The Downside to Counting Calories

For the average dieter, counting calories is just a part of life. It's the best way to ensure that we're not going overboard with the food we eat, and it helps us to get the right amount of food every meal. But could counting calories be bad for you? According to research conducted at the University of California at San Diego, it very well could be!

Why Counting Calories Works Against You

The researchers at UCSD applied cognitive function tests (memory, recall, focus, etc.) to a group of participants, all of whom were on a diet. Some of the dieters preferred to count calories, while others dieted without counting calories. During the tests, one of two items was placed on the table: a full jug of water or an empty box of donuts. When the empty donut box was placed on the table, the cognitive function of the calorie-counters decreased. They had a harder time focusing on their tests, and thus their performance slipped. The food cues triggered stressful thoughts, overloading the brain and making it harder to focus. If you work anywhere outside your home, food cues are EVERYWHERE! You can't walk three blocks without seeing a half-dozen advertisements or signs for food, drinks, and sweets. So imagine how overloaded your poor brain is going to be. Men's Health offered a simple solution: measure with your hands. Every meal should contain:
  • 1 handful of protein
  • 1 handful of whole grains
  • 2 handfuls of veggies/fruit
Follow this, and you never need to count calories again!  

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