Health experts are begging us to stop counting calories 31



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Remember those pocket-sized books we carried around that listed the calorific count for every single food item imaginable? Did you ever write a meal plan that started with “Carrot: 41 calories”?

For more than 50 years we have been slaves to the prevailing wisdom of weight loss: counting calories (or kilojoules if you’re more metrically minded), but now experts are asking us to stop.

They say health providers, policy makers and the government need to shift the emphasis away from calories and instead start promoting the nutritional value of foods if we are to rapidly cut rates of cardiovascular disease and curb the rising tide of obesity.

Drawing on published evidence, Drs Aseem Malhotra and James DiNicolantonio and Professor Simon Capewell, argue that clinicians have failed to act for far too long, amid an excessive focus on the calorific content of food by the food and weight loss industries, despite mounting evidence that it’s the nutritional content that matters.

By way of example, Dr Malhotra points out that a can of cola a day, at 150 calories, is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, while four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day (500 calories) has been shown to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

“It is time to stop counting calories, and time to instead promote good nutrition and dietary changes that can rapidly and substantially reduce cardiovascular mortality. The evidence indeed supports the mantra that ‘food can be the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison’,” write the doctors.

They they recommend that the health professionals recommend their patients adopt a high fat Mediterranean-style diet as a god place to start.

Other suggestions include eating more nuts, as it has been estimated that increasing nut consumption by two servings a week could stave off 90,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease in the US alone, and eating more omega-3-rich foods.

Were you a calorie-counter? Do you feel liberated by this call to stop? 

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  1. I invested a lot of years in following the advice of the health experts and weight loss industry.. Slowly but surely my weight increased despite doing the recommended exercise, and eating the recommended diet. Now I eat with my health in mind, and not my weight. I am still overweight, it has been a life long battle for me, but the kilos are slowly falling. My health has improved though, and that is my focus now.

    1 REPLY
    • I’ve been doing the same Roseanne. My biggest triumph was letting go the sugars and fizzy drinks. Very hard for me as I was addicted. Still occasionally have one but not the daily habit. Good luck and good health to you.

  2. I love a mediterranean diet and also love to eat nuts. Gave up the calorie counting years ago after studying about how toxic sugar is

  3. Today Doctors compare Apples and Oranges, they Want a 65 year old to be like a 21 year old, They tell you live Healthy, but prescribe poisonous drugs to You, are they still helping You or the Pharmaceutical Companies, start Comparing a 65 year old to a 65 year old and that is hard enough, we all lived and worked different to each other, a lot of our illness is Mechanical not Medical, and most of that can not be fixed with Pain killers, You got it You got to learn to live with it!!!!!!

  4. I used to count calories! Took my little book everywhere. But like Roseanne the weight hardly moved. Looking back I swear the culprits were the fizzy drinks. They are now warning against them as dangerous to your health. I now look at food in a different way,not as a number. I try to slow my thought processes over eating as well,and revel in whatever I’m eating. Slowly working.

    1 REPLY
    • Yes, guilty of drinking diet fizzy drinks in the bad old days – one a day given the nod by the experts back then. Haven’t touched them in years. Sugar really is the bad guy I believe. Good luck and good health to you too Catharine

  5. Don’t eat salt, eat salt, don’t eat sugar, eat sugar, don’t eat fat, eat fat!!!! Just go away and leave us alone!!!!

  6. As a Type II diabetic on insulin I have to watch my carbs. I must ne doing something right as my HbA1c is good. So calories? No.

  7. I lost 15 kilos 3 years ago by counting calories. I have kept the weight off by monitoring my calorie intake every day. I don’t know any other way I can do it. Everything that goes in your mouth except water has calories. Yes there are good calories and not so good calories but I must admit I still enjoy my occasional not so good calories.

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