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Old 01-13-2014, 11:05 PM   #1
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Ketosis or Calories

Which do you think is the key to weight loss with low carb - ketosis or low calories? I know I am always more successful when I low-carb because it helps me to stay off sweets (my downfall) and I end up eating much less. When I read all of the "what are you eating today?" threads it seems like people eat very little. I know ketosis is what makes me eat less, but is its magic mostly that or something else. I find it hard to believe when people say they eat low calorie and still can't lose unless they are in ketosis. I get the YMMV, I just want to hear your thoughts and experience with it.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:50 PM   #2
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I don't count calories, and I've been in ketosis continuously for over a year. Some days I don't eat a lot, some days I eat quite a bit. I don't notice a correlation between calories consumed and my weight loss. My calories average somewhere around 1800-2000.

I prefer to be in ketosis for many reasons, including the fat burning benefits, but also the health benefits overall. Because of that, I keep my carbs very low all the time.

This works for me. Others feel better able to stay on plan when they eat more carbs and count calories. Whatever you can do long-term is what I recommend.
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Old 01-14-2014, 05:27 AM   #3
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Counting calories as a method of weight loss is not an effective tool for me. When I have gone down that particular rabbit hole, it has only ever backfired on many levels.
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Old 01-14-2014, 05:54 AM   #4
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Ketosis helps burn body fat--IF the person is eating at a caloric deficit. The body only uses its own fat for fuel when it doesn't get enough fuel from the food eaten.

Dr. Atkins speculated that the appetite-suppressing effects of ketosis would help people to naturally eat less, creating the caloric deficit that enables weight loss. That seems to work for most people.

However, after a lifetime of morbid obesity, I found that ketosis helped me control my constant hunger but didn't really limit my eating sufficiently (I seem to have no 'off' switch). So I lost my weight via counting both carbs and calories.

Three plus years into maintenance, I still count carbs and calories--which is as natural to me now as brushing my teeth--i.e., just another activity to help maintain my body.
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Old 01-14-2014, 06:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo41 View Post
Ketosis helps burn body fat--IF the person is eating at a caloric deficit. The body only uses its own fat for fuel when it doesn't get enough fuel from the food eaten.

Dr. Atkins speculated that the appetite-suppressing effects of ketosis would help people to naturally eat less, creating the caloric deficit that enables weight loss. That seems to work for most people.

However, after a lifetime of morbid obesity, I found that ketosis helped me control my constant hunger but didn't really limit my eating sufficiently (I seem to have no 'off' switch). So I lost my weight via counting both carbs and calories.

Three plus years into maintenance, I still count carbs and calories--which is as natural to me now as brushing my teeth--i.e., just another activity to help maintain my body.


This is how it works for me. When I was 300 lbs. I didn't have to count anything, I just ate low carb and the pounds came off. But now that I weigh less, if I eat as much as I want (as I did over the holidays), even if it is low carb (which it always is for me) and I am in ketosis, I will not lose weight. I won't gain, necessarily, but I won't lose. Now that I am using my tracker again and keeping my calories at around 1400 per day the weight is coming off again.

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Old 01-14-2014, 07:17 AM   #6
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I wonder what macro nutrient gets cut when trying to reduce overall calories? This is an honest question and I am not trying to further the calories vs. ketosis argument. I am assuming ketosis is the state.
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo41 View Post
Ketosis helps burn body fat--IF the person is eating at a caloric deficit. The body only uses its own fat for fuel when it doesn't get enough fuel from the food eaten.

Dr. Atkins speculated that the appetite-suppressing effects of ketosis would help people to naturally eat less, creating the caloric deficit that enables weight loss. That seems to work for most people.

However, after a lifetime of morbid obesity, I found that ketosis helped me control my constant hunger but didn't really limit my eating sufficiently (I seem to have no 'off' switch). So I lost my weight via counting both carbs and calories.

Three plus years into maintenance, I still count carbs and calories--which is as natural to me now as brushing my teeth--i.e., just another activity to help maintain my body.
^^^ Excellent response.

I track everything everyday and am SHOCKED when my calories barely hit 1,000. This is not on purpose either! Many days..I am just not very hungry.
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:52 AM   #8
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I focus on getting sufficient protein to meet my basic needs in order to maintain lean body mass and not lose muscle. In terms of what 'macro' I sacrifice to stay within my calorie limits, carbs is the obvious one, but the next is fat. I think Dr. Atkins (and currently Phinney & Volek) say that if a person is in ketosis and not losing, the individual should reduce fat intake to create the caloric deficit necessary for weight loss.

