I see it everywhere. People saying that losing weight is simply a matter of eating fewer calories than you burn. They say it doesn’t matter what you eat or when you eat, only how many calories are in it and how many calories you burn.

The Calories-In-Calories-Out Lie is complete and utter….er malarkey.

First off, a calorie is the amount of energy required to raise a gram of water one degree Celsius. If that tells you nothing about food, don’t worry, your body doesn’t understand it either. A flame in a lab is much better at incinerating food to measure calories than your body is. The higher the fiber content of food the greater the likelihood that your body can’t access all the measurable calories.

Secondly, when you eat too few calories consistently over a period of time, your body adjusts your metabolize downward. Humans are designed to survive a famine. Using portion control and calorie restriction will make your body believe there is a famine. That is why so many people struggle with their weight plateauing and then starting to creep back up, even though their calories intake and expenditure have not changed.

Thirdly, not all calories are created equally. Some come attached to nutrients that your body can use, others are empty and next to useless. Consider 100 calories worth of broccoli compared to 100 calories worth of soda/pop. The calorie count is exactly the same.

The broccoli is loaded with fiber (meaning some of the calories are hard to extract), requires chewing (burning calories), has to be further broken down in the digestive tract (burning calories) and has nutrients your body can use. Then the fiber grabs on to toxins to carry them out of the body with it.

The soda/pop – is swallowed down with no chewing required. The sugar is easily absorbed, spiking your blood sugar. If it’s a diet drink, your body gets confused about expecting calories but getting none and makes you eat more later. The chemicals become part of the toxic soup waiting to be picked up by exiting fiber. Unfortunately, these 100 calories didn’t come with any fiber. So the toxins might get reabsorbed and have to be filtered out of the system again.

You body cares about nutrition, not The Calories-In-Calories-Out Lie.

Instead counting calories, try this:

Eat real food, not fake food designed to make a company money. Pay attention to calorie density compared to nutrition density. You want as much nutrition per calorie as you can get. Recognize and address your emotional, Pavlovian and stress relationship with food. Eat when you're hungry and stop before you are stuffed.

If that last paragraph sounds like something you’d like to do, but you aren’t sure where to start, click this link to book a free 20-minute chat with Dr Robyn to discuss how coaching or becoming a member of the Whole Food Muscle Club can help you avoid the Calories-In-Calories-Out Lie.

Want to stay on top of all things food, fasting and fitness? Join the Whole Food Muscle Club today. Your future self will thank you.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.