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Old 05-14-2013, 04:17 PM   #1
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Juggling calories and carbs

When I started my LC woe I didn't count calories. Then about a month ago I decided to add them to my log. I think this is good because it's more information on how I'm eating.

However, it does start up that whole calorie thing, which I'd hoped to get away from. My problem is that high fat gives me low carbs but high calories, and low calorie can make me hungry fast.

And although my appetite is supressed on low carb, it isn't absent, and then there's all the different kinds of appetite/hunger. Don't want just a piece of meat for dinner for instance, can't sustain that. I need some variety on my plate, or it won't last for me.

So here's my question. Say you determine via a calorie calculator that you need to eat 1500 calories a day to lose a pound of weight a week. I have heard that you can add 300 calories to that on a LC woe. Of course it's controversial---if it's one thing I've found in all my research this time around on a LC woe, EVERYTHING about eating is controversial.

But I'm just wondering what y'all have to say about it. I appreciate your experience and wisdom.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:10 PM   #2
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I don't look at calories... Not yet anyway. I am saving that for when I get closer to goal and need to balance my maintenance levels. I find not having to count calories as one of the advantages to the LC lifestyle.

Have you thought about simply counting the calories for research purposes but not actually taking them into consideration when planning and eating your healthy (and satisfying) LC meals and snacks?
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:23 PM   #3
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I don't look at calories... Not yet anyway. I am saving that for when I get closer to goal and need to balance my maintenance levels. I find not having to count calories as one of the advantages to the LC lifestyle.

Have you thought about simply counting the calories for research purposes but not actually taking them into consideration when planning and eating your healthy (and satisfying) LC meals and snacks?
Yes I have thought about that, and that's how it started for me. I said to myself my priorities are the amt of carbs I'm eating, and the rest is just data. But you know how it is, once you start logging it, it influences you. There's very good things about logging, but it can lead to a "diet" mentality. And I'm really NOT interested in that. Been there done that. It works great till you're off the "diet."
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:38 PM   #4
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If you aren't getting enough variety, try different veggies. It doesn't take a wheat product to create variety.

On tracking calories, here's what I would do: track them if you must, but do it for historical purposes. You will then have more data on what makes you gain, what makes you lose, what causes cravings, etc. Let carbs guide your decisions for now.

Eventually, you may hit a point where calories and carbs both matter. With your historical data, you will be able to use that info to influence better food choices. Remember, a calorie is not a calorie. By having a log, you'll be able to tell which foods are best eaten for your weightless.

Finally, if tracking calories will subconsciously (or consciously) cause you to arbitrarily lower fat intake or increase carbs, I wouldn't track them. That behavior will likely lead you down a path of deprivation, which few people are successful on.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:59 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Geekin' in Utah View Post
If you aren't getting enough variety, try different veggies. It doesn't take a wheat product to create variety.

On tracking calories, here's what I would do: track them if you must, but do it for historical purposes. You will then have more data on what makes you gain, what makes you lose, what causes cravings, etc. Let carbs guide your decisions for now.

Eventually, you may hit a point where calories and carbs both matter. With your historical data, you will be able to use that info to influence better food choices. Remember, a calorie is not a calorie. By having a log, you'll be able to tell which foods are best eaten for your weightless.

Finally, if tracking calories will subconsciously (or consciously) cause you to arbitrarily lower fat intake or increase carbs, I wouldn't track them. That behavior will likely lead you down a path of deprivation, which few people are successful on.
Lots of interesting and good thoughts here. Thank you. And yes, I did start with the calorie logging for "historical purposes" and in case I hit a longer than normal stall.

And I have not lowered fat intake, instead I've often logged greater calories than any calorie calculator says I should, but not by a huge amt. In fact, usually by about the 200 to 300 calories or less that are rumored to be the LC metabolism benefit.

I have the occasional treat, but I'm not looking for variety by adding in white foods, including bread, and have done VERY LITTLE of that in three months. I do like vegetables, mostly in salads, not so much as a side in itself w/a few exceptions I'm not likely to eat every night.

Then there's the dressing, and I'm not one to be happy w/a tbsp of olive oil on my salads, but I do pay strict attention to the sugars/carbs in dressings. But almost any dressing is about 100 cals a tablespoon, and a tablespoon does not go very far---at least not far enough to satisfy me on a medium to good sized salad.

But you know, you make a good point. I was losing just fine, slowly but surely, for my gentler LC woe---averaging 30 to 35 carbs a day---before I started counting calories, and I have to keep that in mind.

It's always a head game.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:24 PM   #6
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I always found those calorie calculators total nonsense. you just have to see what works for you.

