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Old 01-26-2013, 09:39 PM   #1
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Confusing Messages about Calories

I recently started working with a personal trainer at the local Y, and she weighed me with a scale the tells you what percentage of your weight is fat, which percentage is muscle, and which percentage is water. It also tells you how many calories you should eat for weight maintenance. I was hoping to use this as a base line to develop a better understanding of how many calories I should eat, but the reading I got was very confusing.

I currently weigh 173 pounds, am 30 yrs old, and am 5 foot 6. My goal is to weigh approximately 130 pounds by June. I exercise 5-6 days a week, often rather intensely-sometimes I do things like spinning, walking on a treadmill, and the eliptical machine, all in the same day. So, I expected the scale to say that I need over 2,000 calories to maintain my weight, which would make eating 1,600 to 1,800 a good goal. Anyway, the scale said that I need only 1,543 calories to MAINTAIN my weight. This does not make sense to me, as I definitely think that I've been eating more than that throughout my weight loss efforts. (I used to weigh over 250 lbs and have been on a low carb diet since March of 2011.) My trainer did some math and she said her math says that I would need over 2,600 cals to maintain my current weight, which makes more sense. The scale also said that I have the inner workings of a 45-year-old, which was depressing and, again, didn't make a lot of sense to me.

Anyway, the trainer and her assistant than told me that I wasn't eating enough for my exercise level. This ticked me off-the scale says I should eat significantly less, but they feel I should eat more? I don't get it. That night I calculated my calorie consumption and I got about 1,350 cals for that day, so I ate a full fat yogurt to bring it to around 1600. But, I didn't really feel hungry at that point and still struggle in general with eating when I'm not hungry, even though they said I should eat more. I'm confused. I also was told by my nutritionist and trainers to eat more carbs, and I don't want to right now. I've been hovering in the 170s for several months because of adding carbs and I want to continue losing, so I've been doing semi-induction levels lately and lost 7 pounds. Anyway, I'm just frustrated because of the inconsistency of it all. How many calories do you eat? Do you count calories? How much do you exercise?
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:27 PM   #2
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I have little faith in most dieticians and personal trainers when it comes to diet: most of them are still stuck in "a calorie is a calorie is a calorie" (not all, mind you). I have infinitely less faith in a machine that knows as much about you as you get by stepping on it (and I'm a software developer and total geek).

I'm not familiar enough with the paleolithic diet to give advice there, but I wouldn't let a few charts and machines confuse you. I'm more an Atkins kind of guy, so I don't bother with calories. I will say make sure you are eating enough, regardless of diet type.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:41 PM   #3
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I agree.
I would suggest you incorporate some strength training. Build muscle and it will burn fat all day. Cardio is good for your heart and lungs, and it burns fat while you are doing it, but there are more effective ways to build muscle. You might want to check out Fred Hahn's "Slow Burn". There are several but his name comes to mind.
I think your body will tell you what it needs.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:54 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Lucy1018 View Post
Anyway, I'm just frustrated because of the inconsistency of it all. How many calories do you eat? Do you count calories? How much do you exercise?
I never got much value of counting calories. It's just a poor way of measuring food. Our biology doesn't tally "calories", it sends molecules of glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids to different places to do different things, and burns the same in varying proportions depending on the exercise/exerciser.

In your position I would eat enough fat to avoid hunger, especially nutrient-dense fats (eggs, fish, nuts), and time the protein and carbs for post-workout recovery. Most people can trust their instincts on protein quantity. If you feel fine with no carbs then keep it up but if your performance is not improving then maybe add some after workouts (preferably non-sugar non-wheat).
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:31 AM   #5
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Well in my opinion, I don't think you should increase your calories. The theory behind the atkins diet is pretty sound. Is it the atkins diet you are following? I never factor my exercise into my daily calories, because your body eventually learns to become very efficient at burning calories and eventually exercise doesn't make a significant enough difference in weight loss, unless you up the ante. Ie. making it more intense or doing it for longer periods of time. For me in the past if I tried to factor in my exercise it resulted in weight gain. Now I just go with what a regular calorie intake would be for someone my age, weight and height. And that seems to work.
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucy1018 View Post
I recently started working with a personal trainer at the local Y, and she weighed me with a scale the tells you what percentage of your weight is fat, which percentage is muscle, and which percentage is water. It also tells you how many calories you should eat for weight maintenance. I was hoping to use this as a base line to develop a better understanding of how many calories I should eat, but the reading I got was very confusing.

