Which Type of Calories Don’t Count?

None that I’m aware of!

It’s funny, though, to consider how many of us convince ourselves that somehow, certain calories are somehow not going to be recognized by the body as such.

Liquid calories come to mind first off.  Having a black americano over ice is vastly different from a venti-mocha-frappe type drink, the latter of which can have hundreds of empty calories.

Another type of calories that people tend to feel ‘don’t count’ are those which are consumed when they’re ‘just having one bite of something’, such as one bite of their kids’ birthday cake (which, come on, now, is not really just one bite) or sampling dishes being served at one well known mega-store, which does not typically make items like raw kale salad or steamed broccoli part of their normal offering!

Yet a third occasion where I see clients assuming calories don’t count are the sometimes endless amounts of salted, roasted nuts that tend to be eaten when people new to Paleo, that haven’t made preparing fresh food a priority and that mistakenly presume that eating copious amounts of nuts ‘since they’re Paleo’ is a good snack option.

Bottom line:  if you’re putting it in your mouth and it is some kind of food, or former food (as in, so highly processed that it’s no longer nutritious, but still has calories), it counts.

If it didn’t count, consider this:  why would you put something in your mouth, chew it and swallow it, if it did NOT serve some sort of nourishing purpose?   Unless you’re a small child, for whom the  behavior of putting things in one’s mouth to figure out what it is, is an developmentally acceptable behavior, it makes no sense.

So, does that mean we do have to ‘count calories’ if we’re trying to be Paleo?

Not necessarily.  Yes, of course calories count and I’d be telling tall tales if I suggested one could eat a jar of coconut oil, eight avocados and a side of beef in one sitting without adverse consequences.  

However, if you follow Paleo correctly, as in:

  • You balance out your macro nutrients in the proper Paleo fashion  (start with lots of veggies at every meal, then add some protein, then some fat and maybe some fruit)
  • You eat regular, small meals throughout the day, regarding snacks and meals as one in the same
  • You don’t go too long without eating, causing blood sugar dips and insulin reactions
  • You sleep and move properly

Then, with a fueled body and clear mind, you’ll not be all over the place from a blood sugar perspective, nor will you make poor judgements on what to eat as you will not be a ravenous, sugar craving lunatic.   That may sound like an extreme statement, but I’ve witnessed first hand how off the charts some people can get when they approach Paleo, or any ‘diet’ for that matter, incorrectly.

So, keep it balanced, completely Paleo and see if you don’t end up in a place where those ‘samples’ of brownie bites at the grocery store don’t even look attractive to you any longer.