I agree, if you are losing weight, don't worry too much about calories.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:49 PM   #7
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If I had to shoot for a particular calorie range, I think I would be tempted to shoot myself instead of the calorie target. With that said, though, I do eat a LOT LESS than I ate before the diet. And I weigh, measure, and track all of my food so I know that my calories are consistently in the deficit range. But I was a food psycho before I started the diet, so I *had to* learn to eat smaller portions. And that's how I, personally, control what I'm eating -- by eating smaller portions rather than aiming at a calorie target. I've learned that what my *brain* thinks is a satisfying portion is much larger than what my *body* actually finds to be a satisfying portion.

So I honestly haven't been hungry since I've been on the diet. And I haven't had to struggle with keeping my portions smaller than they were before the diet because I'm eating foods that satisfy me, so I legitimately enjoy my meals and eat until I'm satisfied but not stuffed. I just pick foods that I enjoy from the lists in the book and I build menus around those foods and then just call it a day.

I think this is easier for me to do, though, because I'm not shooting for a particular fat macro target or protein macro target, so the approach is easy and simple and it fits my personality. And following the Atkins portion guidelines has meant that I haven't even had to shoot for a particular carb target because eating the foods on the lists according to the quantity guidelines has *naturally* kept my daily carb count within the correct range.

I think the reason Atkins works for me (as an individual) is because I don't have to think about anything except "what foods am I allowed to eat, in what quantities, and what foods am I not allowed to eat?" Any diet that required more of me than that wouldn't be something that I could stick to for the long term. So I'm just going to ride this train as far it will take me! If I don't lose another ounce from this point forward, it's still a victory for me because it's GENUINELY a very pleasant way for me to live. I'm not proud of being lazy, but I'm frankly just too lazy to enjoy a plan that I would have to micromanage more intently.

Everybody's different! So I don't think there's really a correct answer. Only what works and what doesn't work for the individual.
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Old 05-15-2013, 02:49 AM   #8
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With me the calorie counting was essential because overeating was what caused me to get fat. I can overeat without feeling full. I too have the issue that my brain seems to think I need more food than I actually do. Eating intuitively does not come naturally for me. Once I had a sense as to what a reasonable amount of daily calories was for someone with my stats, it was easy to play around with the foods and macros to figure out a way "not to overeat." Now I am a bit more lax with calorie counting and measuring/weighing. But I had to train myself to learn proper portion control and what type of foods to eat. I had to count calories to get there.
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:59 AM   #9
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I've always counted calories and still do, mostly out of habit. But I don't care very much about them now. It's mostly just informational. I care about carbohydrates, particularly those derived from sugar and starch, period. (I know that some people need to watch protein, but I experimented and found that wasn't much of an issue in the end so I don't bother anymore.)

This diet is so wonderful for me because it's cut my appetite better than any diet pill, hypnosis or anything else I ever tried so I naturally seem to eat fewer calories. I'm just not battling my hunger demon as I did for so many years on Weight Watchers and other low calorie regimes. And because of that I'm able to make better choices and walk away from the table much more easily than I ever did before.

... as long as I don't go crazy with my carb count. The hunger monkey jumps right back on my back if I do and it takes me a while to shake that miserable critter off again. I hate that.

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Old 05-15-2013, 12:52 PM   #10
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Thanks for the comments everyone.

I googled the LC "300 calorie metabolic advantage", as no one here has mentioned it. Turns out it's from a study of low fat vs. low carb dieting that found the low carbers had a metabolic advantage of about 300 calories a day. I'd post some links to this, but I find sometimes that gets me thrown into pending, so just google it and it will come up.

Of course it's controversial, but it is a respected study that was well covered in the media. Nothing to count on I realize, but intriguing.
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Old 05-15-2013, 01:23 PM   #11
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I pay attention to portion size as opposed to calorie counting. Like a previous poster said, I also don't look at the macro percentages. I suppose if you are particularly sensitive to carbs, you need to really look at carb counts and how that affects your hunger. Eliminating the white stuff significantly reduces your calorie count no matter what. While losing, I needed the bulk or volume I got from veggies to feel satisfied though for others they need more calories often from fat to feel satisfied . My rule of thumb even at my weight now (103 pds) is to eat full fat though much less fat than when I ate carbs foods . Savor not smother and to eat a variety of veggies. Quality of fat counts for me too . Fats from meats and skin on chicken Or butter i never bother to count but portions of dressing I do. I also do not count carbs nor portion sizes of induction Veggies. I eat broccoli , salad and cauli in whatever portions satisfy me. That worked for me. I think playing with counts on induction foods the safest. Once yiu start adding higher carb food yiu will need to monitor calories more closely on all foods.
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Old 05-15-2013, 02:27 PM   #12
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Thanks for the comments everyone.