Dr. A estimated that someone limiting carbs and eating sufficient protein and NOT avoiding fat, would 'naturally' consume about 65% fat, which is sufficient to support low-carb eating. I'm not talking 'low fat' at all. The problem is when people think they can enjoy low-carb desserts and fat bombs on a daily basis.

MOST people who eat low carb rarely have to 'sacrifice' any macro to create a caloric deficit [reducing carbs is sufficient], unless, like me, they have metabolic issues (I have several) that necessitate very low calorie intake. However, since I'm meeting my body's needs, my low intake is 'normal' for me.
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:57 AM   #9
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If I needed to cut calories, I would make sure I got my protein in, and then eat the rest. Protein is key.
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Old 01-14-2014, 08:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo41 View Post
Ketosis helps burn body fat--IF the person is eating at a caloric deficit. The body only uses its own fat for fuel when it doesn't get enough fuel from the food eaten.

Dr. Atkins speculated that the appetite-suppressing effects of ketosis would help people to naturally eat less, creating the caloric deficit that enables weight loss. That seems to work for most people.

However, after a lifetime of morbid obesity, I found that ketosis helped me control my constant hunger but didn't really limit my eating sufficiently (I seem to have no 'off' switch). So I lost my weight via counting both carbs and calories.

Three plus years into maintenance, I still count carbs and calories--which is as natural to me now as brushing my teeth--i.e., just another activity to help maintain my body.


I count both and always have, largely for these reasons. It's not a zero sum proposition in my opinion.

Though I got a lot better about weighing and measuring every single thing a few months after starting.
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Old 01-14-2014, 08:10 AM   #11
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Loving reading through the posts on how you guys are managing low carb and weight control. They are so informative we all have different struggles.
Interesting feedback to o/p's question. I am so off counting calories at the moment. Restriction always leads to mental stress and binging. Really trying to notice how my body reacts to certain foods. I definitely should eat low carb as that suits my metabolism and stops the low blood sugar which is never far away! Have been trying to cut protein a bit but not continuing with that for now as old bad habits were starting again. Thinking I need to watch caffeine in tea as well, and also have my veg later on in the day.
Don't think I am in ketosis but experimenting on just how satisfying and sustainable I can make my low carb woe. What is keeping me out of keto is probably veg and mascarpone but at the moment I am not prepared to give these up but am limiting them.
In answer to your question I am with the ketosis low carb lobby.
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:15 AM   #12
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I actually think that many people on low carb need to cut calories. I think that's a huge culprit in people stalling out while they are still overweight. And, dr. A always said that if you are counting your carbs and not cheating then look at your calories.


I count both and how I do it is - get my protein in since that's essential, then lots of vegetables, and round out menu with fat. I'm not scared of fat but I also don't see it as something that we need to eat a ton of, it's much less important in my eyes than vegetables and especially protein. I can also overeat fat very easily- like if I had one of the coffees popular on this board with lots of hwc- wouldn't do anything for my hunger, I'd be starving in an hour after getting 600 calories in my coffee. So I can eat eggs, vegetables, and bacon (I like it crispy and drain off the excess before I make my eggs because I hate greasy foods) in the am, then big salad with 2 tbs of evoo and lots of vegetables and salmon for dinner for my second meal .
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:56 AM   #13
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That's a very appropriate post for where I am nolcjunk! Listening to my body is also making me think I will try to cut the fat a bit (still much higher than my low cal days) and increase the protein, cooking in coconut oil and butter can get a bit heavy! Maybe trying this will naturally cut some calories! I have also tried the BPC and find it does not satisfy, might be my need to chew!! Be interesting to see how the change in fat/protein ratios work.
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Old 01-14-2014, 11:03 AM   #14
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That's a very appropriate post for where I am nolcjunk! Listening to my body is also making me think I will try to cut the fat a bit (still much higher than my low cal days) and increase the protein, cooking in coconut oil and butter can get a bit heavy! Maybe trying this will naturally cut some calories! I have also tried the BPC and find it does not satisfy, might be my need to chew!! Be interesting to see how the change in fat/protein ratios work.
I found over time that I can use much less fat than I think I need without sacrificing flavor or fullness. Like for my salads, I would use 4 tbs if I could because I love love extra virgin olive oil mixed with fresh lemon juice, but really that is way too much and 2 tbs is enough, and I don't see a difference in hunger or taste.

