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Old 10-19-2014, 05:46 AM   #1
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For those who also count calories

Often on this board I read of posters stating they have to also "watch" their calories. I'm curious about what exactly that means. I suspect that it mostly means lowering fat, but why not just lower fat grams? Why use "calories" as a source of measuring? Is it just ingrained to do so?

For me, I only use calories to calculate my macros. If I tweak my daily food totals, I play with the individual macro grams.
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Old 10-19-2014, 06:04 AM   #2
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I log daily but check periodically since i am now closer to goal and learning portion control.
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Old 10-19-2014, 06:10 AM   #3
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Thank you for your reply. So you check calories to keep you in check? If your calories are too high, what do you reduce?
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Old 10-19-2014, 06:19 AM   #4
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This is one of my pet peeves - calorie counting. It seems to be so ingrained that people who know very well that it is about the type of food eaten that matters, still insist on reverting to a system that is so flawed.

And then there is the advice that comes from people who are very knowledgeable and versed in low carb who still use the calorie models to some degree. Is is because they feel that the average person still needs to use that guideline?????

All that said and I will admit that I am always well aware of my calorie intake. Mostly because of my food tracker insists on putting it first.
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Old 10-19-2014, 06:24 AM   #5
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I'm with you Cathy, it is mind boggling to me why low carbers (more specifically NKers) still use calories as a form of dietary measurement.
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Old 10-19-2014, 06:35 AM   #6
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Yes, agreed. If you consider that someone who is calorie counting (n.k.er or not .. not even low carb necessarily), decides to cut their calorie intake, do they consider that they are also cutting carbs, protein and or fat???!

The other problem as I see it with calorie counting is that the most likely macro to get reduced is fat as it has 9 calories compared with 4 for carbs or protein. Yet fat in isolation has little to no ability to get stored as fat. The irony .....
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Old 10-19-2014, 06:50 AM   #7
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I log everything I eat but I do not reduce my fat intake .....it never drops below 75% of my daily total
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Old 10-19-2014, 07:58 AM   #8
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There is a mindset that says just count calories & eat what you want; I tend to think those who believe only calories matter are young people who will eventually age & learn the truth. I don't think there are many/any who think that way on this forum.

Calories DO count. However, many other things count, too. Regardless of what we call it most of us count calories one way or another. If you count carbs only or use macros or watch portion sizes, use Weight Watcher points, etc. you are also counting calories.

I refigure calories & macros using the ankerl keto-calculator once a month after taking my measurements. I use it as a guideline & use the recommended high/low range for protein. I don't concern myself with hitting specific numbers (not calories, not fat grams, not protein grams, not carbs) as long as I am in the healthy range. My calories vary and may include a few low days as well as a few high days once in a while.

I started tracking my food a few years ago because I have a tendency to undereat & I knew that was not healthy. I still I track my food every day. Why? I want a record of my food so I know exactly what I was eating when. When what? When I was losing so well or when I wasn't. I like being able to check patterns. It tells me what works & what doesn't. I also track my sleep, water intake (water, not other zero calorie beverages like coffee), and exercise. All figure into the equation. I can't imagine not tracking things & then trying to remember what I was doing when I was getting the best results or what I was eating when my loses slowed. I want as much info as possible at my fingertips.

"Watching" everything has been a big part of my success & I expect it to continue to be part of my success once I move to maintenance.
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Old 10-19-2014, 11:11 AM   #9
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Well Deb I disagree in concept on a few things and I don't think it's just semantics......

What we EAT counts, not calories. Calories are just one method to calculate food consumption. I think the majority of people use calories as a means of tracking because it is so ingrained in our society. It's kind of like the metric system, I remember as a kid being told that by X date everything would change to metric for us in the states. Well obviously that didn't happen (as to why - is another thread ) but lo and behold, we are still able to measure things.

And you may not strive to hit certain numbers, but I do and I'm sure so do many others. And I disagree that if you count carbs, macros, points, whatever that you therefore count calories. I count individual grams of carbs, protein and fats. If I need to make adjustments to my diet, I look at these numbers individually. The only importance of calories is too calculate percentages. And even then, once you know your range for each of the macro grams, you really don't need to know calorie totals anymore.