I googled the LC "300 calorie metabolic advantage", as no one here has mentioned it. Turns out it's from a study of low fat vs. low carb dieting that found the low carbers had a metabolic advantage of about 300 calories a day. I'd post some links to this, but I find sometimes that gets me thrown into pending, so just google it and it will come up.

Of course it's controversial, but it is a respected study that was well covered in the media. Nothing to count on I realize, but intriguing.
That study is what made me decide to try low carb. I didn't particularly seize on that aspect of it, but I did make note of it. I think I just decided to ignore the calorie thing because I found this diet provided me with the tools to resist overeating so I knew my portions were under control so I didn't look too hard at my calories on a daily basis.

I have gone back and analyzed my calorie intake in the past, however, just to see how it's affected my weight loss. If I average 1800 calories of low carb food I don't gain and often lose while I stall and gain if I go over 50 carbs, even if the calories are fairly low -- for several days in a row anyway. So maybe that 300 calorie advantage is true. However, I've been most successful by eating somewhere around 1300-1500 a day, and staying under 35 carbs.

That study prompted three of my acquaintances to try low carb dieting as well, by the way, and we've all been pretty successful so far.
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Old 05-15-2013, 02:40 PM   #13
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Blue Skies - I think the problem with generalizing from a study that says you can add 300 calories ... or from using a calculator that says you need to eat 1500 cals/day.... is that your own body's metabolism is going to be unique. Those numbers are only an estimate.

You might statistically fit into those numbers, but you also might be off at the high or low end.... so its really a matter of figuring out what works for YOUR body's metabolic rate.
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:37 PM   #14
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I think the point is that there is evidence of Atkins "metabolic advantage". It's something that is obvious as you start looking at the biochemistry of low carb diets, but it's also something I still hear people deny.

The study (Effects of Dietary Composition on Energy Expenditure During Weight-Loss Maintenance) shows a difference in total energy expenditure per day of 200-400 calories and around 100 calories in resting energy expenditure. Of course, YMMV and all that. Also, this is a preliminary study which may see the value change, or even go away, when studied in greater detail.

For me, the exciting thing about this study and others like it is that we are starting to see real effort at understanding low carb diets. That means we might actually learn what an optimal low carb diet looks like.
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Old 05-16-2013, 08:26 AM   #15
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I think the point is that there is evidence of Atkins "metabolic advantage". It's something that is obvious as you start looking at the biochemistry of low carb diets, but it's also something I still hear people deny.

The study (Effects of Dietary Composition on Energy Expenditure During Weight-Loss Maintenance) shows a difference in total energy expenditure per day of 200-400 calories and around 100 calories in resting energy expenditure. Of course, YMMV and all that. Also, this is a preliminary study which may see the value change, or even go away, when studied in greater detail.

For me, the exciting thing about this study and others like it is that we are starting to see real effort at understanding low carb diets. That means we might actually learn what an optimal low carb diet looks like.
Agree 100% w/your last paragraph Geekin'. Because you know, this low fat thing the health industry has had America on for the last three decades is down right dangerous to the health of this country, because most people make up for that lost fat w/sugar and wheat, not vegetables.

Whether someone decides to go Low carb in a serious way or just decides to cut back on carbs because of the growing amount of information out there about the problems associated w/high carb eating, it will be a very good thing for this country's health
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Old 05-16-2013, 08:46 AM   #16
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That study is what made me decide to try low carb. I didn't particularly seize on that aspect of it, but I did make note of it. I think I just decided to ignore the calorie thing because I found this diet provided me with the tools to resist overeating so I knew my portions were under control so I didn't look too hard at my calories on a daily basis.

I have gone back and analyzed my calorie intake in the past, however, just to see how it's affected my weight loss. If I average 1800 calories of low carb food I don't gain and often lose while I stall and gain if I go over 50 carbs, even if the calories are fairly low -- for several days in a row anyway. So maybe that 300 calorie advantage is true. However, I've been most successful by eating somewhere around 1300-1500 a day, and staying under 35 carbs.

That study prompted three of my acquaintances to try low carb dieting as well, by the way, and we've all been pretty successful so far.
You're on the exact same woe as me. I too aim for 35 or less a day w/a 1500 calories limit. I started out allowing 1800 a day, dropped to 1500 after a trip through calorie calculator hell.

You inspired me to go back and analyze my log, and I realized that I haven't been losing any more weight on 1500 calls a day than I was on 1800. I think that's because I'm pretty good about sticking to 35 carbs or under a day, and often hit in the twenties.

