- “Calories don’t matter.”
- “You’ll never gain weight as long as you eat the right types of foods.”
- “Your body can’t gain weight if you don’t eat carbs because it keeps your insulin levels in check.”
That’s just a taste of the bullshit I read and believed when I first started dieting.
Till this day, I still don’t really understand what the last point means.
What I do know is people have this deep hatred for calories and will do everything in their power to avoid it and chase after shortcuts instead.
So let’s settle it once and for all – can you lose weight without counting calories?
Here’s the only way to lose weight…
The only way to lose weight is by consistently eating in a calorie deficit.
I’ve said it 3455359 times by now but it’s an important fact to establish for this post.
I don’t give a fuck what foods you eat.
This isn’t about what type of foods you’re eating and nutrients. I’m simply saying, if you eat less than you burn, you WILL lose weight.
Now on to the next point.
Calorie counting and weight loss go hand in hand
You can’t lose weight without eating fewer calories.
And you can’t eat fewer calories, without doing some sort of counting/tracking.
Even if you’re one of people who say, “I don’t count calories, I just reduce portion sizes.”
Well guess what, assface?
That’s the same thing.
Reducing portion sizes is the same as counting calories, just worded differently.
Spending all day using your fist and palm to measure shit, doesn’t make you better than someone who counts calories.
It’s just a different way of tracking.
For every “fit pro” out there saying they don’t count calories anymore, I can guarantee they did so with a firey passion in the past.
Only after obsessively tracking calories/macros for 5+ years are they now at the point where they can confidently eyeball their diet more.
Your goal should never be to stop counting calories, it should be….
I don’t believe the goal should ever be to flat out stop counting calories.
The goal should be to spend minimal amounts of time thinking about calories.
If you want to lose weight and maintain a respectable level of leanness, then calories/portion sizes will be something you think about.
You just can’t keep these two competing thoughts out of your mind.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you just can’t eat like a fat ass every day without some sense of awareness around how much you’re eating.
It’s like saying you want to become a hooker but never want to think about the cock.
Realistically losing & maintaining weight without obsessive calorie counting
The way I see it, there are 2 ways to lose weight without crazy amounts of calorie counting:
- Following a strict meal plan where all calories and macros are planned out for you.
- Intuitive eating where you can get through the entire day without thinking much about your calorie intake.
The problem with #1 is you have no freedom. It’s “follow the meal plan or die.” Stray away from the meal plan, you’re on your own.
For that reason, I’m not a huge fan. But I know there are some people who like the structure of meal plans which can help establish the habit of healthy eating and understanding portion sizes.
#2 is where I operate and hope most people can eventually get to.
My hope is you can get to the point where you can go to a restaurant, order a plate of pasta and say, “Ok this probably has 1000 calories, maybe more, but whatever, I’m not going to stress over it.”
That’s real freedom, right there.
5 steps to intuitive and stress-free eating
Step #1 – Cut back on fats and refined carbs
Arguably the simplest thing you do for the biggest results.
If you’re not going to count calories, then you need to cut back on the foods that have the most potential of adding “unnecessary” calories to your diet.
And these are almost always foods high in fats and refined carbs.
A.k.a. Your typical junk food.
So if you’re not going to count calories, you should dramatically cut back on foods like doughnuts and soda.
Which is a good idea on any diet plan, but even more important here since you’re not counting calories.
Do this and it’ll solve 90% of your weight loss problems.
Fruits are fine. Eat as much fruit as you want.
Step #2 – Eat more protein
If you’re not eating as much fat and carbs, guess what you’ll be eating more of?
Pile up on unprocessed animal proteins, ideally without too much fat.
Step #3 – Establish your baseline diet
Your “baseline” is the diet you’ll be starting off with.
You can choose your meal frequency and the exact foods you eat.
For example, a baseline for you might be:
- 2 meals per day
- 2 pieces of fruit
So every day, you will eat 2 solid meals and 2 pieces of fruit. Those are your “rules” for the day.
For these 2 meals you can be pretty generous with the amount of food you eat since meal frequency is so low.
So I’ll pile up on the protein, real carbs like potatoes, and minimal fat.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=”Meal Frequency Note”]
The higher your meal frequency, the less full you’ll be at the end of each meal (e.g. if you eat 6 meals per day, you should NOT feel stuffed at the end of each meal).
The lower your meal frequency, the more full you’ll be at the end of each meal (e.g. if you eat one meal per day, you’ll be pretty stuffed at the end of the one meal but you’ll likely feel hungry at other points of the day).
Step #4 – Tweak Tweak Tweak
Step #4 is so so important.
Don’t fuck it up.
Most people fuck it up. Don’t be most people.
Once you have a baseline to work off of, you need to tweak and adjust your diet.
You should go into this way of eating 100% expecting that you won’t lose weight the first 1-2 weeks.
If you do lose weight, awesome.
If you don’t, don’t be disappointed.
I will fuck slap you in the face if you message me complaining how you didn’t lose weight the first week.
Luckily making tweaks is easy:
Here are the easiest ways to you can make:
- Eliminate liquid calories like soda and juice.
- If you’re drinking more than 5 (alcoholic) drinks per week, cut it back to 1-2.
- Stop snacking. People tend to underestimate how quickly a “handful of nuts” here and a “couple of chips” there can add up.
- If you’re not, try eating just one big meal per day. I talk more about eating once per day here.
The more you tweak your own diet, the more you learn about what your body needs and your unique quirks.
Step #5 – Staying consistent
Most people think that just because they bought new supplements or hired a personal trainer, that all their problems will be solved.
But money doesn’t solve a lack of discipline.
When you have a problem like “I need to lose weight,” the only thing you can do that will guarantee success is testing and tweaking.
Test a diet to see if it works, then tweak it if it doesn’t. Rinse and repeat forever.
That’s dieting success in a nutshell.
And the only way you can keeping testing and tweaking is by staying consistent and disciplined.
You will never get the chance to tweak your approach to dieting if you’re not consistent.
So even if a diet doesn’t work at first, don’t give up hope.
The sole act of not giving up and modifying your approach puts you ahead of pretty much everyone else.
- Cut back on fats and refined carbs (aka. Junk food)
- Eat more protein
- Establish your baseline diet.
- Tweak your baseline if you’re not losing weight
- Stay consistent
Calories matter. How much they matter is up to you.
The cool thing about counting calories is you can take it as far as you want.
If you’re an elite level athlete or bodybuilder, you’ll have be more precise with everything related to your diet. The 5 steps I outlined above will likely not work well for you.
But if you’re just trying to lose/maintain weight and look good, then it’s definitely possible to do so without obsessive calorie counting.
How do you approach counting calories? Let me know in the comments.
For a complete step-by-step training and nutrition program on building your best possible physique, check out Superhero X12.