How Many Calories Do I Need To Lose Weight – Why You Should Stop Counting Calories?

Nowadays people are becoming more and more aware of the concept of counting calories to either lose weight or to keep a health weight. Whenever I start working with a new client, the first question I’m asked is usually “how many calories do I need to lose weight”.


Well! My response to this is always the same: Do you want lose weight eating everything or do you rather a restrictive diet plan that do not work in the long run. Counting calories is very exhausting and very few people can discipline themselves for a long time based only on calorie deficit calculations.


Many give up in the middle of the road. The good news is that there is a healthier, easier, and much more effective way to lose weight than counting calories. In this article “how many calories do I need to lose weight” I will explain why counting calories to lose weight doesn’t work and the best approach to adopt in the weight loss process.


Really! How Many Calories Do I Need To Lose Weight?


What Is A Calorie?

The energy content of food is measured in calories. A calorie, in fact, is a unit of energy and heat. This number represents the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by 1°C with atmospheric pressure of 1 ATM (at sea level). One calorie corresponds to 4.18 joules. This figure also reflects the energy content of food. Our body needs this energy to keep bodily functions active.


How calories counting works?

Traditional nutrition teaches us that to lose weight, we must eat fewer calories than our body spend. That’s rule number one and basically, it’s the definition of caloric deficit. The common explanation is that weight gain is directly associated with the difference between calorie intake and expenditure over days. Losing or gaining weight is the result of simple mathematics. If you gain weight, it is because you are ingesting more calories than you spend;


if you keep the weight stable it is because you eat the amount of calories similar to your daily expenditure; and you lose weight because you’re burning more calories than you eat.


Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is not that simple or easy putting this into practice. As I always say Practice is very different from theory”. This is because the health of our body does not go through simple mathematical equations of summing and subtracting. Each organism has a unique metabolism, that is, it burns calories at its own pace.


Who’s never had a skinny friend who eats until they say enough? Or that friend who, spends their whole life on a diet but never reach their ideal weight? The way the body metabolizes nutrients, and the energy depends on several factors, including the type of food consumed, the metabolism of each person (variable with age, sex, weight, genetics, temperature, state of hunger, time of day, stress, etc.) and even the microorganisms that inhabit our intestines.


Why You Should Stop Counting Calories?


When food calorie counting is our parameter for choosing what we’re going to eat, we’re ignoring a number of biochemical aspects that are much more important than just the amount of calories, and worst: we’re buying into the wrong idea that all calories are the same and that they’re going to act the same way in our body. Moreover, we can never disregard our biochemical individuality, 2000 calories are never the same in the lives of two different people. Several factors influence our energy expenditure including the following:



Each body has a set point that governs its functioning and influences weight. The hypothalamus, located at the base of the brain, is a very important structure that participates in the regulation of metabolism. When it understands that the body is going through a moment of food deprivation, the hypothalamus acts at body temperature and prevents the weight from falling below this setting point. That’s why you may find that your weight is stabilizing, even if you are on a restrictive diet.


This is also why a lot of people lose a lot of weight quickly by drastically cutting calories from food, and then regain it (the so-called Yo-yo effect), because the metabolism is very slow due to food restriction.


Type of food consumed

Your food choices can also influence your energy expenditure, not just the amount of calories consumed. Did you know that we also expend energy when consuming food? About 10% of our energy expenditure is used to digest and metabolize the nutrients of the food. Therefore, counting calories, despite being a very widespread strategy, does not seem to be the best option.


Intestinal microbiota

Many microorganisms live in our gut, and some types can influence the amount of energy of the food absorbed. Thus, changes in our microbiota can influence our weight and contribute to the development of obesity, in addition to other health problems such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome and allergic diseases.


What Is The

Alternative For Those Who Are Tired Of Counting Calories?


When compared to traditional nutrition, functional nutrition is a slightly different method, as it works with biochemical individuality and the effects of food on the body of each individual, being more comprehensive than just establishing diet plan based on calorie counting. This way of employing nutrition has shown even more positive results on health, by producing improvements in the body as a whole.


In order to find out the best foods for each organism, a functional nutrition adviser analyses the biochemical individuality of each person. This process begins with a complete anamnesis which is done through an interview, where some points such as the client’s main complaint, medical and family history, the functionality of the intestine, whether the nails are weak, mood swing, hair loss, premenstrual tension, cellulite, stress and anxiety are all analysed.


The main goal is not to count the amount of calories that will be consumed, but to ingest quality foods such as antioxidant foods, adequate amounts of macro and micronutrients such as vitamins etc. This balanced diet will promote the proper functioning of the body, as well as ensuring the recovery and maintenance of vital functions.