So my original question for this thread is.......for those that "watch" calories in addition to eating low carb/NK/Atkins, etc. what does that mean? Is it about portions and quantities? Low fat? What?
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Old 10-19-2014, 12:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grneyedldy View Post
So my original question for this thread is.......for those that "watch" calories in addition to eating low carb/NK/Atkins, etc. what does that mean? Is it about portions and quantities? Low fat? What?
For me there are certain foods that should be ok, that I will eat way too much of (almost compulsively) sometimes. Nut butters and olive oil are my primary "danger foods." I could, in theory, consume huge amounts of olive oil- I use it to roast veggies- and stay low carb. But when I go overboard it's reflected on the scale.

So, I will either guestimate a certain # of calories of whatever food is causing me problems, or weigh out servings, limit myself to that each day and the scale always goes back down.

It is a legitimate question, if a person even can get fat if they eat strictly low carb. Nina Tiecholz discusses this briefly in an interesting interview that was published a while ago. An excerpt:

Another idea is that a diet cannot fatten as long as carbohydrates are kept low, because only the carbohydrates trigger insulin. In the experiment that physician Alfred Pennington conducted, which I include in my book, 20 male executives reportedly ate 3000 calories a day but lost weight. Nearly all the trials on the Atkins diet over the past decade make no attempt to restrict calories at all, and people generally lose more weight than on low-fat, calorie restricted diets. Trials are going on now to try to pin this down more conclusively.


Just anecdotally, I will gain weight if I don't watch portion sizes of my "craving" foods but have never been overweight from it. And I know people who eat tremendous # of calories from nuts and while they are on the higher end of normal they are not overweight. So it's an interesting question,
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Old 10-19-2014, 01:30 PM   #11
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I am definitely a calorie watcher in addition to carbs, protein. Leo41 talks about this subject and makes very good sense to me because I am like her. If I didn't put a cap on my calories and just eat until I'm satisfied....that would never happen. I would just keep eating more and more fat. I have tried it before and not tracking calories just doesn't work for me. I have to have a place to stop or I just keep going. I still eat HF/MP/LC though. Calorie counting does not equate to low fat. I have set grams for carbs and protein and then fill in with fat up to 1700 calories.
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Old 10-19-2014, 01:37 PM   #12
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Cfine from what you are saying is that you DO have a cap on fats, but instead of saying my fat grams will be 120 grams a day, you are measuring calories instead. If fat is the only area you "watch", why not just track your macro grams? Don't you think it's mostly because you've always used calories as way to measure?

eta: I never said counting calories means low fat. I hope no one thinks that I was implying that.

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Old 10-19-2014, 01:37 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by cfine View Post
I am definitely a calorie watcher in addition to carbs, protein. Leo41 talks about this subject and makes very good sense to me because I am like her. If I didn't put a cap on my calories and just eat until I'm satisfied....that would never happen. I would just keep eating more and more fat. I have tried it before and not tracking calories just doesn't work for me. I have to have a place to stop or I just keep going. I still eat HF/MP/LC though. Calorie counting does not equate to low fat. I have set grams for carbs and protein and then fill in with fat up to 1700 calories.

Agreed
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Old 10-19-2014, 01:49 PM   #14
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Well Deb I disagree in concept on a few things and I don't think it's just semantics......

What we EAT counts, not calories. Calories are just one method to calculate food consumption. I think the majority of people use calories as a means of tracking because it is so ingrained in our society. It's kind of like the metric system, I remember as a kid being told that by X date everything would change to metric for us in the states. Well obviously that didn't happen (as to why - is another thread ) but lo and behold, we are still able to measure things.

And you may not strive to hit certain numbers, but I do and I'm sure so do many others. And I disagree that if you count carbs, macros, points, whatever that you therefore count calories. I count individual grams of carbs, protein and fats. If I need to make adjustments to my diet, I look at these numbers individually. The only importance of calories is too calculate percentages. And even then, once you know your range for each of the macro grams, you really don't need to know calorie totals anymore.

