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  1. #1
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    Calorie Counting Revisited : Distillation and Update

    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.

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  3. #3
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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

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    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

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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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    You are awesome Paleo, this is just the conformation I needed and is what my body has been telling me...

    No cravings or binges. Very compliant with PB eating 100%. I sleep well, get plenty of vitamin D,
    lots of play, minimal stress, tons of veggies, no cravings for processed junk, lots of good proteins and fats.
    Dairy free, legume free,gluten free,sugar free, minimal nuts and berries. Almost always good about following the PBF workout routine.
    I’m doing everything “right”, right?
    This is not something that you have to struggle with, you should just
    be able to meet this process without even thinking about it.

    I believe until you can do the above w/o effort and it comes natural, then your body has not reached this process below:

    "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.
    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?

    This is a big one "he is talking about people with carbs running their metabolisms " if this is happening you will more then likely fail
    PB if you try and cut calories at this stage.. your system must change over to "Those of us long since over carbs are running on fat"""

    We see so many drinking beer, wine, pizza, chips ect. Until you let your body reach this point above it will never happen for you, you must heal your body and let the change happen!! For some that can take month's. The faster you reach 100% PB the faster it will happen..
    I am talking no cravings, someone can put a pizza, chips, beer, chocolete, pie,icecream.. infront of you and you can say no thank you!!!!
    Or you can go out to eat and make the right choose to eat what is on the menu and PB compliant...

    I have reached this process it is awesome!! I have found that for some reason that if I eat something that
    throws it off, all I have to do is eat high fat & high protien for a few days and its is back on track..
    small things that can throw it out of whack. To much fruit, cream ,nuts... listen to your body..

    I am 100% PB since 8/2010 between Aug. and Jan. it was really tough and have lost 25 pounds just from
    changing to low carbs,no gluten,no sugar, I had a lot of gut healing to do...
    I now know this is the next step to losing more weight, I can feel my body and mind has made the change
    and it is easy to be compliant without thought!!!

    Thanks again Paleo for all you guys do!!
    Last edited by Eatmydust; 05-02-2011 at 10:17 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eatmydust View Post
    You are awesome Paleo, this is just the conformation I needed and is what my body has been telling me...

    This is not something that you have to struggle with, you should just
    be able to meet this process without even thinking about it.

    I believe until you can do the above w/o effort and it comes natural, then your body has not reached this process below:



    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?

    This is a big one "he is talking about people with carbs running their metabolisms " if this is happening you will more then likely fail
    PB if you try and cut calories at this stage.. your system must change over to "Those of us long since over carbs are running on fat"""

    We see so many drinking beer, wine, pizza, chips ect. Until you let your body reach this point above it will never happen for you, you must heal your body and let the change happen!! For some that can take month's. The faster you reach 100% PB the faster it will happen..
    I am talking no cravings, someone can put a pizza, chips, beer, chocolete, pie,icecream.. infront of you and you can say no thank you!!!!
    Or you can go out to eat and make the right choose to eat what is on the menu and PB compliant...

    I have reached this process it is awesome!! I have found that for some reason that if I eat something that
    throws it off, all I have to do is eat high fat & high protien for a few days and its is back on track..
    small things that can throw it out of whack. To much fruit, cream ,nuts... listen to your body..

    I am 100% PB since 8/2010 between Aug. and Jan. it was really tough and have lost 25 pounds just from
    changing to low carbs,no gluten,no sugar, I had a lot of gut healing to do...
    I now know this is the next step to losing more weight, I can feel my body and mind has made the change
    and it is easy to be compliant without thought!!!

    Thanks again Paleo for all you guys do!!
    Yes, once the hybrid engine that is your metabolism gets switched over to running on fat instead of running on carbs you feel like a classic sports car that has been running on low octane gas and has finally gotten a tankful of the good stuff. Your engine just starts humming along. I wish you the best of continued success.

  8. #8
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    Calorie restriction is a very interesting thing. I'm aware calorie restriction promotes weight loss, but what "weight loss" are we promoting? It is my opinion that calorie restriction largely promotes the loss of muscle mass and bone density with low rates of fat loss. I'm proving this to myself as I've lost significant amounts of body fat since going primal while increasing muscle mass. I'm eating considerably more calories now than on a CW lifestyle. I also run less.

    To the OP: your situation is interesting, and I'd love to know what your insulin and leptin levels are. The thing that no one mentions around here is that very low carb diets promote insulin and leptin resistance as well. That's the thing about poisons: small quantities are healthier than none because it actually keeps your body's defenses in check. I'll sit here and argue that 95% wheat restriction is better than 100%. A serving of grains or legumes once every week or two may actually help you, and if you're a celiac, there's always a couple potatoes here or there. Here's the low-down on super low carb:

    I went on a cyclical ketogenic diet probably a year ago. This involved 5.5 days of practically no carbs with 1.5 days of very high carb. The CKD was very successful for 4-6 weeks, but after that, there were drop-offs. It was strongly recommended you'd get off by week 8 at the latest. What would happen was the absence of carbs made people's bodies unable to efficiently process them over time, and they became so insulin resistant from cutting them out, all the fat they'd lose through 5.5 days of keto would be reaccumulated with a 1.5 day carb up.

    A word on leptin: we all know what insulin is. It's the storage hormone that causes us to store all that nasty fat, but what about leptin? That's the hormone that tells fat cells to release fat, so people with low leptin levels, even though they're not storing fat due to low insulin levels, they're not losing any, either. As insulin levels drop, so do leptin levels, so long bouts of low carb eating result in plateaus because leptin levels bottom out.

