Calorie Counting vs Intuitive Eating


Everyday we are exposed to the topic of diets in some form, be it the latest copy of Hello, a feature in Daybreak or a girlie conversation at work (couldn’t help myself).  The result is that we find ourselves drowning in a sea of contradiction with huge billboards endorsing low fat milk (endorsed by sports personalities) and other health experts telling us that in fact, whole milk is better for you.

True we live in an information age but your original search term if misinformed will lead you down a blind alley.  So this is your search term:

Calorie counting versus intuitive eating

There, get searching or alternatively read the rest of this post.

So calorie counting was the original method of leading a healthy lifestyle.  It remains the old school method adopted by bodybuilders and performance specialists.  Tried and tested and seems to work for most people.  The simplest way to work it out…well there isn’t but let’s give it a go:

I weigh 150 lbs (yes pounds) therefore my minimum calorie requirement to stay alive is that times 10 so 1500 calories.  I then add my daily activity; I am moderately active so I need to add 50% to this figure.

1500 + 750 = 2250

So daily I need 2250 calories.  Thus, if I need to ‘lose weight’ I need to create an energy surplus and restrict my consumption to something like 2000.  Thereafter, I look for a food database like that on ‘MyFitnessPal’ and start creating my meal plan.

In reality this method I believe only works if you guarantee your surplus by keeping your calories down to 1500.  It’s important to remember that based on this method a calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from whether it comes from a slice of lettuce or a chocolate bar.  President of B2C Fitness Brent Brookbush MS says in his book Fitness or Fiction:

No matter what you eat, if energy input is more than energy output you will gain weight.  Heck you could gain weight eating lettuce (Fitness or Fiction, The Truth about Diet and Exercise, p.5)

So that’s the calorie counting method.

As for intuitive eating then this a totally different kettle of fish and forms the basis of many of the new diets we hear about today.  It takes into account the type of calories we consume as not all calories are created equal.  To put this into perspective, a banana contains 100 calories as does 5 brazil nuts.  On the other hand a ‘weight watchers’ chocolate digestive biscuit contains just 40 calories.  So, logically speaking which of these foods is the healthiest? Precisely!

Intuitive eating doesn’t just focus on calorie quality but with also dealing with our psychological approach to food, responding to hunger signals, dealing with them and making the right food choices.  Scott Sonnon said it perfectly in a recent facebook post:

‘If you feel satisfied, but not full, a little hungry, but not ravenous, most of the day, then you’ve probably found the right balance of macronutrients (lean proteins, complex carbs and good fats.)’

In essence I am putting any diet that isn’t inherently calorie controlled under the intuitive eating label and these include extreme methods like Atkins where an entire food group is eliminated as well as some more attractive approaches like Paleo, the Harcombe Diet, the Hay Diet and GI.

So, and stay with me, it is my longest post to date, before beginning any ‘diet’ we ask ourselves which approach to nutrition is this?  Calorie counting or intuitive eating?  Remember, with the latter there isn’t technically any counting just food selection and vague portion control, hence you do not look at labels.  If however you are counting then whether it is cheesecake or tuna it doesn’t matter as long as you stay beneath your target intake.

In addition may I also recommend a better post on this subject and I also advise you to read the accompanying comments as they show people’s real life experiences with nutrition.

As for my view then I am now believing in calorie counting again as the best initial step towards developing an awareness of what goes into our system.  On this basis I have created a 1500 calorie/day diet plan geared towards weight loss, although most of the products are only available in UK stores.  Click the link to download it now.

Purposeful Training, Part 5: Overtraining? More like improper training!

Practically everyone that has lifted weights for a considerable amount of time has incurred some sort of injury, ache, pain or niggle through ‘overtraining’.  Is that what you call it?  For starters you’re probably lifting weights for too long, then you want to be thinking that perhaps you weren’t training too hard, just doing it wrong!  Pointlessly lifting heavy.  Doing bicep curls with a hip jerk which would have made you a champion bicep curl jerker but probably did nothing to give you proportionally shaped arms.

So purposeful training is about training in a way that is true to form and good form even if it means we don’t break PBs.  Training in a manner that we stay injury free.  Shoulder injuries are amongst the most common in the gym and worst still we try and address it through cable internal rotations.  Hello! Practically all the exercises you’re doing are involving internal rotation of the arm.  As Charles Poliquin explains in this article it is often an imbalance between subscap and supraspinatus leading to such an injury.

The sucbcap assists in internal rotation so is probably too strong.  Hence you want to work the supraspinatus through lateral raises or better still ‘scaptions’ demoed by another great trainer Brent Brookbush

Another issue is that the muscles linking the arm to the torso collectively become so tight that the whole of that joint capsule carries a fragile sign.  Your shoulder needs to move with mere momentum as demoed in this great video

This is just an insight into correct form and how to lessen the chance of getting injured whilst still blowing smoke in your workout.  It shows that just aiming to strengthen isn’t enough and in fact counterproductive.  A good trainer has a better idea of getting this balance right.  A bad trainer doesn’t have a scooby doo.  I endeavour to become from amongst the first group which is why I like to deem my style of training as purposeful.

Looks like I’ve kocked out a few blogs now so it’s time I got everything organised to make it easier for yourselves.