The Playbook For The Modern Man

Nutrition Coach Reveals The Worst Calorie Counting Mistake People Make

Because hunter-gatherers didn’t have Apple watches…

You’ve been counting calories forever and that’s totally understandable. But also — you’re probably doing it wrong, and one of the world’s most prolific nutrition coaches wants you to know it.

Max Lugavere is one of New York’s most level-headed exports, posting sensible information in a world of misinformation and detox tea.

Posting to his 327,000 Instagram followers, Lugavere recently weighed into the calorie counting debate, asking the same question The Economist recently posed: “given that the great majority of diets fail, could the calorie be one of the biggest delusions in dietary history?”


Taking the time to expose the problem with self-styled influencers’ rigid monitoring of kilojoules along the way, this is Max’s answer.


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While he admitted calorie counting “can be useful for some [people]… to assess the energy content of calorie dense modern processed foods and to see how they fit within [their] energy balance,” and guide you “past a weight gain or loss plateau,” Max then emphasised his initial premise — if you’ve been counting calories with the goal of keeping healthy, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

“In general I think (and the research supports)… [calorie counting is] less necessary when sticking to minimally processed foods that fill you up without providing excessive energy from combined sugar and fat.”

“Calorie counting,” he then added, “is a new phenomena enabled by technology. But the calorie counts for foods are subject to a wide margin of error. Not to mention the ‘calories out’ side of the energy balance equation is hard to measure and subject to flux based on hormones, musculature, activity levels, and more.”

The takeaway?

“If calorie counting works for you [then] by all means continue to do it! There’s no doubt that it can work. Just note that many of us get by (and achieve healthy bodies and the weight we desire) without it.”

Piqued? Here are some of Max’s top tips to make achieving an energy balance (or deficit) more effortless.

  1. Get more and better sleep
  2. Lift weights
  3. Stick to unprocessed veggies, whole fruits, and meat/fish/eggs
  4. Use nuts and seeds as toppings as opposed to snacks
  5. Avoid ADDED sugar and fats
  6. Avoid packaged, processed foods
  7. Avoid drinks with calories

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  • Moses Shuldiner

    Misleading headline. It seems to offer a better way to count calories, but actually is saying it is little value in calorie counting. Hunter gatherers had a child mortality rate of about 25%. Not my idea of a role model for health. Author could simply have recommended the DASH – dietary approach to stop hypertension- diet. It does not count calories, is more comprehensive than his recommendations and is backed by a vast amount of research.

  • Moose and Squirrel

    I’m sure the dangerous living conditions, lack of food, doctors and medications like antibiotics had nothing to do with that 25% mortality rate.

    The author is 100% correct. Your body handles different types of calories and responds differently when you reduce your caloric intake. The body is not a furnace, where you can calculate heat output by fuel amount over time.

    And the dietary advice he gave is what I’ve been following for 10 years. I lost 95lbs, feel great, sleep well and have pristine blood tests.

  • Moses Shuldiner

    Actually the body is a furnace that oxidizes food to produce energy for activities. The definition of a calorie (really a kilocalorie) is the amount of thermal energy required to raise one liter of water on degree centigrade.Mr. Lugavere is a science journalist, not a scientist.
    He markets unscientific products such as supplements which have proven to no value for the vast majority of people people and actually cause some harm to others.

    Also his mention of mostly animal sources of protein runs counter to most modern nutritional advise.

    He also neglects to mention stress reducing activities such as meditation, Tai Chi Chuan, Yoga, etc.

  • Moose and Squirrel

    Thanks for the boatload of misinformation.

    And modern nutritional advice led to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, so thats definitely a winner! /s

    Let me give you actual scientific and easily identified data.

    You eat fat or protein, your body slowly breaks that down and utilizes it. You eat carbohydrates, your body quickly puts them in the bloodstream as sugar, releasing insulin to instruct the body to store the excess blood sugar as fat. If you lower your caloric content, your body’s metabolism will slow.

    Link to a furnace that excretes insulin and alters its heat consumption more than the fuel reduction would mathematically produce, please?


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