I currently weigh 173 pounds, am 30 yrs old, and am 5 foot 6. My goal is to weigh approximately 130 pounds by June. I exercise 5-6 days a week, often rather intensely-sometimes I do things like spinning, walking on a treadmill, and the eliptical machine, all in the same day. So, I expected the scale to say that I need over 2,000 calories to maintain my weight, which would make eating 1,600 to 1,800 a good goal. Anyway, the scale said that I need only 1,543 calories to MAINTAIN my weight. This does not make sense to me, as I definitely think that I've been eating more than that throughout my weight loss efforts. (I used to weigh over 250 lbs and have been on a low carb diet since March of 2011.) My trainer did some math and she said her math says that I would need over 2,600 cals to maintain my current weight, which makes more sense. The scale also said that I have the inner workings of a 45-year-old, which was depressing and, again, didn't make a lot of sense to me.

Anyway, the trainer and her assistant than told me that I wasn't eating enough for my exercise level. This ticked me off-the scale says I should eat significantly less, but they feel I should eat more? I don't get it. That night I calculated my calorie consumption and I got about 1,350 cals for that day, so I ate a full fat yogurt to bring it to around 1600. But, I didn't really feel hungry at that point and still struggle in general with eating when I'm not hungry, even though they said I should eat more. I'm confused. I also was told by my nutritionist and trainers to eat more carbs, and I don't want to right now. I've been hovering in the 170s for several months because of adding carbs and I want to continue losing, so I've been doing semi-induction levels lately and lost 7 pounds. Anyway, I'm just frustrated because of the inconsistency of it all. How many calories do you eat? Do you count calories? How much do you exercise?
I do JUDDD, which is a calorie centered IF plan. On my normal/up days I eat between 1,800-2,000 calories. On my fasting/down days I eat between 350-600 calories. I do not exercise at all right now. I'm 34yrs old, 5ft, 6in, started at 170.5lbs last October and I'm down to 142.5lbs now

Figure out your TDEE, this will be your most accurate way of seeing how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. To lose weight you'd then subtract 20-25% from that number. If you google TDEE calculator, the first one that pops up is a good one-really breaks down every minute of your day and what you're doing activity wise.

Last edited by mom23kids; 01-27-2013 at 05:47 AM..
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Old 01-27-2013, 06:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucy1018 View Post
I'm just frustrated because of the inconsistency of it all.

How many calories do you eat? Do you count calories? How much do you exercise?
yup too much info out there and every single person is an EXPERT!

5'8
51 F
Oct, 7 start 230, current 205.5, goal 170 or lower


Atkins but I enhance with some extra low carb help.
I eat about 1600 cals.
max carbs 20-25 per day
protein 80 grams per day
max fat 130 grams per day, never below 70 grams
for every gram of protein I eat over 80, I take 1/2 gram of fat away from max number.

for every 6-8 lbs. I lose I put my new stats into my calculator and find my new target calorie, protein and fat grams. As I lose weight the amts. change so I can stay up with it and keep losing on track.

light exercise. walk dog. yardwork. own a farm so deal with livestock. I move all day long. no regular scheduled exercise. hate it to the max. swim in summer, hike, bike all that.
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:10 AM   #8
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I'm 5'6 and at goal (110) and I eat around 1200 calories a day. I never eat more calories for exercise because I think that defeats the purpose. I don't think we should eat more when we exercise unless someone is training for many hours a day. My exercise varies depending on my mood (sometimes I just want to do more). Right now I am doing pilates-ish exercises and strength training, elliptical, and swimming about 5 days a week for around an hour. I also walk a ton and run stairs everyday.

