Calorie counting or otherwise artificially reducing your food intake is a waste of time and life


"You should be doing 1,400 calories a day, then you’ll lose weight!”
"You should be fasting for two days a week, then you’ll lose weight!”
"You should be hitting the gym every day, then you’ll lose weight!”
"You should be increasing your protein to 40%, then you’ll lose weight!”
"You should be just eating organic, then you’ll lose weight!”
"You should be just eating complex carbs, then you’ll lose weight!”

Bullshit. All of it. Faddy, unsustainable, yo-yo diet bullshit. You’ll lose weight and have a positive, enjoyable relationship with food only when you learn to eat when you’re hungry, and stop obsessing over what you eat.

I want to burst some bubbles around here, because I’m fed up with seeing so much bad advice passed around - advice that will never, ever free you from the mental chains you’re in right now.

Calorie control is a LIE
Fixing your calorie intake at an arbitrary level based on a one-size-fits-all approach is foolish, even at a glance:

  • We’re all different sizes
  • We all have different metabolisms
  • We all exert ourselves to a different degree
  • One day we might walk to work, one day we might go to the gym, one day we might be sick in bed

Your calorie needs are highly variable. Your body knows what you need and it’s trying to tell you. You’ve just stopped listening.

Calorie control will never cure you
It will only ever be a sticking plaster. It might (if you’re one of the few “lucky” ones) be a sticking plaster you wear until the day you die, miserable and cake deprived. You only get one life, and this is it. Do you really want to spend it worrying about how many “points” your pudding is worth? Think about it: is an alcoholic who can’t go into a bar really cured?

Exercise Does Not Make You Thin
It may make you healthy(er) - if you do enough - but it will not make you thin. You’ll just eat more snacks to make up for the calorie shortfall. Face it, 30m on a cross trainer burns off enough to eat a single Mars Bar, and not even a king size one. Oh and yeah, I know, muscle burns more energy than fat just sitting still - but unless you’re Arnie, the actual difference is two pretzels (no, it really is).

I trained for and ran two damned half marathons and never lost a kilo - and I am not alone, or even in the minority.

I’ve been to the gym every morning for ten years, doing cardio and resistance training, and only got fatter.

My wife is a goddamn yoga teacher, and I’m still decidedly un-pretzel-like.

How this happened to you (and me)

You were born with the ability to know how much food you need on any day, at any time. Your parents, and the wider culture, forced upon you 3 meals a day, forced you to eat more than you needed - “clean your plate there’s a good boy, there are kids starving in Africa, finish it and you can have some dessert!” You were taught that lunch happens at 1, dinner at 6 or 7, and not to snack when you’re hungry because it will “spoil your appetite.”

Let me translate that. You knew, as a child, what your body needed. You asked for food when you were hungry and stopped eating when you were full. Then your parents unknowingly bullied you into eating too much, then rewarded you with even more food - addictive, sugary food at that. Or maybe they unwittingly fetishised junk food by banning it from the home. Either way, you learned to ignore your body’s signals and indulge your addictions.

You eat too much food because you are habitualised into eating on a schedule, because you have forgotten what it’s like to listen to the signals from your body. You eat too much because you are afraid to find out what real hunger feels like.

You are a victim of the obesity epidemic and it truly, genuinely isn’t your fault. But worse, you’re also a victim of the diet industry. You need a revolutionary, self driven, sustainable change; not some smug, muscular prick telling you to pedal faster and eat less. If it was as simple as that, don’t you think EVERYONE WOULD BE THIN? You know Mars Bars make you fat, but you eat it anyway.

There is another way

A way where you enjoy food, where you really get the most from it. A way where you lose weight, yet don’t diet and don’t feel like you’re missing out. A way where you don’t need to pretend that you wrote down everything you ate today. A way where you can eat any damned food you like without feeling guilty or pressured or worried about tomorrow.

You do not need to be deprived, miserable or restricted. You don’t need drink smoothies that taste of green or shop in health food stores where everything is brown. You need to do the opposite of the mindless eating we have been taught; you need to relearn how to eat mindfully and consciously.

I’ve been in one support group, I want to be in another. Are there 4 other guys out there who will try mindful eating with me for one month, try to get at the true cause of our weight problems and sustainably change our relationship with food for good?

I look forward to your replies! :wink:


FWIW, I actually agree with a lot of what you say, sorry to disappoint :wink: . I don’t count calories as such, but I do have a bunch of rules, which arguably is the same thing. I totally agree that mindful eating/drinking is the only way, in the long run, but I wonder if one needs to go through the painful ‘diet’ phase in order to become more mindful.

