Is Calorie Budgeting Right for Everyone?
I encourage you to read it but here’s the summary:
- It’s difficult to track foods without labels—making you either guess or skip enjoying them.
- Calorie counting/exercise can become obsessive.
- Focusing on calories may tempt you to make poor choices (eating a overly processed lean cuisine over high calorie (but nutritious) avocado)
These are good criticisms. I would even consider them common objections held by many. I’d like to respond to each criticism, but first:
- Brittany does defend ‘calorie counting’ as a good tool.
- Brittany is obviously more healthy than I am. So you can call BS on my response. I’m thick skinned (seriously).
- People can get healthy without counting a single calorie.
Okay, here are my criticisms of her criticisms.
Criticism 1: It’s difficult to track foods without labels—making you either guess or skip enjoying them.
Yes, without a tool like MyFitnessPal, it would be difficult to track foods without labels. I would not be an advocate of budgeting calories without those tools any more than I would try to build a house without a hammer.
And it’s important to note that all calories (either consumed or burned) are estimates anyway. So if the thing you’re searching for isn’t in myfitnesspal (such as Aunt Elvira’s Tuna Surprise, I’m sure a close equivalent is.
Criticism 2: Calorie counting/exercise can become obsessive.
Yes–but this is more a criticism of the individual than the plan. I’ve obsessed about overeating—and an equal/opposite obsession is not necessarily healthy.
It’s not Krispy Kreme’s fault that I ate 5 donuts. It’s not MyFitnessPal’s fault that I obsess over my calorie budget.
If you tend to obsess about anything—any diet will give you it’s strict rules. You’ll obsess about carbs, or whether or not something is “clean”, or organic, or paleo-.
As I’ve said before, if counting/budgeting calories is a trigger for any mental health issue like an eating disorder, take the advice of a doctor—not me or anyone else.
Criticism 3: Focusing on calories may tempt you to make poor choices
So you could either eat a 200 calorie Lean Cuisine ravioli or a 400 calorie bowl of guacamole and carrots. Obviously the pasta popsicle right?
If you opt for the convenience of the frozen meal you could be packing on a ton of salt, the logic goes, at the cost of all the wonderful benefits of avocado.
The way this criticism is worded reveals a value held by the author—namely, that it is better to eat natural, “clean” foods compared to overly processed, preservative-laden food.
There is good advice there—and supporting evidence. He criticized it and got slammed.
But it’s really an argument about food quality—not budgeting calories. You could eat twinkies (RIP) for breakfast, lunch and dinner and still lose weight.
In the beginning, you may make poor choices in a calorie budget and find out quickly that a slice of pizza is OK calorie-wise but doesn’t satisfy you for hours like chicken, shrimp and a side salad might.
But sometimes the pizza tastes good. And sometimes the Lean Cuisine is convenient.
Also, I suspect, as one’s body changes, one’s cravings and priorities begin to change. So in year I may be talking about my kimchi binges. But don’t hold your breath.
While Brittany brings up good points, I still think you should budget calories whether you eat clean or not. Why?
I expect certain results from my body within a specific amount of time.
So as the CEO of this Bod, I’m going to not just worry about the product, but the whole assembly line, including accounting. If you get my metaphor gimme an aww hell yeah!