I have to be honest—I hate calorie counting.
After years of being a sedentary, indoor desk-worker and one bad bulk and one bad cut—I had lost my abs and now had more stubborn belly-fat than I was happy about.
I wanted to find a solution. As a naturally skinny guy, I was out of my wheelhouse and started looking for top-tier programs to help me to lean out properly.
The only problem is that every program I came across (and every program I bought) talked specifically about counting calories and counting macros.
“Get abs in 12 weeks.”
Okay, you’ve got my attention.
“Inside the program, I’ll send you the exact calories and the exact macros you need to eat daily and specific meal plans.”
Yikes, no thanks.
I wanted to learn how to get my six-pack back while eating like a normal human being—not like a robot and certainly not like a child where someone else has chosen what I’ll eat.
I wanted to learn how to get leaner and stronger while eating foods I loved, foods that made me healthy, and foods that left me satisfied and full.
I am lazy, but I’m not afraid of hard work to get what I want. (I guess I’m technically a slacker.) So:
- I would rather lift more than making small plates and stop eating before I’m full.
- I would rather do more HIIT than weigh my food before eating.
- I would rather go for a walk than spend one more menial minute tallying the food I ate on my phone.
After reading tons and tons of studies for ideas, eventually, I found a solution that was delicious, helped me bust through my plateau in the gym, and helped me lean out. In the first month, I simultaneously gained four pounds and lost an inch on my waist. This new way, no doubt, made me healthier too.
Not only did I find this new method easier—but I also found it way more effective than counting calories. This method got even more refined when I read Dr Naiman’s P:E Ratio book about the difference between eating stored energy versus eating minerals/fibre/amino acids etc.
My worse cut and my worst bulk were when I was counting calories.
My best cut and what I’m doing today when I am reaching new PRs was when I ate relying on these new principles with my intuition.
Why did counting calories not work out for me?
Well, there are a ton of problems:
- Listed calories on boxed foods are legally allowed to be off by 20%. That’s enough to put you into a bulk when you’re trying to cut. Or massive fat-gain while trying to do a cautious bulk.
- Boxed foods were often way more inaccurate than the 20% legal limit. Surprise! Some foods were nearly 50% more calories than listed (and very rarely ever under calories.)
- Tracking calories makes you dependent on tracking. It leaves you in the dark whenever you’re normal and visit your family, friends, or the restaurant to eat. (Calories also can’t teach you *what* to eat when you go to the restaurant.)
- Calories don’t take into diet-induced-thermogenesis (DIT) into account. As much as 30% of protein gets burnt off as heat, making 100 calories into only 70 true calories. It doesn’t account for DIT and timing, such as eating food earlier in the day, making DIT upwards of 250% more powerful than eating later at night.
- Calories give you licence to eat shitty foods and pretend it’s the same as real food. What’s the difference between 100g of chips and 80g of mixed nuts? Or 300 calories from McDonald’s french fries and 300 calories from homemade potatoes? According to the calorie tracker—nothing.
- Calories aren’t the sole factor in feeling full—volume, stretch, chewing, fibre, etc., all impact fullness. You can track calories to the T and feel miserably hungry. You can *not* track calories and feel full while burning fat.
- Calories ignore the principle of nutrient timing. Calorie tracking sees no problem with a desk worker eating a calorie surplus when he’s about to sit for 8 hours straight. It sees no problem with eating a calorie deficit after lifting weights as long as you hit your daily calorie goals.
Those are some reasons I’ve fallen out of love with counting calories.
Now, there are some people who still love counting calories. That’s fine too. They actually *enjoy* tracking calories. In that case, it seems to work best for those who love tracking numbers and love weighing their foods. It can work especially well for those with a low-stress in their life and are willing to eat a low variety of foods in their diet (such as cooking bulk meals and warming up the same meal for each lunch throughout the week). And so we still teach this method as a back-up for those whose personality quirks align with it.
So what do you do if you’re skinny-fat and want to learn how to burn off 15–20 pounds of fat while hitting new personal records when lifting?
And you hate counting calories? Then I suggest you grab the True Gains program. These are the same workouts and principles that both Abiel and Jason used to lean out while becoming their strongest yet and hitting new PRs. They’re crushing it.
Here’s the link to join: https://outliveforever.com/true-gains/