So my original question for this thread is.......for those that "watch" calories in addition to eating low carb/NK/Atkins, etc. what does that mean? Is it about portions and quantities? Low fat? What?
I count and add every single think I eat and drink, I actually enjoy the process of weighing, measuring and entering it into a log and I do this for a number of reasons. Initially it opened my eyes to exactly how and what of each macro I was actually consuming. It also helps to keep me from snacking just out of boredom. I know withing a few hundred calories and within a few percentage points for each macro how much I can eat and never gain a pound or lose some if I feel like I need to. Cutting back on fat seems to defeat the purpose of Low Carb / High Fat way of eating in my opinion. I have found that eating approx 105 to 135 grams of healthy fats like ghee, grass fed butter, MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil, mayo heavy cream results in me feeling great, tons of energy, good sleep, no gas, no digestion problems and I will not gain a single pound but this formula only works if I keep my carbs below 50grams (usually hit 30) and my protein intake can vary quite a bit and depends on how much energy I'm spending on cardio and or weight training. I start everyday with BPC and don't eat my first meal till around 1:00 to 2:00 and I try to hit around 300 cals per meal .....some days I eat 3 meals some days 2 larger meals. No idea if this answers your questions or not but I hope it helps a little
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Old 10-19-2014, 03:51 PM   #15
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I log 1350 calories a day and still get 75% fat and sometimes higher...so I do not have a problem watching my calories and getting in my macros
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Old 10-19-2014, 04:48 PM   #16
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I'd love to be able to eat unlimited fat & not gain weight but that is not my reality. If I eat huge amounts of anything I gain - or at the very least, stop losing. In my life it all counts.
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Old 10-19-2014, 05:01 PM   #17
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I think it all counts too. I count everything. I just don't count calories.
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Old 10-19-2014, 05:50 PM   #18
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This topic has come up a few times in the months since I've been a member of this forum. The first time or two I watched the thread with baited breath waiting for an answer to be revealed about which was the correct way to do NK. Never happened, though. People seemed to have success (and some struggles) with each approach.

In the end, I decided maybe it's a YMMV issue. Maybe mind over matter has something to do with it, or any other number of factors... Our bodies are so individual and complex, I'd hate to even hazard a guess!

So, I've continued as I began: planning my days' meals within my macros while watching calories, too. I began that way out of habit but have continued because I was getting good results and was reluctant to tweak what was working for me.

I'm not too, too strict about calorie counting. I do have hungry days, and on those I eat a tbsp of coconut oil before bed regardless of the calories. I don't particularly crave CO on it's own, which helps me know I'm eating out of hunger and not some other reason. Sometimes when I want an indulgent day I'll eat significantly more, but I still try to stop when I hit my maintenance kcal allotment (about 400 calories more than I consume on a typical day.)

I did experiment with cutting my caloric limit at one point (because I had less to lose at that point, so figured I should) and, like a lot of others have posted in the past, my loss stalled. So, I upped them to their previous level and my loss resumed. In fact, I eat about 1300 kcal/day now which is the exact same amount I was eating 50 lbs ago and I'm still losing, though slower.

Like Irish Troy, the analytical part of me kind of enjoys the tracking and calculating. I don't find it very difficult to eat within my macros AND stay within a set caloric range. The key is planning my meals in advance. Of course, life happens and I can't always stick to plans. When I do have to tweak things on the fly I consult my macros first before deciding what to cut from my remaining planned foods for the day. I will cut fat if that macro was especially high that day... I see no need to eat 85% fat unless I'm FFing. But, if protein or carbs seem high for the day, I cut there first. In reality, too, the foods I eat very rarely consist of just one macronutrient. So, if I cut something it usually effects at least two categories.

Anyway, I do believe NK can work without calorie counting. But, for me it's worked with calorie counting as well... Maybe that means I'm doing some sort of "modified" NK, but I'm okay with that.

This approach has really helped me to learn about portion control, too. But I am looking forward to becoming more attuned to my body's satiety cues when I eventually try to stop counting calories in maintenance.
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Old 10-20-2014, 04:53 AM   #19
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I apologize for not explaining myself well, but I think I got my answer anyway. This wasn't meant to be the old dreaded debate of counting calories versus carbs. I was just trying to understand "what" calories were so called "watched" while on a NK woe.

NK is different than basic lc because you are "watching" all three macros and not just counting carbs. So you already have a cap, so to speak on your daily limits. It's not a free for all on meat and fats. It's about finding the right combo and amounts of the macros to manage your weight, whether loss or maintenance to properly nourish your body and keep you in a constant state of ketosis.

What I was trying to understand is if someone was relying on calories as a measurement, were they slashing 100 calories across the board to reach their daily goals? Did it/does it matter to calorie counters where the calories come from?

From the replies on this thread, I'm understanding that when someone says they "watch" their calories, what they mean is they have a set amount of food allotted for their day and they use "calories" as their final measurement.
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Old 10-20-2014, 05:13 AM   #20
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When I'm in a position where I've planned too much food for the day and want to slash some calories, I look at my day's macros. I use a range for each macro, so I consider whichever macro is at the top of it's usual range or over it's cap. That's where I cut first. That may sometimes cause another macro to dip too low and then I may have to add something else back...

