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  • John Caton
    started a topic The Day I Quit Counting Calories

    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.

  • John Caton
    replied
    Originally posted by Gorbag View Post
    Setting the right number of calories is not one variable among others for weight loss- or gain; it’s THE variable, the numero uno for whatever your goals may be, whether its up or down in weight or for body recomposition. OF course weight can also be manipulated indirectly by portion control or change to a diet that blunt appetite etc., but the underlying mechanism is always energy gained or lost from body tissues, this is what calories measures…
    Sometimes I almost think you've got it, but you manage to revert to your old ways. Tell me, what would you need to see to become a believer? Calorie concept of diet dates back to the 18th century, about the time electricity was discovered. You are not a furnace putting out heat to be measured by kCals. You are a combination battery and efficient semi-conductor. Your electrical energy potential is where it's at. I swear. You worry me.

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  • WestCoastFire
    replied
    How I explain to people whom want to lose weight is there is basically 2 hurdles one has to jump over to basically be able to manipulate their weight for their goals (either bulking, maintaining, or losing). The hurdles are Insulin (glucose tolerance), and metabolism (calories).

    The first hurdle people have to leap (or fix I should say) is the insulin/glucose tolerance portion of the equation. Insulin is an anabolic hormone, one cannot lose fat when insulin is flooded into their system. Insulin blocks the body's ability to use fat as energy (hence why sugar crashes occur). It doesn't matter whether someone eats 3000 "paleo" calories, or 1500 "paleo" daily; as long as there is insulin in the system, you won't be burning fat. So if your someone whom eats 6 solid meals a day, your likely to have insulin in your system more often than not. With that, your either going to be in maintaining or bulking mode, but certainly not fat burning mode.

    Once, the insulin levels have been controlled via improving glucose tolerance, the next hurdle is metabolism/calories. Yes calories do play a role in weight control because everyone has a certain BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). If someone's BMR is say 2000 calories with no activity, they will need to eat less than 2000 calories to burn fat (assuming there is still no activity. If they want to gain, eat more than 2000 calories. Once exercise is added, that has to be factored in, as that alone will raise the BMR. If someone who exercises now has a BMR of 2400, well they need to eat less than 2400 to burn fat. If they want to bulk, eat more than 2400, or maintain, eat around 2400.

    The problem with what most people do, is they either ignore or skip the first hurdle entirely. They just factor in the calorie portion of the equation, then their weight loss journey fails miserably because their body is all screwed up due to glucose/insulin issues. You can't tell an obese person whose primarily eaten crappy carbs all their lives to just simply cut calories, it won't work. The body's insulin levels need to be addressed first THEN the calorie portion of the equation can be looked at. The beauty of paleo/primal is that it basically kills 2 birds with one stone. Eating natural whole foods naturally fixes glucose tolerance over time so the body isn't flooded with insulin. This primes it for fat burning, but also, given that it can be very difficult to overeat in calories on paleo/primal, people for the most part have no trouble eating below their BMR while sating their appetite.

    Also a thing to keep note, counting calories really only becomes important the closer you are to your weight goal; however in saying that, Insulin manipulation plays a much larger roll in the entire weight loss equation. If you can't control your insulin, you aren't losing weight.

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  • Slowneal
    replied
    Originally posted by Gorbag View Post
    Setting the right number of calories is not one variable among others for weight loss- or gain; it’s THE variable, the numero uno for whatever your goals may be, whether its up or down in weight or for body recomposition. OF course weight can also be manipulated indirectly by portion control or change to a diet that blunt appetite etc., but the underlying mechanism is always energy gained or lost from body tissues, this is what calories measures…
    I guess we differ in opinion.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gorbag
    replied
    Setting the right number of calories is not one variable among others for weight loss- or gain; it’s THE variable, the numero uno for whatever your goals may be, whether its up or down in weight or for body recomposition. OF course weight can also be manipulated indirectly by portion control or change to a diet that blunt appetite etc., but the underlying mechanism is always energy gained or lost from body tissues, this is what calories measures…

    Leave a comment:


  • countrygirl08
    replied
    Originally posted by John Caton View Post
    Damn it! I blew it! Confession is good for the soul ...

    For the past 3 days since I started this thread, and for the first time in 18 months, I counted calories. Curiosity is who I will blame. I promise I'll never do it again.

    Eating as I normally do, except I weighed and measured, I averaged 3100 calories per day. That's 1300 more per day than my limit of 1800 when I quit counting. Weight a minute! How the hell did I lose 1.4 lbs this week?
    love it

    Leave a comment:


  • magnolia1973
    replied
    I think the use of the calorie for that purpose may ignore so many other variables that ultimately lead to weight loss and gain.
    I definitely think the first path people should venture down is to start eating real foods for weight loss. You really can't progress for a long term when you are eating random chemical foods. There are a ton of variables- it always amazes me how life changing eliminating gluten can be for people. If you just calorie count, you may never even realize you have an issue with gluten.

    If you don't meet your goals though, you may need to put more thought into your choices.

    Leave a comment:


  • Slowneal
    replied
    Originally posted by Silvergirl View Post
    I have been so thrilled to find this lifestyle, I tried all of the diets out there over the years, with all the of the calorie counting ways.

    For me not counting calories has made this work for me. I don't actively count anything.

    What made me lose weight in the beginning was eating few carbs, no counting but focusing on meat and fat and a sprinkling of carbs, then when I needed to stabilize as getting too thin, adding more carbs like potato and rice back in.

