I found this great article over at Precision Nutrition about the issues with calorie counting.
I present to you the infographic that they shared with the article:
In particular I wanted to call out the topic of adaptive thermogenesis. I think this process is one of the things that stops a lot of people from hitting their fitness goals. The belief that eating too much is the problem means people feel that they’re doing good by eating less. I get the irony of this only one week after writing about fasting. Let's acknowledge that and move right along.
In my experience, generally what happens is people eat less in each meal, but overall eat about the same. Maybe they’ll have small breakfast, lunch, and dinner; but because they’re hungry will end up having a few more snacks. It's because feeling hungry is stressful, and a lot of people are rightfully scared of it. Depending on whats going on in your body, feeling hungry can be anything from a minor unpleasant 'empty gut' feeling, to a fuzzy cranky brain, to full blown exhaustion and fatigue. Personally I'm less scared of feeling hungry, but only because I have experimented with intermittent fasting and developed the ability to go hungry for relatively long periods of time (24 hours) without too much trouble. But it's something I prepare for, and I've built up to over time. It's not something I started doing suddenly as a New Years Resolution. When you're used to eating something small every 3 hours, trying to suddenly reduce the amount of food you eat is bound to not only freak you out, but also be physically challenging for your body. And to top it off, even if you have the mental fortitude to push yourself through that stress, the process of adaptive thermogenesis may foil your plans anyway!