I am a drinker. I can down a bottle of red wine in 20 mins after a ‘hard days work’, then start on the next. Trouble is, every day becomes ‘a hard day’ and so drinking heavily every day becomes habitual. I don’t want to be teetotal, I want to be able to drink/eat mindfully, but actually experiencing lengthy dry periods or going hungry is part of that learning process, perhaps.

I am two months in and have dramatically cut down drinking, drink loads more water and have replaced chocolate, biscuits etc with fruit. It has taught me about what I need/don’t need, and most of it I don’t.

Like I said, I agree with you about being mindful, my questions/concern is more about how to become more mindful and the process. To say that one needs to eat mindfully is one thing. Now explain how. I feel like it’s going to take me a while to achieve this state, just as breaking my drinking habit will take a while. But I tell you; doing this ‘diet’ for want of a better word is at least pushing me closer to understanding how to listen to my body.



I also agree with a lot of what you posted regarding the set out from an early age routine of 3 meals a day etc BUT IMHO a low carb diet suits me as it diminishes appetite and therefore I miss meals and only usually eat when it suits.
Although I still try to have three meals to stop the habitual snacking.

I DO agree with what @miniwomble said as I too have a drinking hobby to cut back on as and when I’m ready to and mindfull eating is not going to stop me popping corks like its Christmas…every day :smirk:

I wont be trying “mindfull eating” and am curious as to why your post seems (to me) to be written to provoke a reaction?

Simple Definition of provoke

: to cause the occurrence of (a feeling or action) : to make (something) happen
: to cause (a person or animal) to become angry, violent, etc.

Edit…just been through your previous posts…you do write really tense and stimulating posts …and replies…maybe I am missing the obvious “thing” to stop me drinking two bottles of wine a night? I see you have the best outcome for all on here at heart.

Slightly interested…but only if we can include Petit Verdot’s ?


I have no problem with @Tetsugaku being provocative. The best part of ManVFat is the groups of guys getting together to encourage and swap stories etc. Everyone is doing something different. Do I agree with them all? No, but the group format of discussion forces you to think, consider other things/ways etc. A lot of @Tetsugaku posts are deliberately provocative which Is cool by me. He forces me to question and think for myself about this diet stuff just as my team colleagues do. All power to his elbow. Doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says. Open honest debate is rarely a bad thing.


I agree with @Hammy_Hamster, it does seem to want to provoke.

Where I agree fully with you is everybody is different, I love food which is my problem. If I’m too lose weight I have to make sacrifices, once I achieve my goal weight I can increase the things I enjoy the most.

Calorie counting is mindful eating, full awareness of what you put into your body will make you change your habits for life. YoYo dieting is when you only make changes for the short term but the only way to lose weight is to consume less calories than your body uses. Mindful eating/fasting/5/2 all have the same goal to make sure the calorie equation is that way.


Spot on @Andy_Gallon


I’m a big fan of mindful eating. What sort of group are you proposing and how would it be run?

Fwiw I’ve never seen anyone in mvf say that you need to eat 1400 calories a day, but I get that’s not the point you’re making. You’re saying there’s no one way. Except your way :wink:


But how do you do what you’re proposing without using one of the other methods as a gateway to get there?


The tone of the post reminds me of the saying:
“Nobody worse than a reformed drunk…”

As you mentioned in the long post above everyone is different, hence some methods work for some people and others work for others. Calorie counting works because it is simple and people can hold themselves accountable.

I’ll agree that most people get obese due to either lack of education or mental weakness. However, that does not mean there is only one cure.

As far as the working out and gym is concerned if you went to the gym every day and got fatter then I’d submit that you just showed up and did not really work out. I have seen that in gyms in the past, people go get on a bike, cruise for 45 minutes while hardly breaking a sweat then head out.

Now, while I got fat, I stopped short of being obese and food has never been a stress reliever for me. So, I can’t relate to some of the things people here are going through. But, after a while due to calorie counting people do pick up good eating habits, and it becomes natural to eat healthy (mindful eating? :wink: ).


I was going to reply with quotes but it seems to be taking me forever so I’m not going to keep trying - so instead.

Am I being provocative? Yes, deliberately, because the received wisdom passed around both here and elsewhere needs blowing up with violence and comedy.

@Miniwomble - How? Do support group with me for a month and we’ll try to do it together - that’s a how? As for drinking, good for you on drinking less but the effect is reducing the health risks of boozing, not losing weight. Also, drinking more water has no effect on weight nor have their been any studies saying we don;t drink enough.

@Hammy_Hamster - why do you feel the need to reduce your appetite? Why do you think “Low Carb” meals do that? Do you not think it more likely that you’re just giving your body what it asked for , therefore it stopped asking? Why does it have to be a special diet as opposed to just doing what your body asked by really listening to it?

