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Old 07-12-2013, 05:04 PM   #1
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The low carb calorie advantage?

I have heard this mentioned several times here. The idea that you can eat more calories on a LC diet and still lose. I've heard the number quoted as "up to 300" but don't remember where.

So I'm just wondering what you guys have to say about this. I've lost 20 pounds and have needed to tweak my daily calories accordingly. I find daily calorie calculators highly suspect. I'm a 5' 11" tall woman and to lose a pound a week they want me on 1350 calories a day at my present weight. Which sometimes I do, naturally. Other times higher, but rarely over 1700 and usually between 1500 and 1600. I'm very consistent w/my carb allowance---20 to 30 carbs a day.

I have lost an average of a pound a week doing things as I was, which was with a 1500 -1800 a day range. That weight certainly did not come off weekly. There were stalls and bounces, but if you add up my loss it correlates with a pound a week since I began this woe.

So I guess what I want to know is how much would you tweak the calories having lost 20 pounds? And are you aware of the LC calorie advantage, does it exist, and why?

The calorie thing is my least fave, bad memories of hunger and deprivation on other diets. But I log my calories to keep me aware of what I 'm eating. And I know as you lose, you get less calories. I don't want to turn this into a calorie diet, but I do want to be aware.

What say y'all?
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:06 PM   #2
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I wouldn't tweak them at all if you are still losing to your satisfaction.
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:18 PM   #3
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I wouldn't tweak them either. You're losing, so keep doing what you're doing.


I do believe there is a metabolic advantage, but how much? I don't know. J don't worry about it. I hope I never have to think about it, but for now I simply keep doing what I'm doing, because it's working.

If the time comes when I clearly have to limit calories, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. You aren't there yet, either.
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:36 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by AnnetteW View Post
I wouldn't tweak them at all if you are still losing to your satisfaction.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntombi View Post
I wouldn't tweak them either. You're losing, so keep doing what you're doing.


I do believe there is a metabolic advantage, but how much? I don't know. J don't worry about it. I hope I never have to think about it, but for now I simply keep doing what I'm doing, because it's working.

If the time comes when I clearly have to limit calories, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. You aren't there yet, either.
Thanks guys. I think this is common sense, and I appreciate you both underlining my instincts. Like I said, I really DON'T want to get obsessed with calories. Been there done that. But as you both know, there's a lot more talk of calories on this board than there used to be. Not saying that's bad or good, and of course, it is a component of weight loss. But I'd like to believe that w/low carb, it is a much smaller slice of the pie. Not because of anything "magic" about LC and calories, but because of the satiety LC foods allow, BEFORE you overdo.

Ntombi, I was hoping you'd add in. if you don't have a firm answer on the "low calorie caloric advantage" then I'm not sure there is a firm answer, but perhaps someone else will chime in on this.
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:41 PM   #5
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Meant "low carb caloric advantage" in my last post.
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:42 PM   #6
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I agree; if it ain't broke don't fix it.

I've done so much research it is mind-boggling. What to do? What to do???

I finally decided just to keep doing what I'm doing and not worry about it. What I'm doing is working. If it stops working I'll change something.
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:48 PM   #7
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it's all for your metabolism. you can eat more than the calculators say? consider yourself very blessed. I can't eat half what they suggest. *sigh*
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:19 PM   #8
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I've done so much research it is mind-boggling. What to do? What to do???

I finally decided just to keep doing what I'm doing and not worry about it. What I'm doing is working. If it stops working I'll change something.
DiamondDeb---so you love to do your research too? I really identify w/that. When I have a goal, I make it a project including research and learning as much as I can, and I like that part of it. Except, boy oh boy, there sure is a lot of conflicting info out there! As you so well said "What to do!?"

Well, I really count on you guys. There's a lot of common sense and big heart on this site, and folks like you willing to chime in w/what they know, feel and think. Thanks for adding into the chorus of common sense here. You're all talking me down from my old ways of thinking that if you're too darn happy on your woe, you must need to cut something out!
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:22 PM   #9
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it's all for your metabolism. you can eat more than the calculators say? consider yourself very blessed. I can't eat half what they suggest. *sigh*
Thanks for the perspective, ravenrose.
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Old 07-13-2013, 05:34 AM   #10
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The only reason to lower calories would be if you are not losing--for a month or more. In order to lose, low carb or not, there must be a caloric deficit. When we're neither gaining nor losing, we are at a maintenance level in terms of calories.

