Guest Post by Nesse

As my raison d’etre is to bring you bullsh*t-free info on life, liberty and the pursuit of cellulite-free thighs (amongst other laudable endeavours), I thought it might be useful to chat quickly about calories. Cuz there’s a f*cking truckload of info circulating the interweb about them, and most of it is crap.

Need help to cut through the crap? Join Hillary’s ‘No Bullsh*t Wellness’ event on 22nd Feb for Barre, snacks & health hacks. Check it out.

So let’s start at the start, shall we?

What the eff is a calorie anyway?

A calorie is defined as : the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 °C, equal to one thousand small calories and often used to measure the energy value of foods.

In other words, they’re little energy units. And the number you see on your food labels tell you how much energy any given serving of food/drink will give you. And in the simplest terms, if you consume more energy than you burn off, you will store the excess as fat. Or – conversely – if you want to burn fat, you need to force your body to use its “reserve energy” (or fat store) by consuming less calories than you burn off. Simples.

These are the facts, folks, and they are indisputable. So what’s with the controversy, and why are some health and wellness folks feeding us a whole load of bullshit about calories NOT actually counting?? Well, a few reasons.

1. It’s not *actually* that simple. A calorie most certainly is not JUST a calorie. Surely the calories in an avocado are NOT the same, nutritionally speaking, as those in a bag of crisps, so viewing foods on the basis of that little number alone is a bit silly. You could, for example, consume your daily caloric in-take via chocolate bars and coca-cola. And if you stuck to your daily calorie limit (so, basically starve yourself), you would, in theory, still lose weight. Now apart from this being a f*cking stupid thing to do, anyone screwed up enough to try it will most likely screw up several other parts of their body in the process, which may in-turn disrupt digestive processes and lead to weight gain anyway. So I suppose, if you’re going to be extreme (or a bit silly), the caloric flow equation is a bit too simple.  But no one reading this is a f*ckwit, so let’s just presume that you know better than to eat your daily caloric allowance in one sitting, courtesy of Cadbury’s or PepsiCo. And of course, things like food sensitivities can also mess with your digestive process and lead to weight-gain, even when eating healthily and sticking to a daily calorie goal, but those cases are not the norm and should be handled on an individual basis by someone who knows what they’re doing.


2. They’re confusing goals. Here’s the thing: Not everyone wants to look like a fitness model or post never-ending mostly-naked selfies on Instagram (ugh) or start a wellness revolution. Some people just want to drop a few pounds/fit into an old dress/whatever. For medical reasons, for mental health reasons, or just because they’re vain AF and fancy squeezing into some skinny jeans. (I totally get this.) I always tell my clients: if you just want to lose weight (get smaller), count your calories. If you want to look hotter naked, count your calories and workout. If you want to get HEALTHY so you’ll be around longer/can do cool shit with your body (and, as a result, lose weight and look hotter naked) (note the weight-loss/hotness factor being SECONDARY in scenario 3), eat real food, be aware of your calories, move your body and forgive yourself. These three scenarios are NOT the same thing. And though I’d LOVE everyone to opt for scenario 3 (and indeed, I won’t work with folks who aren’t interested in going that route), the truth – stripping away all of the bullshit – is that caloric flow is a thing. It can be a stupid, dangerous thing if done incorrectly, but it IS a thing. And depending on your goals (because we’re all adults here), counting calories may well be the right thing for you, even if only for a short period, or to “kick start” your weight-loss, or whatever.

3. They forget the exercise. Or just don’t fancy the math involved. Often times, H&W folks are peddling (exclusively or as part of a package) an exercise programme. And when you exercise on a calorie controlled diet, you should flex your eating to accommodate for this. In other words, a calorie controlled diet should always work on NET intake*. So if your goal daily calorie intake goal is 1500 kcals, for example, and you exercise for an hour, burning 300 calories, you should actually consume closer to 1800 calories that day, so that your NET intake remains at 1500, but you’re providing your body with enough energy to fuel your workouts. You’ll still be in calorie deficit according to your weight-loss plan, but you won’t exhaust yourself or any other unhealthy shit. Furthermore, if you are working out and gaining muscle, your body’s resting metabolic rate will increase, so that caloric goal will need revising. However – once you reach that point, you probably don’t need to be counting calories anymore anyway, as you’ll have hopefully developed healthier eating habits and be more active, thereby losing weight without thinking so much about it.


Look, our relationship to food is a complicated thing; ESPECIALLY for those who are overweight/have struggled with their weight for a long time. Ultimately, we have forgotten as a species that food is designed to FUEL THE BODY, NOT TO FILL IT. It’s meant to deliver nutrients AND energy to our muscles and our cells, not to comfort us or make us feel “full”.

There are all sorts of theories on why we don’t always do this/think of food this way (there’s a great documentary available on the subject, called “Hungry for Change”), but if we could just collectively try to remember this, we would all struggle a lot less with the various weight-loss-related equations…

That said – anyone who tries to tell you that calories DON’T count is…as the saying goes…full of shit. It may not be that simple, and it may not be that easy (though it’s pretty simple and easy, once you get the hang of it), but it certainly IS true. Calories count. Full f*cking stop.

Need help to cut through the crap? Join Hillary’s ‘No Bullsh*t Wellness’ event on 22nd Feb for Barre, snacks & health hacks. Check it out.