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Thread: Calorie Counting Revisited : Distillation and Update

  1. #1
    Paleobird's Avatar
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    Calorie Counting Revisited : Distillation and Update

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    I did a post called Reality Check : Counting Calories.

    When I asked why I wasn't seeing weight loss, I was told, "Eat more fat!" and now I feel like I wasted five months trying to believe. I ate bacon and waited for the magic but it never happened.

    Recently there have been similar posts and my post was referenced. It got so huge it might be difficult to sift out the essentials. This is the distilled version.

    PB is a healthy WOE but it will not lead to weight/fat loss in my case unless I do some calorie restriction.

    I'm 49 w/30lbs to lose. No major health problems. Always physically fit. No cravings or binges. Very compliant with PB eating. I sleep well, get plenty of vitamin D, lots of play, minimal stress, tons of veggies, no processed junk, lots of good proteins and fats. Dairy free, legume free, minimal nuts and berries. Almost always good about following the PBF workout routine. I’m doing everything “right”, right?

    Body composition shift has got me into a smaller size jeans. But I am not buying “muscle is more compact than fat so ditch your scale”. At the levels I’m working out, I'm not packing on pounds of muscle. I am toning up but the reason I’m not seeing weight loss is not muscle mass gain but it would be reassuring to believe and keep eating bacon.

    I read Taubes GCBC. But there are still calories. Too many of them, even the good kind, and weight loss is not happening.

    Several pages assuring people I don’t have an eating disorder because I mentioned IFing. The IFs didn’t cause the stall, they were my attempt to break though it. Concern was appreciated, but no.

    Several comments about getting other stuff right before calorie restriction. Very valid but I think I am. Other than minimal/infrequent indulgences I such as a glass of red wine a handful of macadamia nuts or a square of dark chocolate, my whole life is Whole 30. I don’t cheat. I don’t 80/20, more like 98/2.

    Several said the reason for my stall was not enough fat. The paleo argument that primitive game was leaner and Primals are kidding ourselves about the need for so much fat does have some merit. Fat is not the demon we have been led to believe, but we shouldn't go “hog wild” with it either.

    Batty’s very perceptive comments on fat:

    "so, we have all programmed our bodies to switch from carbs to fat as fuel by bombarding ourselves with fat. now, our bodies are running happily with fat as fuel, and we are now still bombarding ourselves with its preferred fuel source. with the bombardment of dietary fat, you're not giving your body the ability to tap into its reserves.

    flip side of the coin: from what i got out of taubes' book, he asserts that it is about finding the foods that make your body want to expend more energy than it consumes - WANTING to, not forcing it to. this does not necessarily have to be achieved via caloric restriction. it could very well be the case that bombarding your body with fat causes your body to want to release more energy than it is given. if it were that easy, this would be a forum full of lean individuals, and we wouldn't be having this discussion in the first place."

    This is the article that made the most sense about fat:
    The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D. » Low-carb and calories

    One excerpt says it all:
    "On a low-carb diet your body burns fat for energy. But it doesn’t care where this fat comes from; it can come from the diet or it can come from the fat cells or it can come from both. If you are consuming enough fat to meet all your body’s requirements, your body won’t go after the fat in the fat cells no matter how severely you restrict your carbs. You will burn dietary fat only and no body fat. And you won’t lose weight. It’s that simple.

    It has been shown countless times that when people go on low-carb diets they spontaneously reduce their caloric intake. Most foods available on low-carbohydrate diets are satiating and those following these diets get full quickly. They just don’t eat that many calories. In most studies of low-carb diets people drop their caloric intake down to the 1500-1700 kcal range and are quite satisfied. At that level of caloric intake, they need a fair amount of their own body fat to make up the difference between their dietary intake and the 2400-2600 kcal (or more) that they burn every day. As they consume this body fat, they lose weight."

    When Taubes says calorie restriction is futile, he is talking about people with carbs running their metabolisms. Those of us long since over carbs are running on fat. But do you want to burn the fat on your fork or the fat on your tush?

    When carb junkies go PB, they naturally reduce calorie intake because most favorites are off the menu. My favorites have always been greasy salty crunchy things. To me PB is like a kid in a candy store.

    There are some people who should NOT be restricting calories.