As Ravenrose has pointed out, most calculators are useless. We are all unique in terms of our caloric needs, and the best way to determine your optimum level for loss is by monitoring yourself.

As far as the low-carb "advantage" is concerned, Dr. Michael Eades had a blog post on this some time ago. The only true scientific study of this (according to him) showed that the advantage varied by individual. Some people had no significant difference at all, others could lose more with fewer calories on low carb. However, the range of difference was 0-300 cal, and there were few people at that high end. The 'average' advantage was about 100 cal, something not worth considering if someone thinks he/she can 'eat more' because it's low carb.
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Old 07-13-2013, 05:48 AM   #11
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I'm a big fan of eating to satisfaction and choosing foods that keep you full.
The calories adjust on their own, but I do track them.

That eliminates the need to worry about calorie intake. When I first started this time with LC, I was eating to satisfaction and ate near maintanence calories for the first couple days. Then it dropped off to 200-300 cal deficit with eating to satisfaction. I'm in Week 7 now and I'm happy with 600 calorie deficit. But if I want to eat more some days, I will.
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:12 AM   #12
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Blue Skies,
I think it does work for some people...maybe those who are way over their ideal weight, are young, aren't insulin resistant, etc.

In my 20's and 30's I could eat around 2500+ calories and drop the weight quickly and I was a very sedentary person. My weight topped out at the time around 225 (ideal was 120). Once I hit my 40's that changed.

This time around I dropped 70 pounds in 3 months but I also topped out at 330 on my 5'3 small boned frame. Then it slowed. My last 35 pounds came off in about 2.5-3 months and I think only that quickly because I reversed my insulin resistance. Still...by that point I did have to keep my calories at about 1200 to do it.

Now I live on about 1400-1600 calories a day, depending on whether I feel like eating in the evenig...and I'm satisfied with that.

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Old 07-13-2013, 06:16 AM   #13
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I am still on a big learning curve, but it seems to me that it is impossible to generalize to everyone. I look to patterns (how my experience conforms to or diverges from experiences of others). From my reading here since the end of March it seems like there is a clear metabolic advantage to low carb, for some people. And it appears that for women of late middle age (count me in there) and for those nearer to goal weight it is more difficult to lose and calorie counting may well be in order. (I am sure there are exceptions, even here. And I know a lot of women my age who are not overweight.)

I am prepared to cut calores if necessary, but right now I feeling better physically and down a size, so I am going to keep working with what is working. I have only been weighing for three weeks, so I am not ready to say much about weight loss. I did show one three pound dip on the scale but am back to my first weigh number. If I don't see any change by end of August, I may adjust calories. I am making slow progress at better tracking. Meantime, I am just going to stick with my WOE. I am never hungry nor do I feel deprived. Some days I need more food or more sleep than other days. It will be interesting to see where I am at the end of August. I learn something new here nearly everyday, so I am going to keep absorbing and sifting info.

Last edited by Patience; 07-13-2013 at 06:23 AM..
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:23 AM   #14
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I believe it was Dr. Mike Eades (Protein Power) who first wrote about this. I can't remember if it was in one of his books or a blog. And 300 calories is what he came up with.
My experience is this is true up to a point, but the "advantage" is definitely affected by age and metabolism. In my 40's, on a typical low calorie, low fat, high carb diet I had to take my calories below 1200 to lose anything, and that was very slow -- I lost better when calories were below 1000 but I had to take diet pills to help with hunger. When I discovered Protein Power, I lost well with 1400-1500 calories staying below 30 ECC. Now that I am 20 years older and diabetic, all bets are off. Standard low carb (below 40 ECC) no longer does it for me, but it is a great maintenance diet.
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:26 AM   #15
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Good point about where we are in our lives impacting caloric stuff.
Westman says we need 100 cal less per day for each decade we age.
So even if there is a metabolic advantage to low-carb eating, you have to factor in your reduction in needed calories as we age.