Bacon- I cook it until crispy and then pour off the excess fat and save it for cooking other things. You only need a very thin layer of that bacon grease to cook on cast iron or almost none if you use ceramic or nonstick.

Small changes like that can save hundreds of calories without you really noticing them,
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Old 01-14-2014, 12:00 PM   #15
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Very interesting thread. I don't count calories. It just seems like to much for me. I always thought it was protein, fat, then carbs. Being in ketosis is supposed to help burn a few more calories, plus other benefits. Hmm.... Something to think about and consider.
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Old 01-14-2014, 02:56 PM   #16
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Dr. Phinney does say to reduce fat if carbs and protein are in the right range and weight loss is not happening. He also says that anything below 1200 calories is far too low for any female. In fact in one interview, he sounded pretty aghast that anyone would eat under that amount of food.

It appears that many people can eat well, not struggle with hunger and be in ketosis and lose body fat. The key is to be in ketosis. It is a state that we all at least visit daily (or should I say, nightly) during sleep. It is part of the reason we don't wake at intervals during the night to hunger.

Getting in and staying in ketosis is very difficult without enough dietary fat (at least that is true for me). It seems logical as well. If the concerted effort is to control for calories, fat would be the first to get cut. Then hunger kicks in. Eventually that gap will get filled with the less calorie dense carbs and protein.guess what happens then? Yes, ketosis gets broken.... The struggle ensues.

As I have quoted in my signature, Dr. Peter Attia says very clearly, that calories matter but they are less important than the metabobolic effect of the particular foods on an individual's body. For many (if not all of us who have excess weight) that means we have deranged metabolisms and we need to pay more attention to the types of foods first, the actual grams of those foods second and the calories as a potential third.

And in my opinion, getting ketosis adapted and staying in that state is the best tool to do those things.
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Old 01-14-2014, 03:03 PM   #17
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And in my opinion, getting ketosis adapted and staying in that state is the best tool to do those things.
IMO as well.
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Old 01-14-2014, 03:31 PM   #18
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This just goes to show how different we all are!

It's protein that is filling for me, not fat. In fact, I've been far more successful with a Stillman-type approach (mainly lean protein). I always eat a high-protein breakfast, and that is my main meal of the day. In fact, years ago when I was struggling to lose, I tried the Atkins fat fast, and I was starving on 90% fat and could not sustain it.

While I am certainly not 'typical,'my 'maintenance' level is just 1,100 cal--but I'm 72, hypothyroid, and also have what my endo calls a 'genetically slow metabolism.' Both my endo and my primary doctor see no problem with my eating about 1,000 cal a day on a regular basis, and I value the advice of physicians who actually have examined me and seen my lab work rather than a physician who writes about women in general.

I've never been healthier; my labs are superb, and the only Rx I take are my thyroid hormones. I'm checked every 4 months, so it is apparent to me and my doctors that my WOE works for me.
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:08 PM   #19
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What 'works' for one person can be quite different than what 'works' for others. The definition of 'working' can also be quite different. Really depends on what a person's goals are and what is personally sustainable.

Lean protein for me was a stall maker and a killer in terms of sustainability. Low fat and calorie counting is the exact reason I became so metabolically deranged. Kicking those efforts to the curb is the best thing I ever did for my overall health. My labs and health markers are all excellent.
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:36 PM   #20
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Like most things in life, I'm finding it's not ketosis or calories, either/or, but rather somewhere in-between where we all must find out own rung.

There are so many factors that go into this. In Ketosis you generally have less cravings for carbs, but that may not stop you from overeating Low carb, if volume eating and portion control is something you've struggled with. Fat is sating for some, not as much for others, more sating on some days than others.

Generally, I think that the more you weigh, the less you have to worry about calories if you are eating very low carb. You will continue to lose.

But as you drop significant weight, you simply burn less calories just by being. And sometimes, folks naturally alter what they eat accordingly on LC, or on any woe. And sometimes, even on LC, we get used to eating more than our new lower weight can sustain and still lose.