For instance if protein was too high, I might cut some cheese out of my plan. That might also cause fat to dip a bit low. So, I might add back a tsp of CO, fewer calories (depending on quantities,) but a good fat source with no protein.

Does that make sense?
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Old 10-20-2014, 05:16 AM   #21
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Yes Abuvia, I do that too when I plan my menu for the day. Sometimes it's as simple as using less mayo in my tuna salad and sometimes I swap out main dishes.
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Old 10-20-2014, 05:26 AM   #22
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Exactly!

I often find myself adjusting portion sizes of planned foods rather than deleting or swapping foods.
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Old 10-22-2014, 08:55 AM   #23
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I am a compulsive overeater, a glutton, whatever you want to call me.

Portion control (although much easier) has always been difficult for me. When I re-started this way of eating last June, I would look at the recipes and think that I could never eat such small amounts of protein, so eventually, I began to compensate with fatbombs and BPC. I read on this very forum the amount of calories that some of you consume daily and was so ashamed of the high calorie diet that I was eating. Additionally, Dr. Atkins and other experts said that even though we don't count calories, calories do count. There was much advice to eat to satiety. But until the very last few weeks, there was no feeling of satiety. So, after working in the Ankerl calculator, I put a ceiling of 1800 calories daily. And my daily eating has gone above that only twice since about July or August of this year. And my fat stays high. The big Frankenstein, protein, is much more moderate, now, and I'm so thankful. Even though this isn't a low carb diet, per se, I have a personal ceiling.
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Old 10-22-2014, 02:40 PM   #24
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If you have a goal for all the macros and count all three of them... then you don't really need to pay attention to the calories.
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Old 10-22-2014, 03:22 PM   #25
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What I was trying to understand is if someone was relying on calories as a measurement, were they slashing 100 calories across the board to reach their daily goals? Did it/does it matter to calorie counters where the calories come from?
Yes, it does matter where the calories come from. Eating too many carbs will trigger the insulin surges that can result in fat storage. Eating too much protein can do the same. So the focus is on limiting carbs and eating moderate protein, and the only real variable is your fat intake. The less fat you eat, the more your body will use its own stores to fill the energy deficit.

That said, eating to satiety should be your focus. If you're satiated with 1100 calories, rather than 1700, you will probably weight lose faster, but there will be other days when 1100 calories won't satisfy your needs. If you've gotten your protein in for the day at 1100 calories and are still hungry, by all means eat more fat. The hardest lesson for most of us is to listen what our bodies are saying, rather than forcing our bodies to conform to someone else's idea of what is healthy.
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Old 10-22-2014, 04:15 PM   #26
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I actually believe that calories in need to be less than calories out in order for weight loss to happen. Calories is simply a measure of energy, though. It is a physics equation. My thoughts are that what you eat matters because different foods impact the calorie burn in some way. Some foods rev the metabolism..and it differs by individuals. It is such an inexact science, that counting the calories isn't that effective as a weight loss tool because there is no way to accurately count because of all the underlying immeasurable factors, not to mention individual body chemistry.
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Old 10-22-2014, 05:00 PM   #27
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Calories tell us how much that nutrient raises the temperature of water. That is all.
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Old 10-22-2014, 06:38 PM   #28
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My macros are definitely not an issue. For today, my carbohydrate was 4%, fat was 82%, and protein was 14%.

But it's hard for me to understand the feeling of satiety because of the years of overeating--stuffing, so although I don't aim for a specific number of calories, I do have a ceiling just to stop the eating.
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Old 10-22-2014, 07:21 PM   #29
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I think the point of the thread is that you don't have to look at the calories when you have the macros in check. From the point of view of not overeating, having a ceiling for all the macros is enough. So the focus on calories or counting them is not needed.

Unless I got the OP wrong.
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Old 10-22-2014, 07:29 PM   #30
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I am a compulsive overeater, a glutton, whatever you want to call me.
Lazy Girl, I think you are too hard on yourself! I think you are a wonderful person with metabolic issues - a person who is working to correct those problems (which is something I think you should be super proud of!).

I do not have your problems - but I do remember a day, many years ago, when I kept eating and eating until I was hurting, and crying - didn't understand insulin surges, etc. - I can't imagine dealing with this every day! So I would consider you to be a strong, marvelous woman, never ever a "glutton, compulsive overwater"!!

Pat yourself on the back and start loving yourself!
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