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The Day I Quit Counting Calories

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  • The Day I Quit Counting Calories

    On March 3, 2014, I stopped counting calories.

    I do not claim my results are miraculous. There are many miraculous achievements on this Primal Pathway that others continue to share. I often say that calorie-counting is unreliable so I thought I'd share this snippet to encourage others who are trapped in a calorie-counting mode to break free, relax and perhaps realize greater benefits as I did.

    Although I wasn't initially attracted to a primal diet for weight loss, my weight was a continual battle for me. For years I weighed and recorded it weekly. I struggled to maintain my goal of 167 lbs, standing 5'8". I bounced all around it, counting calories and trying hard to keep them around 1800 per day. I did not eat poorly. I was already a whole foods advocate, but I just ate the wrong macros and avoided the right ones.

    I was looking for relief from joint pain when I learned that my grain and fruit based diet might be a cause. Chasing that thread, I saw myriad things I might be doing wrong. I also saw that I might be able to maintain that 167 lb goal with less frustration with a shift to primal. So on March 3 of that year, I quit counting calories.

    I restricted my carbs along the lines of Mark's Carb Curve, increased protein and greatly increased saturated and other fats. Joint pain faded over a few weeks and disappeared. Weight melted off and went well below my 167 lb goal to the mid-to-upper 140s, occasionally spiking above 150, usually following business trips during which it's difficult to stay on track. I was happy to let the weight loss continue. The weight loss raised a few eyebrows. Some worried I might be ill. Nope. Since then, I've never felt better nor had more sustained energy. No joint pain. Rarely tired. I don't know how many calories I consume. I don't care. They are no longer relevant to me.

    jwc weight.jpg
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    Last edited by John Caton; 08-25-2015, 03:01 AM.
    Stop by to visit at http://primalways.net
    Old Paths ... New Journeys

  • #2
    John, that is a great story. I'm so glad for your success. You have really researched this lifestyle and provide lots of useful information, thank you.
    My first journal - http://forum.marksdailyapple.com/for...mal-highlights

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    • #3
      Our ancestors didn't have to count calories because they either ate 1-3 big meals a day (likely staying in a caloric balance) and did strenuous exercise.

      But for fat loss or weight loss, counting calories is an absolute must. I've seen so many of these "I don't count calories" types end up stalling or gaining, further proving my point. People like Gary Taubes or Jonathan Scam Artist Bailor have put into their head the false notion that low-carb is an all you can eat diet
      Last edited by AwwYeah; 08-26-2015, 11:40 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by AwwYeah View Post

        But for fat loss or weight loss, counting calories is an absolute must.
        Not necessarily true. I have no idea what a calorie is but I still managed to lose weight. Clearly I reduced them, but from what level to what level I will never know and I don't need to.

        Eating sensible amounts of real food will get you healthy.If counting calories helps someone gain awareness of what they are actually eating and adjust appropriately then it is has served a useful purpose. But it is not essential.

        Anyone with an ounce of common sense should realise that "all you can eat" is not the opposite of "calorie counting".
        My first journal - http://forum.marksdailyapple.com/for...mal-highlights

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        • #5
          Hi John,
          Thanks for sharing your story and congratulations on your success. You mention that restricting carbohydrates helped ease your joint pain. As a joint pain sufferer myself who is trying the autoimmune protocol, can I ask what your daily carbohydrate intake was and from what types of foods it derived?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Orange View Post
            Hi John,
            Thanks for sharing your story and congratulations on your success. You mention that restricting carbohydrates helped ease your joint pain. As a joint pain sufferer myself who is trying the autoimmune protocol, can I ask what your daily carbohydrate intake was and from what types of foods it derived?
            When I was experiencing so much joint pain, my daily carb intake was in the 300+range. In terms of calories, they represented more than half my count. The carb portion of my diet was dominated by a variety of whole grains and fruit. But, I'm also a sugar addict and there were days when sugar binges took control. Protein was moderately high and chicken/turkey dominated. Fats were low and primarily O-6 PUFAs. I used fat starvation to control my calorie intake.

            The carbs, themselves, were not the cause of the pain. It was the grain phytates. By cutting out the grains, with my motive being to cure the pain, I naturally reduced my carb intake, but I offset that reduction by adding a lot of animal protein and fat. That combination resulted in my weight loss, despite my calorie count actually being higher, just undocumented, because I quit tracking calories.
            Stop by to visit at http://primalways.net
            Old Paths ... New Journeys

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            • #7
              A lot of calorie related threads these days. :/

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Dwayne71 View Post
                A lot of calorie related threads these days. :/
                True, because there are so many varying n=1s by those who are or have been guided by calorie counting.