The differences we find in the organisms is because of the genetic individuality that occurs in each one. For example, there are people allergic to nuts, while others make good use of their nutrients. Some need more zinc to produce enough acid in their stomach, while others will have good results with less. Our body works according to the data and nutrients we offer for it. Nutrients, as well as toxins, neurotransmitters and hormones are the information we put into our body daily.


Functional Nutrition v Functional Foods


But be careful, it is very common to confuse the term ‘functional nutrition’ with the use of functional foods. Foods called functional can be fashionable and are misused in a generalized way, that is, consumed by everyone, without the consideration of their history and their acceptance to these foods which, as I have said, varies greatly from one person to another.  They are sold as foods that generate health benefits.


However, no food alone has the power to promote some action in our organism. On the other hand, when consumed consciously and guided by a functional nutrition coach, almost all natural foods together can bring us many benefits.


With functional nutrition guidelines we can have a better look at each client and see them as a human being and not as a machine to follow restrictive diets. We can look at a food and not just see its calories, but its full healing potential for the body. It is to understand that although an avocado is more caloric than a cereal bar, it can bring you more benefits and probably so you will have less chances of increasing weight.


Still Asking Yourself “How Many Calories Do I Need To Lose Weight”


In conclusion, everyone should bet on a healthy and balanced diet, but that does not mean that all organisms will respond in the same way and generate the same results for the same foods or combinations.


Many things influence our weight, and some of them are out of our control, such as genetics, the medication we take and the environment in which we live. In addition, as I said, restrictive diets can often lead to decreased metabolism, leading to weight gain due to the increased appetite, which causes the person to think more about food and end up exaggerating.


Now that you’re aware of the implication of counting calories, I do hope the next time you contemplate losing weight for good, you no longer ask yourself how many calories I need to lose weight and consider instead consulting a functional nutrition coach to help you with the weight loss process.


I hope you find this post helpful and if you have any question about “How Many Calories Do I Need To Lose Weight” or want to leave your own personal opinion, leave me a comment below. To book a consultation with a qualified functional nutrition coach click here




Living life to the fullest means having a great state of wellbeing with a healthy diet as one of the most important pillars. I love functional nutrition and the benefit it brings to our overall health. As Qualified Functional Nutrition Coach, my passion is to inspire and help others to make healthier lifestyle choices. My goal is to teach about the healing power of food and how to use it to obtain optimal health and achieve permanent weight loss.

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20 Responses

  1. A functional nutrition coach sounds like the way to go if you want to lose weight. My girlfriend is adamant that if you just count calories you will lose weight. However, after reading your article I realize there is so much more to losing weight. And, this all makes sense to me. I have tried counting calories and, honestly, it doesn’t work. You have to watch the kinds of foods you eat as described in this article. Thanks for this article. It was very informative.

  2. Very informative post on calory functions and losing weight. One of my close friends is seriously suffering from heavyweight, trying to work out but couldn’t continue; So, I thought to offer him the novel idea and I came across this post. In the end, I really become impressed to uncover so many facts relating to weight loss! I especially like the crucial discussions of Functional Nutrition vs Functional Foods.

    1. Thank you SD for your comment!

      you can ask your friend to follow my YouTube channel where I teach how to lose weight eating everything with functional nutrition -I guarantee she will love my method!

  3. I’ve never counted calories and when people tell me that a certain meal adds a certain amount of calories, I have usually no idea if it’s a lot or not. I’m one of those skinny people who can eat all they want and not put on weight, although over the last year I put on a little weight due to an accident (a back injury which prevented me from doing exercise and my belly muscles went soft …) But that is reversible, I can begin to do exercise again. I eat a lot of vegetables, and in general I eat a healthy diet. What is the difference between micro and macronutrients?

    1. Thank you Christine for your comment! I am the same – I like to say “I do not have the fat gene” and I used to say I can eat anything because I do not get fat. However when I learned it was what I was eating that was making me sick I became more careful with what I ate as I do have many food intolerance which was causing inflammation on my body albeit no visible through body fat. That is why I fell in love with functional nutrition because it doesn’t just teach about healthy food but that it needs to be functional to each individual so they can benefit from it.

      Macronutrient refers to carb, protein & fat whereas micronutrient refers to vitamins and minerals.

  4. A very well done to this article. I have also checked calorie counting before and I advice against things like counting calories because for me I feel it is too much and besides there are many apps to help you with this anyways.
    I like the way you explained how a calorie is too.

    1. Thank you Thabo for your comment! Indeed there is many app that would help counting calorie but sustain a lifestyle counting calories is an impossible task and many fail at it.