    1)People who have or have had any kind of eating disorder or OCD tendencies. You need to have a healthy relationship with food and yourself first.
    2)People who don't have all the other parts of the PB plan "dialed in" to their life. Work the fundamentals first. Primalize your pantry, get a good PBF exercise program going, really live by the ten rules Mark lays out.
    3)People who have other health conditions keeping them from losing weight. Get those things healed.
    4)People who have nutritional deficiencies. These need to get sorted out.
    5)People suffering from metabolic disorders. Let your body heal.

    So those people for whom this really can work:

    1)You are living by all 10 of the PB laws.
    2)No cheating, bingeing, or cravings you can't walk away from. This shows that you are keto adapted.
    3)You are in pretty good health. Major health concerns resolved or well on their way there.
    4)You really do have some weight/fat to lose.
    5)You are already eating what Taubes would call good calories, sugar/carbs cleaned out of your system.
    6)You can handle tracking your calorie intake without it taking over your life or killing the joy of eating.

    To distill it down to “a plan” for how to do calorie restriction:

    1)Make sure caloric restriction is right for you (see above lists)

    2)Figure out your BMR. This is the amount of calories you need to just maintain at any given weight. Google “BMR calculator”. Bunches of them. A good one will have an activity multiplier so that you can factor in how active you are into your caloric needs.

    3) figure out how fast you want to lose weight. Good rule of thumb is a 500 calorie /day deficit means about 1 lb of fat /wk shed. This is sustainable. So BMR minus your deficit number gives you your target calories.

    4)Figure your protein needs. Some people base this on Lean Body Mass which is current weight minus your body fat content. This can be difficult and unreliable to measure. Another way to calculate this is based on ideal weight. This is your “hot stuff in swim wear (HSIS)” weight. You can determine this by a BMI calculator. There are lots of those as well. Your HSIS weight in pounds is the number of grams of protein you need.

    5)Target calories-protein needs gives you what you have left to “play with” between carbs and fats. Getting your protein has to come first. If you eat less carbs you get to have more fat. But whatever you do, don’t skimp on the protein. We get caught up in all the yummy fats and then are satiated long before we get enough protein while going overboard on calories in the process.

    1 gram fat=9 calories 1 gram carb=4 calories 1 gram protein=4 calories

    6) The “trick” is getting enough protein without going “over-budget” on calories.

    This means three things:
    a)Leaner choices in protein. Eggs, bison, venison, rabbit, lean game birds.
    b)Leaner cuts of meat. Flank steak not brisket. Beef heart jerky is great. Put bacon on hold for a while.
    c)Not adding fat onto food like gobs of mayo, cooking oil, and butter. Just appreciate the food.

    Nobody is advocating going all fat phobic Pritikin style. There is still plenty of fat in the protein.

    7)Track your daily numbers on any one of the many programs out there. I prefer Sparkpeople.

    I have been averaging about 1300-1400 calories a day and I don’t feel in the least bit hungry. My workouts have been better than ever and I credit that to the increased protein.

    And I’ve dropped 12 lbs plus I’ve lost an inch off my waist and two inches off my rear. Yeah, it works.

    If people would go back and read the PB, there would be a lot less objection to the idea of calorie counting. It's all in there. Protein portions, calorie targets.

    Before I made these changes, I wasn't tracking (since everyone kept telling me to ditch the scale and eat my bacon) but reverse engineering it I was eating about 2400 cal/day with maybe a 30/15/55 ratio of protein/carb/fat. Now its 1400 with ratios of 40/15/45. So carbs have stayed the same, I just moved some from the fat column to the protein and cut the overall quantity.

    For people who have a background of eating disorders the whole idea of calorie counting is a bad flashback, it attaches to very emotional issues. For me it's just about using a tool.
    Some people are not ready physically to deal with calorie tracking. People who are very overweight and whose diets are very SAD do lose weight just by switching to PB on the "eat bacon and be happy" plan because it is better than where they started. Their weight loss will stall at some point. That's when they need to come back and reread this thread. But, between going PB and stalling, they get a chance to do a lot of healing and I'm all for that.

    It's about different stages in the weight loss journey. Right now, I'm working on those last few pounds. I'm perfectly healthy. It's just a matter of settling for an OK body or making an effort and smarter choices and having an awesome one. I choose awesome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Knoxville, TN

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    New Zealand
    Fantastic post, thanks Paleobird. I was following your thread to start with, but it got too big and complicated for my newbie brain to comprehend. As one who fits in your 'not ready' list, I plan to print this out for the happy day when I am healed and heading for 'awesome'. Congrats very much on your success!
    Started Feb 18 2011

    Tried basic primal and almost everything else in pursuit of IBS control, mood stability, and weight loss.

