Should I Count Calories Or Just Eat Healthy Legumes

Should I Count Calories Or Just Eat Healthy Legumes
Should I Count Calories Or Just Eat Healthy Legumes

Should I Count Calories Or Just Eat Healthy Legumes

Several years ago, one of my family members tried to lose weight by counting calories.  calorie counting

He totaled the calories in every meal, snack, and drink he consumed daily on his calorie counting app.

I watched him choose low-calorie foods over more tempting restaurant options. And it worked – he lost weight!

But he had no intention of counting calories forever. 

As soon as he reached his target weight, he celebrated his achievement. Then, he watched over the next few months as the weight crept back on. 

His story is far from unique. The vast majority of dieters who lose weight regain it within a year, victims of the yo-yo diet syndrome.

Researchers at Brown Medical School’s Miriam Hospital Department of Psychiatry found that only 20 percent of overweight individuals who lost 10 percent of their weight maintained the loss after a year.

5 Ways of Beating the Yo-Yo Diet Effect

calorie counting
Healthy low-cal, low-fat food.

To keep the weight off, the study’s participants embraced some positive habits, including:

  • Engaging in high levels of physical activity (about 1 hour a day) 
  • Continuing to eat a low-calorie, low-fat diet.
  • Eating breakfast regularly 
  • Self-monitoring their weight
  • Maintaining a consistent eating pattern seven days a week.

Of these five habits, the most critical was eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet and finding a consistent, seven-day-a-week eating pattern.

A Comparative Study: Calorie Counting vs Eating Healthy

Researchers from the University of Toronto recognized that calorie counting regimes don’t typically keep weight off in the long run, so they sought a different solution.

They remarked in their British Journal of Nutrition discussion:

“Thus, it is important to identify foods that can be easily incorporated into the diet and spontaneously lead to the attainment and maintenance of a healthy body weight and improved metabolic control.”

What foods did they identify?

Bean consumption has been associated with lower body weight, waist circumference, risk of overweight or obesity and systolic blood pressure in epidemiological studies.”

They designed an eight-week comparative study and chose beans as their top weight-loss food. The study placed a calorie-counting diet in head-to-head competition with legumes.

  • The calorie-counters removed 500 calories a day from their diet. 
  • The bean group added 5 cups of legumes a week without calorie counting. 

So, one group removed food, and the other added food. It was an actual “calorie counting vs eating healthy” matchup. 

Eating Healthy Legumes Makes a Difference

The results? 

calorie counting
Healthy bean salad.

Both diets led to the same:

  • Reduced energy (calorie) intake
  • Decreased waist circumference
  • Improved glycemic control 
  • Improved insulin sensitivity

However, only the legume diet resulted in “additional benefits beyond a reduction in energy intake.” They include improved high-density lipoprotein (HDL good cholesterol.)

If you remember from yesterday’s post, increased HDL is one of the five critical metabolic syndrome factors. 

Remarkable! Eating beans with no other changes to their diet was more effective than restricting calories. 

Beans won!

If I could only speak with all the dieters who’ve failed at restriction diets, calorie counting, I’d suggest looking into eating healthy legumes instead!

Legume Consumption and Temporary Bloating

Are you concerned about bloating or flatulence?

Both should be temporary. When you feed your gut healthier food, its harmful bacteria die off while its good bacteria feed and grow like crazy! This gut upheaval should subside once your new diet becomes a habit.

Among the Toronto study’s bean group:

  • Seven out of the 40 (15 percent) reported feeling bloated. 
  • One out of 40 (2.5 percent) reported feeling flatulent. 
  • Only one complained of an upset stomach. 

However, their symptoms occurred only once during the entire eight-week trial. The slight discomfort of starting a legume-rich diet is well worth the effort!

Calorie Counting vs Eating Healthy 

The next time I see my family member who used the calorie-counting app, I’ll talk to him about calorie counting vs eating healthy legumes.

However, among all the Metabolic X improvements consuming legumes brings, weight loss isn’t one he needs to pursue anymore. 


Because, after regaining all his calorie-counting weight loss – and struggling with many more diets – he took my advice and went 90-percent plant-based.

With my encouragement, he dropped more pounds than he did while counting calories. Today, he looks better than ever – with no end in sight! 

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