

    Once you do start counting calories, it’s honestly shocking how many you consume during the day. Most people have no clue how many calories they’re actually eating — especially when you eat out. I work across town from where I live so I don’t go home for lunch each day. I’ve been bringing my lunch most days of the week and only going out once or twice. We have our fave restaurants that my coworkers and I go to and now that a lot of places offer their nutrition info on their websites, you can get a good idea of what you’re consuming. I know it’s not an exact number but it’s close enough to let you know the damage you’re about to do to your daily intake. I was stunned that one of the meals I liked the most was 1000+ calories. Ignorance really is bliss…but knowledge is power. Now I check the website of the place where we’ll be eating at lunch and search for a healthier option before we even get there. That way, I have a plan, I stick to it and I feel great afterwards.

  20. Art says:

    I am doing WW and I think that counting points is a little harder than just counting calories. If WW was just calorie counting, then they couldn’t get a patent on it 🙂 Yes they really have a patent that says Points = (Cals / 50) + (Fat / 12) – (Fiber / 5) where Fiber is a maximum of 4. So you can see that you are penalized for eating high fat food an rewarded for high fiber. If you notice some of the snack foods that have WW points on the package they are always high fiber to help reduce the points count; personally I think this is cheating for “fake” food so I only deduct fiber when eating “real” food like apples (but not man-made treats). When I am in a hurry I just divide cals by 50 and call it the points. WW is good because of the meeting support (hints and tips) but otherwise to me it is just another form of calorie counting.

  21. Neil says:


    I’m a huge fan of yours, and love reading your posts. I was taken aback a little bit with your comments re: weight watchers. The weight watchers point system is just another way of counting calories. Is it easier? Not necessarily. But, it’s not harder either. It’s just a different method to get the same results….and it DOES work. I’ve kept 50 pounds off over the past 4 years by following the weight watchers program. My personal trainer and i also sat down and figured out how many calories I’m eating a day as it relates to the points….in the end, we discovered that the amount of points I eat daily on weight watchers is the EXACT amount of calories my trainer wanted me to eat anyways….

    I don’t argue with you about the cost of WW….it does cost money. Sometimes this cost makes me accountable, and sometimes I hate that I’m paying. I’ll tell you one thing though….I tried to take 3 months off of it to “do it myself” one time….I had been on the program for 2 years….I knew what I was doing. I gained 25 pounds.

    Being on the program keeps me accountable, so the cost is worth it to me. Also, although it is true you get charged if you are up more than 2 pounds once you become a lifetime member, you are only required to weigh-in once a month. Thus, if you had a bad week, it doesn’t count against your lifetime status…..

    Hope this clarifies things a bit more….I’ve tried every other program out there….they don’t work. WW does…..

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