We are complicated goddamn creatures. That’s my thought on most diets, actually: “one size will NEVER fit all”.
Calorie counting sounds simple and reliable in theory. Burn more than you eat, your body will have to start burning fat. Instead, if you go too far you put your body into starvation mode. There are also a lot of people it doesn’t work for. Or that it isn’t sustainable for. When I tried counting calories for awhile, I noticed that I naturally tend to eat low calorie. I wasn’t losing weight, I was actually gaining weight. My partner kept a borderline-starvation diet without losing much weight. I’ve heard from a LOT of overweight people that they’ve been on incredibly unhealthy, starve yourself, work yourself to death diets- and didn’t lose an ounce.
(meanwhile, if someone of a healthy weight tried doing this, they’d be diagnosed with an eating disorder and cured- but it’s okay for fat people to destroy their health in the name of becoming socially acceptable)
So. Clearly it’s a lot more complicated than calories.
This can set up an incredibly unhealthy relationship with food. “I won’t eat breakfast, so I can eat dessert” “I did half an hour of exercise so I earned this cookie” “I only had salad for dinner so I can have a slice of cake” A lot of people who count calories end up in the trend of treating unhealthy junk food as a reward for certain behavior- while the healthy behavior is what has to be put up with to get the reward of junk food. This is not creating a sustainable, healthy relationship with food or exercise.
Another issue I have with focusing on calories is those who act as though it’s all that matter and ignore other nutrition, eating calorie-heavy, low-nutrient foods and assuming they’ll be okay because they’re getting enough calories.
I think part of it is that calorie counting is one of the only weight loss specific diets I’ve really looked into. Every diet claims to be able to help people lose weight, because that’s part of promoting a diet nowadays, but most of the ones I look into are more about overall health-boosting. Although my partner’s interested in straight weight loss, I’ve got a host of physical ailments that I care about a heck of a lot more than what the scale says.
I do agree that calories shouldn’t be completely ignored- but they’re only part of the puzzle.