  5. When I looked for how to lose weight, the instant thing that comes on the internet or any health app is how many calories should I lose. After reading your article I felt this is a myth and one should go for a healthy and balanced diet. Thanks for proving such useful information for calories.

    1. Thank you Kavitha for your comment! Yeah, calorie counting still a major part of conventional nutrition but more and more studies now prove it does not work as there are many other factors that affect weight gain/loss.

  6. Very informative article on how many calories i need to lose weight, the body can be tricky, and only us can know our body. This explains on why you are not shedding calories as fast as you want. We are not quitters and we go all the way when we want to to do something and we are going to follow what you say, it seems to all make sense to us. Interesting with the brain telling your metabolisme how to work and lose weight or burn calories. we are going to read your next article most effective way to lose weight.


    1. Thank you Mathew&Deloris for your comment! that is the spirit -never give up at the end you will find what works for you according to your genes and metabolism. However, I’m glad to hear that my post was helpful.

  7. Hi Kedia, Great read. You have explained this information well. I’ve been researching health and weight loss on my blog for close to 2 years now so it is always good to read articles like this for me. My idea so far is there are many factors to consider with how our body stores fat. White fat, brown fat (adipose tissue), thermogenesis, body type (ectomorph, mesomorph and I forget the other one). Gut bacteria is a good one you mention and then I think the other big thing is hormones – leptin, ghrelin, insulin, cortisol, adiponectin, estrogen and thyroid hormones. Most importantly I think it is good to determine why someone has put on so much weight. Getting the right kind of sleep, leptin resistance, poor gut health etc. I think this is why some supplements work for people and some don’t. Nutrition I think is definitely a big factor.

    Thanks for sharing;

    Best regards


    1. Thank you Alex for your comment!

      Indeed you’re right – however the main factors are gut health and hormones which are also greatly impacted by our diet. Practising functional nutrition helps to regulate these factors and consequently the weight loss happens naturally.

  8. Kedia,

    There are so many diet myths in the world right now, that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. I usually ignore all of them to be honest, but only because I have a BA in Nutrition Science and it’s all a load of crap. The thing that most forget about food, is that it’s really about getting back to the basics. Meaning, more vegetables than anything, and healthy carbohydrates. Although, nowadays, most people think carbs are bad and therefore avoid them, not knowing that carbs are what fuel the brain. Without glucose, our brain can’t function correctly. Hence why most people that go on a low-carb style diet complain of brain fog.

    You’re on the right track with not counting calories, so that’s good. A calorie is a calorie no matter the source. Fueling the body with the right breakdown of foods is what’s really important. It all breaks down into glucose, amino acids and so on.

    Thanks for sharing this!


    1. Thank you Katrina for your comment!

      I agree with you 100%. There are so many diet myths in the world and those who looking for a quick fix always fell pray of these fad diets. indeed the solution is simple – getting back to the basic – consuming real food – food that God made for our consumption – not what man makes in the lab/factory

  9. Hi Kedia, this was interesting info on a very old topic. You have a fresh perspective on it!
    The fact that the value of food is more important than it’s calorie count, because our bodies process it differently, makes sense.
    I was thinking where does the concept of the different blood groups and compatible foods fit in, does it have any truth to it?
    Thank you for giving us food for thought when choosing the correct foods while dieting.

    1. Thank you Estelle for your comment!

      Due to gene and metabolism, there are certain food our body won’t digest properly- and the type of food varies from individual to individual. Eating food that our body does not digest properly causes inflammation which for some people means excess of weight gain, it also slows down the metabolism which makes the process of weight loss an impossible task -hence why many people say I’ve tried so many thing to lose weight but I cant lose weight – it could be because they still consuming food that their organism cannot digest.

      Usually, I advise my client to do an intolerance test as this will tell them which food according to their gene are not good for them to consume regularly.

  10. Hi. Thanks for your post. Calorie counting can be tedious. I don’t do it. But I am aware that no matter what food plan you’re on, calories in versus calories out are crucial to losing weight. So even on a low-carb plan, if I overconsume protein, I will gain weight. If I over consume protein, fruit, vegetables and fat all together, I will gain weight. So calorie counting has it’s benefits. I used to weigh and measure my food with a food scale, measuring cups and tablespoons. That helps. Thanks for your post.

    1. Thank you Shalisha Alston for your comment!

      There is indeed a way to lose weight without relying on calorie counting. In my Weight loss courses, I teach people 4 fundamental pillars: choice; preparation; consumption; and functionality. Once you learn and practice this, you will never have to worry about calorie counting again-remember no all calories are the same and do the same to your body.

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