Is calorie counting the best way to lose weight?


When you’re trying to lose weight, it can be hard to wade through all the information out there. How do you know which methods work and which methods don’t work, or might even be dangerous?

One method to losing weight that has endured through the years is calorie counting. The idea is simple–add up all the calories you take in over the course of a day without going over a set limit. As long as you burn more calories than you eat, the theory goes, you should lose weight.

On the face, this is a simple idea, but like many things there are pros and cons to actually putting it into practice. Read on and decide if calorie counting can help you.


  1. It’s a simple idea. Count up your calories, don’t go over the limit. Easy to remember. Not a lot of rules to memorize.
  2. It’s not restrictive. Like to eat bread? Are sweets your thing? Want marshmallows for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Hey, as long as you don’t go over your calorie limit for the day, it’s all good, according to this plan.
  3. It’s measurable. In my experience, there are two types of people–those who love numbers and data…and the rest of us. This method of weight loss is great for people who love to track data and measure results. Not getting the results you want? Adjust your calorie limits one way or another, and track how the changes affect your results.


  1. If you’re not a data person, you might get bored with having to track your numbers. Whatever program you use to track, it takes time to look up your food calories. Not everyone has the patience or discipline to do this consistently.
  2. Speaking of discipline, calorie counting can be mistaken for a license to eat whatever you want, as long as you stay under your daily calorie number. While this may actually work for weight loss for a time, it will eventually lead to poor health. Skinny and sick is not the goal–health is the goal.
  3. It’s not fool-proof. Calorie limits that work for one person might not work for another, and there are conflicting studies on calorie restriction, with some saying too few calories cause your body to go into “starvation mode” and hold on to fat, while other studies say you should eat more to lose more weight, and yet other studies say intermittent fasting is the key to health and longevity. Finding what works for you can take a lot of trial and error, and that can be discouraging.

In conclusion, calorie counting is, in theory, a simple, straightforward weight loss method. Calories in < calories out = weight loss. But the realities may work for some people and leave others frustrated.

About the author: Kimberly Paine is a fitness instructor and writer who blogs at She loves helping people get healthy and have fun doing it.


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