The Calorie Counter's Fallacy
Calories are incredibly overrated. Not because the units aren't real. But because the embedded assumptions made by those who count them are Ass Backwards.
These are the main ways calorie counters miss the mark:
1. Calorie lovers operate as if your resting metabolism is fixed. It's not. The more you eat, the faster your metabolism will usually be. The less you eat, the slower your metabolism will usually be. While this doesn't mean go HAM on pizza every night, it does mean that any attempt to estimate your probable weight gain or loss will overshoot the mark due to your metabolic adaptation along the way.
2. A vast majority of energy derived from your food is burned at rest. Yes, this is even true for gym rats. BUT, the amount can be increased through a properly structured training plan. Most people who are actually following strict diets are not eating enough to train at a level that will result in a faster metabolism.
3. Given someone with a fast metabolism will burn over 1,000 calories more per day at rest than someone with a slow metabolism, the goal should be to get a fast metabolism without overeating.
4. Humans have something called hunger signals. They are not random. If you learn how to listen to your body, and you control for sleep, stress, hydration, protein, and sugar intake, it's possible for your hunger signals to be more accurate than calorie estimators.
5. The longer you attempt to count calories, particularly if you're going through an unnatural cut before a bodybuilding show, the more you actually need to count calories. The further you go down the path of extreme dieting, the more disconnected you will be with your body's natural signals.
6. Bodybuilders count calories because you will not be able to get maximally unnaturally lean without counting them. Your body wants to survive, so if you're willing to sacrifice long term health for a 24 hour speedo spray tan photo shoot, go ahead and count them. But if you want to be happy and lean year round, the lowest maintenance path is getting a fast metabolism and naturally auto-regulating your hunger.
7. Calorie labels and burn trackers are wrong. They're off by up to 20% off or sometimes more. They are best utilized by people whose hunger signals are off by even more than 20%. If that's you, then you should probably count calories. But it's not me. And it's not the people I coach.