I know counting calories is discouraged, BUT...
...I kind of need to, at least for right now, and I was hoping to get some advice from those of you with a little more primal experience under your belts!
Here are the basics: I am a 21-year-old female, 5'5", ~135 lbs, body fat percentage somewhere in the mid-20s. I've been eating strictly Paleo for 14 days and have already lost about 7 lbs of what is probably water weight. I am not overweight by anyone's definition (except possibly my own, but that depends on which side of the bed I wake up on more than anything!) but I would still like to lose some weight. Well, lose fat, actually. I'm pretty keen on holding onto the muscle that I have.
The reason I am so attached to counting calories is that for the last few years, I have going back and forth between being a serial dieter and genuinely eating disordered. I even did a brief stint in the hospital, although I never actually got underweight to begin with. My views of what is a healthy or unhealthy portion have been skewed, and I am still learning how to tell the differences among boredom, cravings, and actual hunger.
All my doctors are aware that I am eating Paleo now, and I'm keeping them mostly in the loop with how I eat and everything, so there's no risk of me relapsing while they've all got their eyes on me. No worries there.
At first I was eating between 1400 and 1600 calories a day, with roughly 50%-70% of that as fat, 25%-40% as protein, 15%-25% as carbohydrates. Now I have bumped my calories up to around 1800-1900, as I am concerned that eating too little will actually hinder my weight loss. As of yesterday I have also decreased my carbohydrate consumption to under 40 g, for now at least.
I am doing a lot of walking - around 6 hours a week (and that's just the walking I do on my local trails, so excluding everyday activity), sometimes more. I do some pilates, squats, and knee push-ups (not strong enough for the real ones yet!) about twice a week. I also do a short, intense session on an elliptical machine every 7-10 days as my "sprint".
Obviously staying healthy is my number one goal, but I would like to lose fat as swiftly as I healthily can. Does anyone have opinions of how I am going about things? Any changes I should make? Any ways I can speed up this process?
There's no speeding it up. Everything you are doing looks fine. It's good that you are not afraid of upping your fat. Eat until you are satiated, wait until you are hungry, eat again. Limit carbs to those found in vegetables and one serving of fruit a day. A healthy 21 year old needs some body fat to continue to have normal menstrual cycles.
I'd actually eat a rounded diet that includes starch, fruit and veggie carbs. Why not use this time to set up healthy eating habits that includes the consumption of good carbs, proteins and fats. And be patient with the fat loss.
When you try and rush things and start restricting the hell out of what you eat.... that is what creates the cyclical dieting. Yeah, you could go VLC and burn off your fat. Then you'd add carbs back in and gain water and freak out and start another cycle.
Amen. That is, essentially, what i did upon discovering primal eating. I subconciously set myself up to try the strictest path possible: max 50 grams of carbs a day, no fruit, full excercise routine. It was utter failure - you sound like you're fine, but if you should, at any point, feel like it becomes too hard dont be afraid to ease up on your diet/excercise.
Originally Posted by magnolia1973
There is nothing wrong with count calories. I'd encourage counting macro nutrients as well. When adjusting to Primal eating though, I'd recommend NOT limiting calorie intake. I track what I eat using very precise means, mostly because I enjoy doing it. What I have discovered is that your calorie intake matters little when compared to Carb intake. If I increased my carb intake, keeping a constant calorie intake, I gained weight.
If you're overly concious about weight i'd say there is something wrong with tracking your calories. Imo its totally fine if you're just enjoying the 'science' and 'fix' of proper nutrition. I understand alot of people here get off on seeing figures displaying their perfect macronutrient ratios for the day, which is harmless UNLESS you're overly focused on diet.
If you need to count calories then about 14 kcal/lbs is a good start which is 1890 for you and it seems that your already eating that way. I'd say do that during the week and on the weekends bump the calories up to 15 kcal/lbs which is ~2000 and increase your carbs that day. Since your eating under 40 grams a day you could go up to 80 grams on the weekends. The reason for the increase is to keep your metabolism running fast, I used this method for my fitness model competition and it worked really well.
Thanks for the advice, everyone. I am at a bit of a loss as to what to do in the short term though, in light of a bit of a "hiccup" in my plans that I had this morning.
Earlier this morning I got on the scale and saw that I gained nearly two pounds since yesterday. I know that weight fluctuates and all that, but I panicked, got upset, and then I binged. Half a jar of almond butter, two Larabars, and a banana... all Paleo foods, but that's beside the point. It was not a smart move. Way too many carbs, and enough total calories for an entire day!
I am relatively certain it was the scale incident that triggered the binge, though, and not cravings (I can usually tell which one it is).
My knee-jerk reaction is to say, hell, I'm not eating for the rest of the day. I'll just do better tomorrow. Is there any reason that's a bad idea?
Just eat a good primal meal next time you are hungry.
WEIGHT FLUCTUATES for no reason. Just remember that. Here is a handy chart of my weightloss:
I have gained weight after eating perfectly, lost after binges and everything in between. Just keep at it and track weight over time. Anything can make you retain water- even exercise.
The key is to have an alternative to the scale- "my jeans are looser" says more than "oooooo lost 5 lbs on the scale". Use both. I have had weeks where I have not lost a pound but lost 5-6 inches.
This is going to sound harsh, but trust me, I do not mean it that way. Yes, you obviously know that that is a bad idea to not eat for the rest of the day. Sorry, but if you have been hospitalized for an eating disorder, you know what ED behaviors are. A lot of the people on this forum have screwed up metabolisms and are overweight and need to restrict their carbs in order to fix their bodies. The advice that they give comes from this frame of mind.
You stated yourself that you are not overweight. If you have body dysmorphia, which you likely do, then it is probably that you are, in fact, underweight. You say that there is no chance of you relapsing, but it sounds to me like you are still having behaviors.
Unlike most of the people here, I have had an eating disorder, so this stuff is not going to go over my head! You should stop counting calories. IMO, counting calories is a behavior. For me, I was only able to let go of the neuroses involved with my ED once I stopped counting calories and macros. Eat real food. Eat plenty of it. Make sure to get in lots of fat and protein. Don't worry if you eat "too many" carbs. I'm sure you already have calories memorized, so just try to avoid doing the math.
It's great that you want to focus on being healthy; being primal is a great way to do it. For me, it has been an amazing success. I have maintained a healthy weight and a healthy BF with no counting, no weighing, no measuring. But you need to get go of the disordered way of thinking about food. There are other things that can help. If you want any advice or have any questions, feel free to ask or PM me.
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