More Proof Calorie Counting Doesn’t Work

calorie counting
And you thought the politics were on a break. There’s a whole other debate going on.

Are you in the calorie counting doesn’t work camp or the calorie counting is king cult?

Have you asked any of the following calorie counting questions?

  • How many calories will this burn?
  • What’s the best fat-burning exercise?
  • How many calories do I need to burn a week to lose a pound?

Have you had a fitness instructor tell you any of these?

  • You should burn at least 300 calories per session.
  • This boot camp will torch xxx calories per hour!
  • If you burning 500 calories a day and eat 500 calories less a day that’s 1000 calories toward losing a pound (3500 kcals) and a you’ll lose a couple pounds a week.

Then you of course are part of the calorie counting culture. It’s hard not to be with numerous messages coming at you.

A 2018  study showed that there is no universal weight loss approach works for all individuals. There is a wide variability in weight loss response to low fat, low carb and some diets work better for some individuals than others.

You will not lose weight following a strict “diet” though you may, if you work with a blueprint, find your right approach. DNA may have something (a lot, actually) to do with it.

What DNA testing told me

After 54 years on the planet and 36 years as a fitness enthusiast I’ve found by trial and error much of what my DNA testing confirmed about me:

  • I do best with a lower fat diet.
  • I also get more “fit” faster with endurance exercise.

There goes that excuse to add guacamole to everything.

Though I eat a considerable amount of fat now compared to my habits even a decade ago, I don’t follow a high fat diet. I have a predisposition for issues with high saturated fat so I avoid it (although research in the last 10 years has revealed saturated fat is not the villain it once was: it’s the combined intake of increased processed carbs and saturated fats that is deadly). I also do a considerable amount of strength training (relative to total exercise time, not a lot of time per week) because I love my bones and I need muscle. Any woman of 30 who is not weight training should start. Yesterday.

But for me, strength training “more” is just wasted energy. Thank goodness I didn’t have aspirations of becoming a body builder.

You need to know you, and your DNA, if you really want the whole scoop on your exercise programming. If you know the exercise (or diet changes) you’re doing matter, you’re going to be far more committed to doing them. It’s the age-old, what’s measured matters.

calorie counting





I don’t love taking pills or supplements any more than you. But I regularly test my micronutrient levels … and for good reason. I’ve found that I’m predisposed to deficiencies in Vitamin D, magnesium, B6 and B12, as well as have a tendency toward a less-than-optimal Omega 6:3 ratio. Thankfully, I’ve been taking D, Omega 3, and additional magnesium as well as a multi that provides significant levels of B vitamins.

Having my DNA results (for life! They’re not going to change!) I’ll be able to more consciously track my energy, tolerance to stress, and check B levels diligently to determine if I need to supplement. My iron levels also showed up on my DNA. Go figure, I can blame my parents for that one. I’ve always been in low range of healthy and suffer a little at altitude as a result. Ego hit: I’m a poor adapter to altitude.

What About Calories?

The study on calories, publishedin JAMA, may kick calorie counting to the curb. It found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.

Do you have a low fat genotype or a low carb genotype?

Does it matter?

Before you test DNA, based on this study, it’s important first to have a high quality diet. It’s important that you’re willing to commit to that. Subjects in this study were all from the Bay area, well educated, with access to plentiful high quality food.

They didn’t eat potato chips, or pop, or muffins. They chose brown rice, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. The fats they chose were olives, avocado, nut butters and grass-fed pasture-raised animal foods.

If Not Calorie Counting What’s A Girl To Do?

Step 1: Flip the carbs you are eating for better carbs, and the fats you’re eating for better fats.

Step 2: Change your food timing to improve hormone balance.

Step 3: Start exercising.

Step 4: Test your DNA and find out what your genetics suggest about additional nutritional changes, testing for micronutrients you may be deficient in, and your optimal exercise programming by consulting with a coach.

Results did show consistent effects of the diets on cholesterol levels. Healthy low carb diets increased HDL and triglycerides decreased. Healthy low fat diets favored improved LDL (decreased) levels. Note: calorie counting does nothing necessarily to influence these outcomes. You’ve got to go deeper.

HDL = “Happy” cholesterol

LDL = “Lousy” cholesterol

The quality of food strategy worked for people (subjects average age: 40) whether they followed diets that were mostly low in fat or mostly low in carbohydrates. Further, their success did not appear to be influenced by their genetics or their insulin-response to carbohydrates.That may sound conflicting to my suggestion to gather all your personal information, but I still stand that the more you know, the better you’ll be able to choose.

The Flip on Calorie Counting

It isn’t all calories in calories out. Quality counts. For a woman in peri-menopause and beyond hormones play a big factor. Your “healthy” is not someone else’s healthy. Your gut health (impacted by what you eat and stress and exercise) influences your hormones.

Your genetics do predispose you and yet your actions in your environment change the expression of those genetics. Learn more about genetics and coaching based on your results here.

While in the midst of writing this blog a subscriber shared an article outlining a study published featuring low carb diets may support weight loss maintenance. (I’ve included it in resources).

Here’s how I responded:

Fact: Low fat and low carb diets do EQUALLY WELL when the quality of the diet is changed.

Fact: For women 50+ (My ONLY focus at Flipping 50) hormone status of the woman must be taken into account and diet outcomes must positively influence body fat or it simply doesn’t make long-term success a possibility. Energy expenditure was shown to increase on a low carb diet in the study shared however, body composition change wasn’t documented in the study.

That’s a gap.

There’s not large probability that this research is directly applicable to a women in peri-menopause and beyond given the 18-65 year old male and female subjects. That’s not to say it won’t work, but there’s no direct correlation that can be made.

Always ask:Was this done on women just like me?”

Weight is relatively easy to lose following any number of plans regardless of who you are genetically if you follow a moderate intake high quality diet.

What we want to know is does it reduce body fat and maintain lean… in WOMEN in peri-menopause and beyond? Few are addressing and advocating for Flipping 50 women. That’s ALL we do here.

Genetics may or may not play a role in diet.

In my case they do. Strongly. For myself and the clients and colleagues who have tested genetic markers there’s a correlation between the predispositions and the right exercise and nutrition that provides them with results.

Having a Hard Time Giving Up Calorie Counting?

I get it. We crave structure. How ironic! As much as we don’t like rules and limits, we do operate best with them much of the time. There’s truth in the fact structure provides freedom. So if you’re having a hard time actually knowing where to start if you’ve been a calorie counting, point tracking gal for a long time, you are not alone. Work with a coach, whether privately or in a group, to help you make the shift. This is a multiple times of day activity that has a major impact on your living your best life.

Ready to test? If you’re reading this during our week of feasting, my DNA Gold package is on sale. You can read more about it and what the results will tell you here. Use Gold50 for a limited time: it ends Cyber Monday.

calorie counting or genetics

Stay tuned! If you’re intrigued about DNA testing I’ll be sharing what I learned from DNA testing I did using each of our three test options.

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