And again, it goes back to eating to satisfy from well-crafted food choices.
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:34 AM   #16
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What I'm finding as I go is that I naturally eat LESS because my appetite isn't always in overdrive. I think the calories NATUALLY go down for me.....I don't count them. too many years of doing that, I balk.
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:51 AM   #17
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I'm not sure how much of it is "metabolic advantage" and how much is because of the type of food we eat. I couldn't lose much weight 20 years ago eating low-fat, 1000 calories per day. Now I'm 20 years older and can lose weight eating much higher calories as long as I eat low-carb.
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Old 07-13-2013, 01:35 PM   #18
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Thanks everyone. I knew I'd heard it somewhere, and it seems it was Dr. Eades. I wouldn't take this to the weight loss bank and try to cash it though.
As everyone has pointed out, too many individual factors involved. However it is true for me too that on low fat diets 1200 was pretty much the limit for loss, and on my LC woe an average of 1500 seems to work for now, even at my age. And that just happens to be a 300 calorie difference. Of course I'm not losing fast, but a pound a week over the long haul is just fine and very comfortable for me. The idea that I could be 52 pounds lighter a year from when I started is well, quite delicious to me. Particularly since I'm a pretty happy camper as things are, not feeling deprived or hungry and enjoying my LC foods, for the most part.

But this thread has been very helpful to me. It seems the consensus is to not fool around w/what's working. And since I just had a 3 pound whoosh, I'd say it's still working.

I do find my calories are often self limiting, usually around 1500 -1600, sometimes less. However, it's easy to get up and over some days before you know it. For instance, I love Jimmy John's Italian Night Club Unwich, so easy and delish. But it's almost 700 calories. When that's lunch, it doesn't leave so much for the rest of the day, so I try to plan for it when I'm having something light like salmon for dinner. The meats do add up!

Still, I hate the calorie thing and want to be as free of it as possible w/out being unaware of it. So I'll keep logging, and keep on keepin' on w/my plan as is, for now.
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:35 PM   #19
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I know Atkins also talks about a caloric advantage in his 1992 edition. I left my copy at work so I can't check if he specifies a number, but I seem to recall that his explanation was that it takes the body more energy to metabolize fat than carbs. So in a sense ketosis itself creates a caloric deficit that it is not there when you're burning carbs.

As for myself, I am very much a qualitative rather than quantitative person. I don't count carb grams and I don't count calories. I just eat foods from the Atkins acceptable lists in roughly the amounts given. I have little "stalls" every 10 pounds where I might bump up and down for a couple of weeks, but eventally the weight starts coming off and has steadily.

My rate of loss has been about a pound a week. And yes, Blue Skies, while a year might seem like forever, I was very happy to be down 50 pounds at the end of it.
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Old 07-13-2013, 07:42 PM   #20
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I am not a LCer but I have read numerous times that protein consumes 1/3 of it's own calories during it's breakdown and digestion, carbs do to a much lesser degree and fat consumes no calories in it's breakdown. I find that for me, I get my most bang for my buck with a higher protein, lower fat (30-35%) diet. My protein intake is about 120 grams a day (nutritional value, not weight). I can definitely say I get an advantage with this.
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:08 PM   #21
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I am not a LCer but I have read numerous times that protein consumes 1/3 of it's own calories during it's breakdown and digestion, carbs do to a much lesser degree and fat consumes no calories in it's breakdown. I find that for me, I get my most bang for my buck with a higher protein, lower fat (30-35%) diet. My protein intake is about 120 grams a day (nutritional value, not weight). I can definitely say I get an advantage with this.
I haven't tracked everything all along, but my impression is that I work just the opposite. It wasn't until I started concentrating on eating more fat and less protein that I was able to start losing. I think part of that might have been that you just can't eat all that much fat, it's not palatable enough. And part of it is that the protein is not being converted to glucose and knocking me out of ketosis. I'm eating under 50 g of protein most days.
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:25 PM   #22
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Quote:
The only reason to lower calories would be if you are not losing--for a month or more. In order to lose, low carb or not, there must be a caloric deficit. When we're neither gaining nor losing, we are at a maintenance level in terms of calories.

As Ravenrose has pointed out, most calculators are useless. We are all unique in terms of our caloric needs, and the best way to determine your optimum level for loss is by monitoring yourself.