For me, the real balance is about what I can maintain. No use losing it if I can't keep it off. It's a tricky balance, and one that takes time and effort to grow into the habit of.
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:59 AM   #21
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To be honest, I never paid attention to the whole 'ketosis' thing. I watch calories and carbs and most likely will the rest of my life since it seems as if 1600 calories is my top limit for maintaining my current weight. Above that and I start to see the scale inch up.
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Old 01-15-2014, 09:12 AM   #22
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I was just going to post about this exact thing today; I'm back on the wagon again after falling off a few months ago and gaining 20 more pounds. I don't think that I was successful with my last attempt because I wasn't paying attention to calories, just carbs. And like others, my metabolism is in the toilet. Thanks for all the good perspectives!
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Old 01-15-2014, 09:16 AM   #23
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JennyP, please forgive me in advance if this seems like a dumb question but I wonder what made your last attempt unsuccessful? Was it falling off the wagon or a lack of weight loss, or maybe something else?
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Old 01-16-2014, 06:55 AM   #24
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Clackley, I think it was a combination of things, but mostly not enough commitment. My life got very stressful and I gave up planning. Too much alcohol for coping.
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Old 01-16-2014, 07:19 AM   #25
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Stress can be a really difficult thing to cope with. It certainly can do a number on a variety of things. For me, understanding the very intimate connection to my appetite and stress level - making that connection has been very useful.

But to the connection between carbs or calories, it seems that your lack of 'success' was not really either of the two or both. The reason I even comment is that I often would get the 2 confused and start sabotaging myself by restricting things when I probably didn't need to. That is the really great thing about low carbing. It is not about calorie counting but about carb counting. Being fastidious about the carbs is almost always going to bring some level of success in my observations.

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Old 01-17-2014, 11:27 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Leo41 View Post
Ketosis helps burn body fat--IF the person is eating at a caloric deficit. The body only uses its own fat for fuel when it doesn't get enough fuel from the food eaten.

Dr. Atkins speculated that the appetite-suppressing effects of ketosis would help people to naturally eat less, creating the caloric deficit that enables weight loss. That seems to work for most people.

However, after a lifetime of morbid obesity, I found that ketosis helped me control my constant hunger but didn't really limit my eating sufficiently (I seem to have no 'off' switch). So I lost my weight via counting both carbs and calories.

Three plus years into maintenance, I still count carbs and calories--which is as natural to me now as brushing my teeth--i.e., just another activity to help maintain my body.
This is so me. I have to watch both carbs and calories. And, don't have an off switch, don't think I was born with one.

And, even when in Ketosis it does not take away my appetite completely.
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Old 01-17-2014, 12:22 PM   #27
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This is so me. I have to watch both carbs and calories. And, don't have an off switch, don't think I was born with one.

And, even when in Ketosis it does not take away my appetite completely.
Ketosis does not take away appetite completely for anyone over time. It puts a damper on it and we learn to feel hunger without urgency. Hunger is the appetizer of normal eating. The issue for some of us is that without ketosis, hunger becomes unmanageable.

Just saying.....
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Old 01-17-2014, 04:21 PM   #28
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I did not count calories while losing from 218 to 156 (2009-2010). But I was very busy (happy busy) at that time in my life so I think I was often distracted from eating because of ketosis.
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Old 01-19-2014, 06:39 AM   #29
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My personal opinion is that eating low carb works in two ways.

First it helps you to burn calories more efficiently allowing you to consume more calories than you normally would be able to if you didn't watch your carbs.

Second, it is more filling and you tend to naturally eat less. It is easy for me to overeat and get that stufed miserable feeling when eating carby food. I never get that stuffed miserable feeling when low carbing.

I don't really know how many calories I eat a day. My guess would be around 1500.
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Old 01-19-2014, 08:33 AM   #30
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I'm the OP and I just wanted to thank you all for your thoughtful responses. This is exactly the information I was looking for. One reason behind my question is that I am trying to figure out if I can be successful if I add higher carb foods as long as they don't increase my appetite or my ability to avoid sweets/junk. I don't care for a lot of different veggies, don't like nuts and am generally pretty picky of an eater so I need to add variety in other ways. I'd like to add a serving of fruit in the evenings (primarily berries or cantaloupe). It sounds like the general consensus is what Ocean said last. Ketosis not only reduces appetite/calorie intake, it also burns calories more efficiently to help the weight come off faster and enables us to eat more calories than we can on a regular low cal/low fat plan and still lose weight.
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