    That's where carb refeeds come in. The idea is to eat low carb for a few days, then shoot your carbs through the roof to regularly refuel insulin and leptin levels and promote insulin and leptin sensitivities. To the OP: I wonder how you would respond to regular carb refeeds. You may be a person that becomes resistant to leptin easily, so you'll have trouble losing body fat without regular starchy carbs in your diet. You may be losing fat restricting calories, but I'm curious in what ratio. How much muscle and bone density are you sacrificing to lose that body fat? The beauty of the regular carb refeed is it's more about manipulating hormones than messing with calories. I was on a plateau and I broke through it by spending 2 weekends eating sweet potatoes and a little fruit.

    Try this for a simple carb refeed:

    Monday thru Friday, eat primally. Keep your carbs low and fat high like normal.

    Saturday through Sunday, eat 250g of carbs. Get those carbs from yams, white rice or soaked beans. Keep fat low, under 35g. Get your protein from very lean chicken breast and white fish. Eat 1-2 pieces of fruit a day, preferably apples or berries. The idea is to refill your liver glycogen with fructose, but fruit should not make up much of your carbs due to fructose's ability to be easily stored as fat.


    Now, let's say you're very active and you want to carb cycle. I'm quite active, so if I were to carb cycle, I'd do the following for me based on my workouts:

    Monday: Sprints - high fat/low carb primal
    Tuesday: Chest/back - low fat/high carb
    Wednesday: OFF - 24 hour IF
    Thursday: Sprints - high fat/low carb primal
    Friday: Shoulders/arms - low fat/high carb
    Saturday: Low level cardio - high fat/low carb primal
    Sunday: Core - moderate carb/lower fat

    On lifting days, I start every workout with squats and every other workout follow squats with dead lifts.

    Why don't you try something like this out? I bet you're sacrificing more muscle and bone matter than you should be restricting calories. Carb cycling allows you to keep your muscle and bone while lowering body fat levels. This is how the body builders get down to 5% body fat, so I'm sure it'll be more than sufficient for us average Joe's.

    I have a ton of sweet potatoes at home, so I plan on doing a carb refeed either Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday. I haven't decided yet. Either way, on the high carb days, I'll be going for 250g of carbs, mostly from starch with 2 apples mixed in, and 35g of fat or less.
    Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 05-04-2011 at 12:30 PM.
    Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

  9. #9
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    @ChooTaco369

    While running in ketosis, weight loss is pure fat because fat is the fuel being used.
    No doubt you have lost weight. I did too at first. Then comes the stall.
    Get your facts straight. High carb diets promote leptin and insulin resistance, not low carb diets.
    If you want to do super low carb then insanely high amount of carb cycles, fine, have fun. But I prefer to just maintain a sensibly low (not nonexistent) carb level all the time. It's just more practical. I stay under 50 gr/day to stay in ketosis. (Purple ketostix to prove it).
    I am not sacrificing any muscle mass or strength. In fact, my workouts feel better than ever. I know the weight loss is fat loss because I can see it when I'm in a bikini. What were stubborn pockets of excess padding are melting away.

    Thank you for trying to save me from myself. I really do appreciate the thought. But, I have found something that works here. I'm glad you have found something that works for you.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleobird View Post
    @ChooTaco369

    While running in ketosis, weight loss is pure fat because fat is the fuel being used.
    No doubt you have lost weight. I did too at first. Then comes the stall.
    Get your facts straight. High carb diets promote leptin and insulin resistance, not low carb diets.
    That's not true. When carbs are routinely restricted from your body, your body becomes less efficient at processing them. Eating 100g of carbs a day with an occasional starch is great for insulin sensitivity. Eating VLC all the time, never incorporating fruits or starches and constantly slipping into ketosis isn't. Your body loses the mechanisms to handle them, just like your immune system suffers in a sterile environment. Carb cycling is far more effective at burning fat than both ketosis and primal. That is a fact, and it's why carb cycling is the #1 choice of body builders. Primal is a far more effective tool for overall health than fat loss, and if you disagree with me, perhaps you need to get your facts straight.

    Carbohydrates are not evil. You just need to learn how to manipulate them. That is the true key to fat loss, because carbs are what drive our hormones the most. Constantly keeping carbs low is running the race against yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paleobird View Post
    If you want to do super low carb then insanely high amount of carb cycles, fine, have fun. But I prefer to just maintain a sensibly low (not nonexistent) carb level all the time. It's just more practical. I stay under 50 gr/day to stay in ketosis. (Purple ketostix to prove it).
    I am not sacrificing any muscle mass or strength. In fact, my workouts feel better than ever. I know the weight loss is fat loss because I can see it when I'm in a bikini. What were stubborn pockets of excess padding are melting away.

    Thank you for trying to save me from myself. I really do appreciate the thought. But, I have found something that works here. I'm glad you have found something that works for you.
    250g of carbs is not an insanely high amount of carbs. For CW Americans, that is a low day. It's far too high to eat every day for sure, but you will see better results from eating cyclical high carb days than being VLC all the time. Keto plateaus just like primal does. Ketones aren't magic. Carb cycling...it really is.

    There is too much brainwashing around here that carbs are pure evil. Remember the hump we all had to get over when we figured out saturated fat wasn't bad, but actually healthy? It's the same thing with carbs. They aren't evil. You just have to know how to use them.
    Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

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