Is calorie counting the best way to lose weight?

Some people tout losing weight by counting calories as the best way to do it. Nutritionists and fitness professionals are divided, however, on whether this is true. “Overzealous counting by consumers can lead to inaccurate …

Some people tout losing weight by counting calories as the best way to do it. Nutritionists and fitness professionals are divided, however, on whether this is true.

“Overzealous counting by consumers can lead to inaccurate data as calories are over-represented,” says Karen Ansel, dietitian and dietetics professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She leads an Obesity and Metabolism Research Group that has evaluated the merits of calorie counting, feeding metabolic disorders and the benefits of exercise.

Ms. Ansel agrees with another expert who cautions that it’s not wise to put all your money on weight loss being the same for everyone. The practice of exercising may help the majority of people lose weight, while men may have a harder time with this, Ansel says.

Unlike the calorie count, exercise experts say that what people do while working out is often more important than the calorie count. And calorie counting can lead to inaccurate information, cautions Dr. Arlene Blum, a New York City-based sports nutritionist.

“Counters often use incorrect meal recommendations that attempt to counteract caloric intake data on a daily basis,” Blum says.

“So, regardless of the popular perception, calorie counting is no panacea, and rarely works,” Blum says.

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