I get asked this question all the time by clients/friends etc.

“Do you need to count calories?”

My answer is always the same.

“It depends”.


A calorie is a measurement we use to measure the energy from food.

The amounts have a number of variations applied to them, as not all calories are exact, and its pretty damned hard to be bang on the money in terms of exact amounts of calories in food, but the general amounts are as follows:

Protein 1g = 4kcals

Carbs 1g = 4kcals

Fats 1g = 9kcals

All foods are made up of these, and more, but we are talking about calories at the moment.


The higher the fat in foods, the more calorific they are.

We burn calories just by being. Even laying down and doing absolutely sod all, we burn calories.

As soon as you move, you expend more calories.

When you move a lot, you burn lots more! You can see where I am going with this.

Different body types require more/less calories.

Different job specifications, require different calories.

Ie. if you sit at a desk all day, and your mate is a bricklayer, who is going to burn more calories at work?


I think perhaps some wholefood would do the job?

So get on with it, do we need to count calories?


In my opinion, it depends on who you are and at what stage in your nutrition/fat loss/muscle building/health journey.

For example.

About 3 years ago, I had a shocking background of lazy eating and far too much alcohol consumption, thought I was eating well.

When I decided to pay more attention to my nutrition after realising that I couldn’t beat the diet, did I need to count calories at that specific point?

No, probably not.

What I needed to do, was to being eating whole foods, cut the rubbish which was far too regular, and lower my alcohol consumption. Oh, and of course, because I was weight training AND playing lots of sport, I needed to increase my protein significantly.

Did I see results?


Did I see as optimal results as if I calorie counted? No definitely not.

However, I did completely change.

Does someone who has battled with their weight/fat loss forever and a day, need to count calories?

Generally, in my experience I’d say no.

What I’d get them to do is to follow a set of guidelines to improve their outlook on nutrition as a whole.

They’d increase protein intake, in my opinion a must for most of the population unless you have medical issues preventing you from doing so.

I’d get them to hit a protein target first.

Eat more whole foods which are nutrient dense. Cut out the rubbish more frequently.

Drink considerably more water.

Eat breakfast! (not always necessary, but a lot of people could do a lot better from actually eating a lot more)

And just generally being a little more mindful of what they eat.

Mmmm broccoli. Carbs!
Mmmm broccoli.

I don’t like to put all of my clients on calorie counting diets, as I don’t think its totally necessary for all, but a lot of people, especially those who have hit a fat loss plateau (note I say fat loss, because weight loss is bulls*** and includes lean mass), could do a lot better if they did.

Lots of my clients have become extremely lean from just following some simple dietary changes, without calorie counting. It’s achievable.

I do think however, when you hit a plateau its time to probably count.

Use a tool like MyFitnesspal or Fatsecret (my personal favourite), or be a geek like me and compile a spreadsheet with an average calorie and nutrient quantity of consistently consumed foods.

This might just help you get that extra yard further to where you want.

However, let me just reiterate that you CAN get very lean without calorie counting!

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