Calorie Counting

Posted on: February 7th, 2014 by Hayley James No Comments


The history of calorie counting dates back to the early 20th century. It became popular because of various diet books which claimed that it’s all about calories.

During that time, a scientist, Wilbur Atwater, also observed that food put in a machine (known as bomb calorimeter) and burned can  measure how must energy was released— by measuring the ash and heat. Thus, people started counting calories and the notion spread —calculate how many calories are consumed when eating food and how much is burned when engaged in activities or exercise.

Ever since then, calorie counting is used in weight loss programs.

But there are those on the other side of the fence which would argue that counting calorie content is not the be-all and end-all for choosing what to eat. For instance, eating food that contains lots of fiber generally amounts to a lot more calories, however because these types of foods keep you feeling full longer they prevent you from taking in "extra" calories. This is just one theory that offers different criteria for choosing food and that counting the calorie content may not be the only method. 

Betsy Klein, RD, LD, a Miami-based dietitian has this to say, ”The benefit of choosing fruits, vegetables, and other lower-fat foods is that you get more bang for your buck. Carbohydrates and protein have 4 calories per gram, while fats have more than twice as much — an entire 9 calories per gram. (Alcohol weighs in at 7 calories per gram.) If you're counting calories to lose weight, but eating higher-fat foods like bacon and full-fat cheese, you could potentially consume over half your day's calorie allotment by the end of breakfast. Choosing carbs and protein for your morning meal, on the other hand, like an egg white omelet stuffed with mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and a small amount of low-fat cheese, will leave you with calories to spare for meals and snacks beyond breakfast.”

Now, this can be complicated for some people—keeping watch of how many calories per food serving and so on. But more and more people are getting used to calorie counting rather than trying to understand the varied effects food has on our bodies. And in fact, calorie-counting is not at all the whole picture.  In fact there are other things to consider like your mindset, your lifestyle, your support system within your family and your community and so much more. 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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