So I think I will ease up on the 1500 calorie a day thing. It's making me feel like I'm on a diet, and I hate that feeling. I do get plenty of 1500 calories days naturally and of my own choice, not the calculator's. But when higher calorie days happen, up to 1800, I'm not going to sweat it anymore.

1500 TO 1800 calories a day and under 35 carbs seems a woe I can live with. Thank you Rhubarb, and all the other thoughtful posts here, for helping me thrash this thing out w/myself. I'm happily resolved.
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Old 05-16-2013, 10:35 AM   #17
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You're on the exact same woe as me. I too aim for 35 or less a day w/a 1500 calories limit. I started out allowing 1800 a day, dropped to 1500 after a trip through calorie calculator hell.

You inspired me to go back and analyze my log, and I realized that I haven't been losing any more weight on 1500 calls a day than I was on 1800. I think that's because I'm pretty good about sticking to 35 carbs or under a day, and often hit in the twenties.

So I think I will ease up on the 1500 calorie a day thing. It's making me feel like I'm on a diet, and I hate that feeling. I do get plenty of 1500 calories days naturally and of my own choice, not the calculator's. But when higher calorie days happen, up to 1800, I'm not going to sweat it anymore.

1500 TO 1800 calories a day and under 35 carbs seems a woe I can live with. Thank you Rhubarb, and all the other thoughtful posts here, for helping me thrash this thing out w/myself. I'm happily resolved.
You are very welcome. I'm so glad to hear you've found some resolution!

By the way, just as a hint since we seem to have similar metabolisms, like a lot of people I found that I stalled (or at least slowed way down) as I got close to my goal. To jump start weight loss again I had great success doing the meat and egg fast for a week. I woke up the second morning with a mild case of induction flu and that metallic breath and realized that I was back in ketosis big time --- and the scale started to move again.

Now, I'm back up to my 35 carbs and eating all of my favorite veggies and even some legumes from time to time and I haven't started to gain, so I'm hopeful that it didn't translate into an impossible maintenance regime.

I just thought I'd throw that out for when you hit a stall for a month or so. Go very low carb for a few days or a week and you will probably be able to pick things up a little.

Good luck!

Last edited by Rhubarb; 05-16-2013 at 10:37 AM..
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Old 05-16-2013, 11:33 AM   #18
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Thanks for the ideas, Rhubarb.

I'm only 25% to goal, so I've got a ways to travel. My LC woe is gentler, didn't do induction or rungs, and I expected the weight loss to be correspondingly slower. But averaging out the loss per week for 12 weeks on this woe, I'm losing about a pound a week, and that's swell w/me. But yes, when I get closer to goal I know I'll probably have to shake it up.

Sometimes I have to step back and realize how drastically I've cut my carbs. Although I never counted them, I've got no reason not to believe I was right up there w/the average American daily carb intake---250 to 300 grams a day. From there to 35 a day, and often lower, that's quite a leap. But it's doable for me, and doable is what it must be for me to stay on board.

Congratulations on being at or so close to goal. I'll sure like those problems when I get there. Although I have to say, having lost this weight twice before and gained it back, maintenance is in it's own way, every bit as challenging.
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Old 05-16-2013, 11:44 AM   #19
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Yes, maintenance is a different challenge altogether. I kept weight off for years with very low fat, low calorie eating and white-knuckled discipline (and flirtation off and on with disordered eating as a result.) So I'm painfully aware of the usual maintenance pitfalls. I'm hopeful that this new knowledge about carbohydrates and their effect on insulin, appetite and the rest have given me some new tools to make this work over the long term without being totally miserable. Fingers crossed!

And yes, doing this in a way that fits smoothly with your personal psychology, your lifestyle and your staying power is key, I think. Everyone needs to find their own groove.

Last edited by Rhubarb; 05-16-2013 at 11:48 AM..
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Old 05-16-2013, 03:53 PM   #20
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I wish you all the luck in the world, Rhubarb. We all have to eat every day, and for most of us we want more than just fuel out of it, we want enjoyment---and not so much w/the white knuckles. Much of my "allergic" reaction to being on a "diet" comes from too many miserable experiences on low fat and limited calories.

I really do believe that LC can offer us that. This is the reason why for me, I didn't do induction and strict Atkins this time. Did it last time, lost a lot of weight, but never bothered to learn how to make it work past being a "diet." I think it takes a lot of effort to begin with---searching out good LC recipes and finding a variety of foods you can be happy with that work w/this woe.

I can visualize myself choosing these things over the long haul because the plan I'm on isn't too restrictive for me and feels like a lifestyle, not a diet. I started my LC woe this time about where I think it will work for maintenance. Because I know for me, that even if I can knock the weight off faster w/a lower carb, lower calorie plan, that I will NOT stick to it, UNLESS, it becomes a natural choice.
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