@Andy_Gallon - calorie counting I categorically NOT mindful eating, it is the very opposite in fact. Anyone who calorie counts, counts wrong for a start, they miss things, they cheat consciously or unconsciously. They also are counting up to a completely made up target that they might as well have pulled out of their ass. Mindful eating means listening to what your body actually needs on a day to day basis and responding consciously and thoughtfully to that every time.

@admin - I was just thinking of a support group, 1 of the 5 being me, and we’d try to help each other run things differently. I’ve been in one group, it helped, but mainly because it showed the insanity of 5 men telling each other what they had for breakfast when all of our circumstances were so staggeringly different.

@thesquarebit well I’m proposing we do a group together for anyone interested and give it a whirl. I just started, but realised the support group help I could get here would be really useful and could help me whilst I helped the group.

@Tank - calorie control only works if you think it’s ok to be controlled and constrained by rules, methods and spreadsheets until the day you die rather than eating freely, whatever you want, whenever you want, without feeling that you have been deprived or worried about going to a restaurant with friends or nervous about the pile of snacks in the middle of the meeting room table. It’s a band aid that can be kept on forever, but the problem is never solved. Mindful eating is never a habit, it is always conscious and deliberate.

So if anyone is interested in giving it a whirl, it’s going to be quite hard. You’ll likely look inside yourself in a way that you’ve seldom or never done before, you’ll develop a conscious awareness that’s with you most of the time that affects other parts of your life.

Can you consciously ask yourself “Am I Hungry” when you reach for some food, actually listen to the response and act accordingly? Remember that 9/10 the answer is “No, I’m lonely / bored / frustrated ’ just had a row ’ nervous ’ etc”.

I came to this through Mindfullness in general. I started meditating 9 months ago and it’s been life changing in every way since. I can concentrate for longer, my blood pressure is lower, I’m less quick to anger and when I do get angry I notice it and come right back down again, I’m consciously looking at my food, my relationships and the way that I talk to people. Even you guys right here.

It’s a god danmned super power and it’s helping me be honest about my relationship with food, something I have struggled with chronically for 15 years.


That will be difficult because i haven’t been following a calorie restrictive diet. I haven’t been going to the gym and exercising, I haven’t been eating organic nor altering my protein or carb intake. But I’m still losing an average of 2lb a week.

I eat all foods, nothing is forbidden, I eat the foods I like and as much of them as I want.

I’m mostly eating the foods that Mother Nature wanted me to eat. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m not. I try not to eat anything that has been made in a factory or contains processed sugar. I can’t afford to buy from a health food shop nor buy organic.
Even though I’m trying not to eat factory produced pre chewed foods, they are still not forbidden to me. I can go to a party and eat what ever I want, in as much quantity as I desire.
The only difference between now and what I ate six months ago, is that my desire to eat certain foods has wained. The desire to only eat as much as I want, to satisfy my hunger is now stronger. I try to stop eating, after my body tells me it is no longer hungry.
So which bubble do you wish to burst?


Sounds like you’ve found a way that works for you, identified your demons and concurred them which is the aim for every one of them.

I think your sweeping assumptions around calorie counting is inaccurate and unfounded.

I haven’t made up my calorie goal, I had by BMR measured so I know what my body uses, I then set a calorie goal that equates to losing 1.5lbs per week. I then worked on increasing my BMR through exercise as a combination. While you may be right that people cheat I am religious counting what I’m doing, as I truly want to make changes.

Last point from me, if I eat precisely what my body needs (and is telling me if I listen) then I will maintain my weight, which is not what I want to do. I accept though that part of my problem has always been eating for the sake of it, and mindful eating has actually formed part of my calorie counting diet, and it is and will work for me.


Nonsense. It’s both.

Maybe not but it makes me feel better and it’s a substitute for the Diet Coke and evening booze.

I am with you on mindfulness. In the long term, to avoid going back to old ways, we all need to understand how we got to the state we’re in, how to understand our bodies and respond in a less destructive way. Otherwise we become yo-yo dieters, or permanent dieters. I don’t want to do that any more than I want to be teetotal. But you can’t tell me that everyone is doing it wrong because they’re not meditating. You can’t tell the guys who have lost 30, 40, 50 pounds and more that they are not learning how to understand and listen to their bodies better. You can’t say that the football guys are wasting their time; they are doing exactly what you recommend. They are learning about their bodies and, perhaps more importantly, themselves.