I wouldn't force myself to eat more just to reach some arbitrary number.
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:59 AM   #9
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Interesting little calculator!
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:04 AM   #10
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Maybe I'm just confused. You say that you lost 77 pounds in 11 months on a low carb plan. Now that you've added more carbs, the weight loss has stalled. So, you want to start counting calories?

Why not go back to the plan that's been working? Go back to your previous carb level.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:11 AM   #11
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I don't trust any calculators. I just tried that one and it told me to eat 1700 calories to maintain. At that rate I would be gaining. Where do they get these numbers?
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:13 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by low-carb-c View Post
Maybe I'm just confused. You say that you lost 77 pounds in 11 months on a low carb plan. Now that you've added more carbs, the weight loss has stalled. So, you want to start counting calories?

Why not go back to the plan that's been working? Go back to your previous carb level.


Go back to what is working for you. Trust your experience.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nolcjunk View Post
I don't trust any calculators. I just tried that one and it told me to eat 1700 calories to maintain. At that rate I would be gaining. Where do they get these numbers?
It's assuming you have a 'metabolic advantage", in other words, it assumes you are in ketosis.

Google it
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:26 AM   #14
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it is the calculator I use. I have increased my lbs. lost ALOT since finding it. it works. if not for all, the people who do use it and it works the results are FAB!
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:45 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jentastic View Post
It's assuming you have a 'metabolic advantage", in other words, it assumes you are in ketosis.

Google it
I am in ketosis and would gain eating that many calories. And, eating too much is the reason I was stalled during weight loss.
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:33 AM   #16
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The assistant is right.

I dunno about that scale. Seems too whacky to trust. I thought scales that measure LBM couldn't accurately distinguish between types of LBM anyway. If they could why would anyone pay for a DEXA scan? And how can a scale assess your internal organ health?

The calorie recommendation the scale generated is silly.

Her math is correct. The formula is (weight/2.2)*35 but she used 33. The range is 30 to 35 going from sedentary to active.

Following the math,(130/2.2)*35, your goal weight of 130 works out to about ~2000 to *maintain*. So eating 2000 calories at your current weight is about a 600 calorie deficit or a pound a week of weight loss (which can be hidden by various factors like transient water retention).

If you have been consistently eating 1300 calories with this regimen you might expect to gain some weight when you bump the calories but it will mostly be LBM.

Start at 2000 and see how it goes. It sounds like you are doing a lot of aerobic type exercise? You may need to reduce calories from 2000 to make up for an otherwise slower resting metabolism.

What is really interesting is that your trainer's math is the math the Dr. Phinney himself uses.

If you don't eat enough calories you are fighting your body for weight loss. And you risk LBM.

If you were just taking a casual approach to weight loss then counting calories isn't all that important, or important at all, particularly if you are getting good results.

Do you count the reps you are doing when you are working out? Why?

As for eating when not hungry, do you work out when you don't feel like it? Consider your food intake to be less about satiety and more about fueling your body.

I do zero exercise.

Resistance exercise is really the only LC friendly exercise. Non-resistance stuff tends to lower resting metabolism. Intense all week long exercise is counterproductive to weight loss.

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Old 01-27-2013, 11:25 AM   #17
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generally speaking, people don't know what they are talking about. smile, nod, and do what works for you. those calculators are just wild ass guesses AT BEST. all our bodies are different.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:43 AM   #18
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"WOE: Paleolithic-no dairy, moderate amounts of fruit"

Dang I missed that when I made my first post.

Depending on the fruit you probably will have to restrict calories under 2000 because you are eating a moderate to high carb level. Not because your trainer's math is wrong but because modern fruits are sugar bombs. Intense exercise, already very low calorie, moderate fruit consumption - a perfect stall storm.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:48 AM   #19
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I haven't read the other responses, but if you took yourself from 250 to 173 you already know what to do. Keep doing it until/unless it quits working for you.

You live in your body. Trainers, dieticians and machines do not. Do what feels right to you.
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