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Episode 6: Calorie Counting


Calorie Counting

A Google search will tell you that you can burn a slice of pizza with too many calories with a 90-minute walk. But is this true? Does this concept of ‘calorie in, calorie out’ hold true? In this episode, we will discuss how important calorie counting is in weight management.

I discuss this with Dr. Raman Ashta in today’s episode. She is a board-certified physician in Family Medicine and a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. She is currently practicing in Central Florida and is passionate about helping patients with chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity through lifestyle changes.

Key Learnings:

Tune in to my conversation with Dr. Raman Ashta and learn about:

  • Where the concept of ‘calorie in, calorie out’ came from
  • The equivalent measurements of macronutrients and calories
  • How to calculate calories in the food you eat
  • Misconceptions about calories
  • The complexity of calorie counting and why it doesn’t work
  • What happens to your body when you start depending on ‘calorie in, calorie out’?
  • The importance of where the calories come from regardless of the amount
  • The difference in calorie amount written on the nutrition label and the amount our body absorbs
  • What to focus on instead of burning the calories you consumed
  • The right way to count calories

Reasons Why Calorie Counting Doesn’t Always Work according to Dr. Raman Ashta:

  1. Metabolic adaptation
  • As we eat fewer calories, our basal metabolic rate (the calories the body burns) reduces to match our intake. As the metabolic rate reduces, the weight loss is stalled
  • We have different hormonal responses, different biological pathways for the different food groups.
  • It matters where those calories are coming from.
  1. Calorie model
  • The number of calories our body absorbs from a certain food is not what is written on the label.
  • Different people, depending on their microbiome, absorb more or less energy from the same food.
  • The way the food is cooked alters the available calories from it.

Dr. Raman Ashta’s Advice on how to Lose Weight and Maintain Weight Loss:

  1. Do not look at the calories but look at the quality of food.
  2. Eat in sync with your circadian rhythm.
  3. Listen to your body signals whether you’re hungry, or full or just craving. Then, eat according to that.
  4. Maintain a food diary, not necessarily a calorie count diary. Just put on paper what you eat for the whole day.
  5. Use apps like Lose Weight and MyFitnessPal, so you can see how much food you’re eating on a daily basis.
  6. Avoid eating fast food.

The Benefits of Calorie Counting:

  1. It is an important benchmark that a lot of weight loss programs use to guide our nutritional changes.
  2. It is important at the beginning of someone’s weight loss journey or journey to make healthy changes. It gives a measure of where we are and what we need to change.
  3. It is a great tool for us to know what works for us or what works for our body, over time.


Dr. Avishkar Sabharwal:

“Obesity is more of an endocrine problem rather than a physics equation that you just solve sitting on a computer, or you know, just solve on a machine.”

“The best and simplest advice that anyone could give us is, eat what your grandmother or your great grandmother would eat.”


Dr. Raman Ashta:

“One of the problems with the calories model is that we paint everything with the same brush.”

“Calories count, but don’t count calories.”

“If we can’t measure, we can’t improve.”

“In the end, we cannot completely ignore the importance of calories.”

“Calories matter in the weight loss, but not only how many or how much, but also what the sources of those calories are and what are the timings that we are eating those calories.”

Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode! Don’t forget to subscribe, leave a rating, and review:


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