I agree that to blindly follow a ‘diet’ (I hate that word btw), without understanding is a mistake and a one-way ticket to failure, but is precisely what this forum avoids if you use it right. I have a notebook in which I record my weight and food/drink intake (I don’t count calories myself, but am am totally cool with those who do), but I also record my thoughts and feelings, particularly about what I am doing and why and what is happening as a result. I am trying to connect my actions to results in a way that I understand my body and my mind as to why I’m a total ■■■■-up when it comes to food and booze.

I appreciate you poking a stick at some of the stuff on the forum. All theories should be tested to destruction to get to the truth, whatever that is, but I think your assessment that everyone is doing it wrong is wide of the mark. I’d happily do a team with you. My next team is lined up, but if you can get others together and @Jaxom will make the change, I’ll do it. But don’t expect me to be your wingman. I can think for myself too.


I am quite willing to set up a group for guys to experiment in.
MANvFAT has never extoled one way of losing weight. Nor told anyone what to do.

A lot of guys are committed to their MVFIA TEAMS for 30 days at the moment and it would be unfair to pull guys off those groups early.

However if guys are willing to Plan a group experiment on this thread and put their names forward to be a part of a group with @Tetsugaku and @miniwomble, I will have a TEAM all ready and waiting for you to start in 30 days time. by then all current teams will have completed their 30 day runs.
It would be interesting if @Tetsugaku was to outline his proposals, so that the seven man team, would know what they could expect and look forward to.


Interesting debate


I agree that mindful eating and indeed living is very desirable and I am sure it works…while you are being mindful, and that’s the problem staying mindful.
I do not agree that everybody else is doing it wrong, because people are different and need to look at different ways to achieve their goals. Nobody on here is saying you need to do this, that, or the other to lose weight, it’s all about the support not the mechanism an individual chooses.
Given your statement regarding attitudes to food being learnt during childhood (which I do not disagree with) I am interested to see how you propose to enable me to reprogramme myself (so to speak) given I was a child 40 odd years ago which makes my behaviour pretty ingrained. I would like to put myself forward for this group, in 30 days as @Jaxom suggests once my current group finishes. I am looking at this as an experiment and will enter it with an open mind and will draw my own conclusions.


The good thing about this sight is that no one ever preaches about the rights and wrongs of trying one way or another to loose weight. What works for some may not work for another but the overall aim is to be supportive and encourage positive behaviour. Whilst I get the sentiment I can’t help feel there’s a lot of preaching going which may be aimed at being provocative but personally I find it a big turn off. A positive post about mindfulness that doesn’t slag off everything else I would find more interesting.


Yes indeed. Very interesting. I love the intensity. I like so many of the things that you said. Some things you say I’m not so keen on but I’m not an expert so I’d be a hypocrite to say otherwise.

Here’s what I do know. I follow what works for me. When it stops working I do something different. This repeats for several months. Then I start again. Along the journey I learn more and more and it either works or it don’t. If it dosen’t work for me I don’t discount it or shit bag it. Because as you say, every one is so different in so many ways. I think you contradict yourself somewhat there. However, I’m very interested in your group. Keen to hear more.


I am a bit like @Jaxom really

I rarely exercise (bad back prevents gym work so all I do is swimming maybe once or wtice a week at most)

I have given up dairy and cut right down on bread/cakes to the extent I rarely want them if available. I have cut down on alcohol on the same basis but have the odd tipple now and then. I do not feel deprived of these I just don’t want them.

I am a bit dim therefore dont really understand too much about complex carbs and the like , I just eat what I choose to and for the first time in my life refuse to eat what I choose to also. As a result my calorie count is generally between 1200/1500 but I am not a slave to it , and yes I round up my intake , but no longer cheat as what is the point.

Hey presto I am down 25 lbs in just over 2 months and the lightest I have been in years so it works for me. I do not feel I have given anything up or feel any sense of loss, these are things I have chosen to do so all is good.

Others on here , and certainly in my various MVFIA groups may go about things in a different way , but in ways that work for them and surely that is the point here that everyone has to find the path that is right for them.


Anything works if it works for you. There are no ‘rules’. But certainly tracking (whether it be calories or just a diary) is a great first step towards taking control and being able to drill down to what is effective for the individual. As a biochemist (by training, at least) I completely understand that there is so very,very much more to it than calories in vs calories out. But if you don’t take control - whether through calorie counting, mindfulness or cutting out food group X, you won’t make any changes.

The key to this site isn’t preaching one thing over another, it’s provoking & encouraging people to think, track, experiment & share. And ‘5 blokes telling each other what they had for breakfast’ might not be the magic bullet but by God/FSM it is having an effect on many.

The only, ONLY rule is that old miscredited quote…the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results.