    Journalling here

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Sydney, NSW
    Very succinct Robin.

    Here is a way of calculating your HSIS weight, based on BMI. I'll use a 5'7" woman as an example

    1. Start with your ideal BMI. 22.5 is the normal midpoint
    2. Multiply by the square of your height in metres to get HSIS weight in kg. Eg 5'7" is 1.7m (multiply height in inches by 0.0254) so that gives 22.5*1.7*1.7=65 kg
    3. Multiply by 2.2 to convert to pounds - 65*2.2=143lb
    4. At HSIS weight, a woman will have approx 20% body fat and a man approx 13%. Call this number x. Lean body mass is then (1-x/100)*HSIS. So our hot woman will have (1-.2)*143=114lb LBM
    5. Target protein should then be this number in g, ie 114g of protein per day
    Four years Primal with influences from Jaminet & Shanahan and a focus on being anti-inflammatory. Using Primal to treat CVD and prevent stents from blocking free of drugs.

    Eat creatures nose-to-tail (animal, fowl, fish, crustacea, molluscs), a large variety of vegetables (raw, cooked and fermented, including safe starches), dairy (cheese & yoghurt), occasional fruit, cocoa, turmeric & red wine

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks so much for posting this, Paleobird! This is a great help.

    I have been so danged frustrated at my lack of weight loss and raising my fat intake wasn't working. But what you say makes sense.

    Raising the protein should (hopefully) keep hunger at bay and may just be what I need to start dropping some weight.
    Last edited by calluses; 05-01-2011 at 03:58 PM. Reason: sometimes I type too fast. . .

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    New Zealand
    I think that another factor is simply your personality and self-awareness of that.

    I don't need a lot of data points. When I first lost a lot of weight (from several years of emotional eating and junk food), I just exercised and followed my intuition with eating. I used the question: do i feel good? am i happy and satisfied? And if the answer was "yes" -- then I was good to go. I lost a lot of weight in about 6 months -- and went from a size 14 to a size 4.

    I grant that I was a vegan and triathlete at the time, but I lost the weight and kept it off for many years, later going back to vegetarian, and now primal. I also changed how I exercised throughout that time, too, so it's not just a static situation. My life changed a lot in a decade, and so did my needs. But, I have learned how my body works -- what it likes for movement, sleep, food -- and how capable and adaptable it is. My only data point was whether or not I was happy. Which is the primary reason why I moved from vegan to vegetarian to primal anyway.

    I think that another person coming to primal (or any diet really) and needing to loose weight can do the same thing. Learn the principles, follow them, and have success without a lot of data points.

    It just depends upon the personality.

    But, what I think is fascinating is that when you actually look at the numbers -- and I went and recorded a few days worth of stuff just to see how it rolled out -- my diet is basically the same as yours. I eat about 1600 cals per day, across two meals (sometimes one; sometimes three) in a 35/15/45 or 30/20/50 split depending upon the given day.

    I discovered that most of the meat that we eat is lean: venison, flank steaks (they are less expensive), chicken, fish. We have bacon -- about 2-3 times per week, and I usually have 1-2 pieces. Eggs, of course, usually in butter. And lots of vegetables with olive oil or avocado (if we eat an avocado, we don't often have olive oil; if we are using olive oil, we won't use the avocado).

    It's fascinating, really.

    I love how people can have such different approaches and end up in the same place.

    (also, I'm really happy for your success! Congratulations!)
    Last edited by zoebird; 05-01-2011 at 04:15 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Great post!
    If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least and this (personal fave):

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    UK, South Yorkshire
    Thank you for writing this

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diana Renata View Post
    I really like this.
    Thank you, Diana. The original thread just got so huge and unwieldy that a newbie looking for info could get lost in there and end up more confused than they started

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jac View Post
    Fantastic post, thanks Paleobird. I was following your thread to start with, but it got too big and complicated for my newbie brain to comprehend. As one who fits in your 'not ready' list, I plan to print this out for the happy day when I am healed and heading for 'awesome'. Congrats very much on your success!
    Thanks, Jac. When I said some people are not ready I meant that calorie restriction should not be their top priority until other things are healed up. As I recall you have had some IBS issues. But while you are dealing with that and healing, there is no reason why you couldn't do a little sensible portion control too. Just keep the main focus on healing. BTW, you are already awesome.

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