    To maintain now, I have a routine, of weighing every day to make sure I don't slide. Do not eat after 6.30 at night until 9.30 in the morning. Try to stick to 3 full meals a day. Don't go overboard on sweets and nuts (my kryptonite) I have to keep those things out of the house if I am finding a strong tendency to go overboard. If I notice the scale creep up a little, it is usually because I have started to snack a bit on something like paleo mug cake or jelly babies, rice crisps or something like that. Just have to get them out of the house again and all goes back to normal.
    Hey, congrats on your success. I too am thrilled about the whole primal lifestyle. Ditto to most things that you are saying.

    I have been "primal" for a couple of years and no complaints at all. I will say that I have definitely learned to not be as macronutrient focused. Because although I am definitely on the higher fat lower carb side, I have over time incorporated a lot of different foods that are more carbish (more fruit, potatoes, sweet potatoes) without really any adverse effects weight wise.

    The mid 20th century nutritionism movement has made us think of foods in terms like fat, protein, carbs, calories, but I find it more useful to think of food in terms like beef, kale, pinapple, potato, bison, duck, carrots, halibut, blueberries, spinach.... like our species has kind of always thought about food. To me, a whole food means so much more than its macros.

    I think macronutrients probably become less relevant (not completely irrelevant) when the foods in question contain cellular carbohydrates (in a whole food) and natural fats. As opposed to acellular carbohydrates (in refined "created" foods) and industrialized fats. Hunter gatherer populations from around the world are mostly free from all Western disease and their macronutrient ratios are wildly variable. Local genetic adaptations can certainly play a role, but the lesson should be clear that for overall health, macros are probably not all that they are cracked up to be if the diet is made up of whole foods.

    I especially dislike the word calorie in its application to food. I find it very reductionist. A kilocalorie is the amount of energy needed to increase 1 Kg water temp by 1 degree C at a pressure of 1 atm. In a bomb calorimeter. Seems like such an arbitrary random measurement when what really matters in a whole food are all the nutrients it can give you and how many ways it can affect our bodies positively. And for such a specific measurement for a complex whole food, it also doesn't account for all of the day to day hormonal and metabolic tendencies and fluctuations in our bodies that we can't possibly measure. I understand that for weight loss (or maintenance) success, many people have to keep an eye on the general amount of food that they eat because of variable leptin and ghrelin responses in people, but I think the use of the calorie for that purpose may ignore so many other variables that ultimately lead to weight loss and gain.
    Last edited by Slowneal; 08-30-2015, 10:26 AM.

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  • Neckhammer
    replied
    Originally posted by Gorbag View Post
    just leave it up to your body to figure out how much it need as everybody knows, hunger, cravings, thirst or lack of those are never mistaken...
    That you say this sarcastically.....I can't think of a better way to sum up our general difference in philosophy regarding this subject!

    Never and always are too strong of words, but the premise that consumption of the evolutionary correct foods does exactly that which you state above for a person is certainly one oft cited benefit of an ancestral approach.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gorbag
    replied
    Listen to those solid advices John, as we all know counting and meazuring fat makes you fat for sure, much better to eat as much as you want, thats a proven method that work for weightloss as long as you count those evil carbs!!! Stay away from counting fat calories though, thats very bad for your health and wellbeing! Knowing about calories in foods can only be harmful so less knowlegde and control is better, just leave it up to your body to figure out how much it need as everybody knows, hunger, cravings, thirst or lack of those are never mistaken...

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  • Neckhammer
    replied
    ^loll....perfect!

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  • Rig D
    replied
    John, put the calorie counter away.
    I'm with you on not counting calories. I don't count carbs either.
    Being a guy seems to be the "magic" ingredient we need to eat Primally and not count the stuff and still manage weight, and feel great. The ladies seem to generally have more trouble with this, don't know why.
    I'm thinking of going on a calorie splurge. I'm thinking of an 8" 2x4 and a cup of gasoline. That should have enough calories to fire me up for at least a day. Calories, that's all that's important after all.

    Leave a comment:


  • j3nn
    replied
    Different foods have different thermal effects. Eating a well-done steak has more (available) calories than a rare steak; raw veggies have less calories than cooked veggies; carbs in general take more energy to process than fats. There are many variables, which is why you can manipulate macros and certain foods, raise the ceiling (or lower it), but the ceiling is still there.

    Many 80/10/10 (80% carbs, 10% fats, 10% protein) eaters eat in excess of 4,000-5,000 calories a day and remain skeletal looking because of their macro makeup.
    Last edited by j3nn; 08-29-2015, 12:46 PM.

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  • Gorbag
    replied
    Originally posted by John Caton View Post

    Eating as I normally do, except I weighed and measured, I averaged 3100 calories per day. That's 1300 more per day than my limit of 1800 when I quit counting. Weight a minute! How the hell did I lose 1.4 lbs this week?
    Lots of possibilities; one of them is that you could have lost 2 pound of water while gaining 0.6 pound of fat. If you did so you may even look leaner due to less subcutaneous water, so don’t let the scale fool you John…
    Last edited by Gorbag; 08-29-2015, 07:39 AM.

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  • John Caton
    replied
    Damn it! I blew it! Confession is good for the soul ...

    For the past 3 days since I started this thread, and for the first time in 18 months, I counted calories. Curiosity is who I will blame. I promise I'll never do it again.

    Eating as I normally do, except I weighed and measured, I averaged 3100 calories per day. That's 1300 more per day than my limit of 1800 when I quit counting. Weight a minute! How the hell did I lose 1.4 lbs this week?

    Leave a comment:

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