As far as the low-carb "advantage" is concerned, Dr. Michael Eades had a blog post on this some time ago. The only true scientific study of this (according to him) showed that the advantage varied by individual. Some people had no significant difference at all, others could lose more with fewer calories on low carb. However, the range of difference was 0-300 cal, and there were few people at that high end. The 'average' advantage was about 100 cal, something not worth considering if someone thinks he/she can 'eat more' because it's low carb.
I agree with Leo.
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Old 07-13-2013, 09:03 PM   #23
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I haven't tracked everything all along, but my impression is that I work just the opposite. It wasn't until I started concentrating on eating more fat and less protein that I was able to start losing. I think part of that might have been that you just can't eat all that much fat, it's not palatable enough. And part of it is that the protein is not being converted to glucose and knocking me out of ketosis. I'm eating under 50 g of protein most days.
And that is very true about excess protein!
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Old 07-14-2013, 04:55 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CindyCRNA View Post
I am not a LCer but I have read numerous times that protein consumes 1/3 of it's own calories during it's breakdown and digestion, carbs do to a much lesser degree and fat consumes no calories in it's breakdown. I find that for me, I get my most bang for my buck with a higher protein, lower fat (30-35%) diet. My protein intake is about 120 grams a day (nutritional value, not weight). I can definitely say I get an advantage with this.
I think you are correct for those who follow a lower fat plan, but I'm not sure about the figures for breaking down/'wasting' dietary protein and carbs. The trick is to get the nutrients in balance. I would suggest that it is possible to go too high on protein on a lower fat moderate carb plan.

Quote:
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I haven't tracked everything all along, but my impression is that I work just the opposite. It wasn't until I started concentrating on eating more fat and less protein that I was able to start losing. I think part of that might have been that you just can't eat all that much fat, it's not palatable enough. And part of it is that the protein is not being converted to glucose and knocking me out of ketosis. I'm eating under 50 g of protein most days.
I think you are correct for a high fat/moderate protein/low carb plan.

I think some of us can do something closer to a standard diet and some of us can't.
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Old 07-14-2013, 09:46 AM   #25
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I think part of that might have been that you just can't eat all that much fat, it's not palatable enough. And part of it is that the protein is not being converted to glucose and knocking me out of ketosis. I'm eating under 50 g of protein most days.
This is me. The protein seems to be more harmful due to my diabetes, and while I cook with fat and add it to my salads, I'm not slathering it on, nor could I handle adding it to my coffee 'just because'.
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Old 07-14-2013, 10:23 AM   #26
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My carbs are low but I have to get plenty of protein. High fat & low protein leaves me starving.
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Old 07-14-2013, 10:27 AM   #27
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Dr. Peter Attia does a very interesting talk on the subject the role of fat in weight loss and his personal experiences. He addresses the issue of calories and I found that to be very revealing.

It is a 3 part series found on youtube and the first 2 are the bulk of the message. 3rd part is mostly question and answers. Really worth the under an hour's worth of time!!
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Old 07-15-2013, 10:17 AM   #28
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Cathy,

Thanks for mentioning Peter Attia. I'm now reading and enjoying his writings.
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Old 07-15-2013, 11:33 AM   #29
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My pleasure! He is not only brilliant but a pretty darn good writer!
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Old 07-15-2013, 12:38 PM   #30
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OK, I re-read the section in Atkins 1992 and now I remember why I never worry about calories.

My memory was correct; Atkins believed it was due to fat mobilization in the body, specifically what he called fat-mobilizing substance (FMS). Apparently what it does is enable you to "sneak out some unused calories from your body that you wouldn't be able to remove so easily on a low-fat diet." This is proven by the analysis of carbon excreted in the urine and feces of mice (ketone bodies, and citric, lactic, and pyruvic acids).

This FMS substance might have a name by now, like I said this is from the 1992 edition.

At any rate, the original question was what was the advantage. According to Atkins, it can be as much as 950 calories a day or more.

He does an analysis of one of his patients in which he concludes a 1999-calorie-a-day metabolic advantage.

In any event, re-reading this reminded me why I discarded calorie counting altogether. Reading Atkins convinced me the whole issue is more complex than calories-in/calories-out. So I pretty much tossed calorie theory in favor of simply restricting my carbohydrates and being "shockingly unafraid of fat," as Atkins suggested. It's worked for me.
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