Do calories matter or do you simply need to eat certain foods and that will guarantee you’ll lose weight? Should you count calories or can you just count “portions?” Is it necessary to keep a food diary? Is it unrealistic to count calories for rest of your life or is that just part of price you pay for a better body? You’re about to learn answers to these questions and discover a simple secret for keeping track of your food intake without having to crunch numbers every day or become a fanatic about it.
In many popular diet books, “Calories don’t count” is a frequently repeated theme. Other popular programs, such as Bill Phillip's "Body For Life," allude to importance of energy intake versus energy output, but recommend that you count “portions” rather than calories…
"There aren't many people who can keep track of their calorie intake for an extended period of time. As an alternative, I recommend counting 'portions.' A portion of food is roughly equal to size of your clenched fist or palm of your hand. Each portion of protein or carbohydrate typically contains between 100 and 150 calories. For example, one chicken breast is approximately one portion of protein, and one medium-sized baked potato is approximately one portion of carbohydrate."
Phillips makes a good point that trying to count every single calorie - in literal sense - can drive you crazy and is probably not realistic as a lifestyle for long term.
It's one thing to count portions instead of calories – that is at least acknowledging importance of portion control. However, it's another altogether to deny that calories matter. Is it necessary to count every calorie to lose weight? No. But it IS necessary to eat fewer calories then you burn. Whether you count calories and eat less than you burn, or you don’t count calories and eat less than you burn, end result is same. Personally, I’d rather know exactly what I’m eating rather than take chances by guessing.
I believe that it's very important to develop an understanding of and a respect for law of calorie balance (and portion control). I also believe that it's an important part of nutrition education to learn how many calories are in foods you eat on a regular basis – including (and perhaps, especially) how many calories are in foods you eat when you dine at restaurants.
Yes, calories do count! Any diet program that tells you, "calories don't count" or you can "eat all you want and still lose weight" is a diet you should avoid. The truth is, that line is a bunch of baloney designed to make a diet program sound easier to follow (anything that sounds like work – such as counting calories or eating less - tends to scare away potential customers!)