                The anti-calorie stance I continue to take is intended to emphasize that variability. Good planning requires some consistency and the calorie is too variable, not in its definition of course, but in the practical application of their use to predict energy utilization by the body. There are better ways.
                Stop by to visit at http://primalways.net
                Old Paths ... New Journeys

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                • #9
                  I never count calories and eat until I'm full virtually every time. Which technically means, I follow an all-you-can-eat Primal diet.

                  I went from 205lbs no muscle to 160lbs three years ago and have maintained that ever since. The weight is the same, but strength and muscle mass have been gained in spades, so body fat loss is likely greater than indicated by the weight loss.

                  I ignore calories so much that I can't even tell you what the ballpark caloric content of any food is.

                  Just my N=1.

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                  • #10
                    Though I've roller-coastered with my weight my entire life and have never been a "normal" weight the most significant weight loss I've ever achieved was done without considering or counting calories. For me, what I eat is way more important than how much. I've been able to drop 70-80 pounds on multiple occasions eating as much as I want with a low carb approach. I've also tried low calorie diets like weight watchers or slim fast with little to no success. On those low calorie diets I would just be hungry and pissed off all the time especially after starving all week only to see the scale not budge. When I discovered low carb it was like experiencing a miracle. Every aspect of my health improves when I am sticking to low carb especially combined with paleo.

                    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by AwwYeah View Post
                      But for fat loss or weight loss, counting calories is an absolute must.
                      This is probably the easiest thing to disprove that I have seen written on these forums in several years!

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                      • #12
                        I have always been a strong believer in CICO. It is the only thing that has allowed me to maintain weight. Over the many decades of my life, I have lost and regained 25-35 lbs 4 or 5 times. I found MDA a couple years ago and, after some experimentation, I have settled on a PB based diet which I enjoy and find very satisfying. However, I can still easily overeat and gain weight unless I do something to control portions. CICO does that for me. I believe it is possible that my steady state calories could be higher or lower if I ate different foods because I believe it is possible that not all calories are created equal, ie affect my body in the same way. Given my fairly steady state life in terms of physical activity and food choices, CICO is the perfect tool for me.

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                        • #13
                          I first began LCHF in April not for me but for my husband who was pretty sick, diabetes and heart failure and very overweight. Counting calories with weight watchers and other groups did nothing for him (he's been trying for years!!) and in fact I'd seen his weight increase over the years. I didn't count calories when I began cooking him LCHF meals, just tried it as a last resort. Since April he's lost 38lbs with no exercise. His health is greatly improved, it's from there that I've begun PB. Counting calories doesn't work for some people particularly if medications complicate things.
                          My present is a result of my past choices, making the right choices today will create my futuresigpic

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by countrygirl08 View Post
                            I first began LCHF in April not for me but for my husband who was pretty sick, diabetes and heart failure and very overweight. Counting calories with weight watchers and other groups did nothing for him (he's been trying for years!!) and in fact I'd seen his weight increase over the years. I didn't count calories when I began cooking him LCHF meals, just tried it as a last resort. Since April he's lost 38lbs with no exercise. His health is greatly improved, it's from there that I've begun PB. Counting calories doesn't work for some people particularly if medications complicate things.
                            How do you define LCHF and how do you know you are eating LCHF? Eg, if LC means <50g/d of net carbs, how do you know if your hubby is eating <50g/d?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                              This is probably the easiest thing to disprove that I have seen written on these forums in several years!
                              I agree, I think just because one person needs to count calories does not mean that another does not. But just because one person doesn't need to count calories doesn't mean that another person does not. Different things work for different people.

                              I'm a calorie counter and the more I know myself, the more it makes sense. I eat because I enjoy the hell out of food- any food. So I need to limit my intake because I'd eat endless food and "eating to satiation" is nothing for me- if I'm lovin' that steak, I ain't gonna stop. So I count calories and plan my eating. PITA, but it works for me.

                              I tried all the tricks and at the end of the day, I just do best to count calories. It has nothing to do with limitations and everything to do with awareness.

                              But there are a TON of people who don't need to count calories. We can all be right....

                              http://maggiesfeast.wordpress.com/
                              Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!

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