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Calorie Counting for Weight Loss - anybody else?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Two years ago I went on a low-carb, paleo type diet and lost 20 lbs rather effortlessly. But alas, the change in foods was too extreme and not sustainable for me. I fell off the wagon and gained it all back. I recently tried to go on it again but couldn't stomach (ha ha) life without my favourite foods. 


DH turned me on to a calorie counting program online that makes it really easy to track how much you are eating. I set a daily goal and have stuck with it most days and so far have lost 8 lbs in 6 weeks. I am so happy that I can eat anything I want, like rice and potatoes, cereal and oatmeal, barley soup, bread (oh god, life without homemade bread was almost too much to bear, lol) etc. I even indulge in desserts fairly often, just much smaller portions than I used to. 


I started running again after 3 years off and am so happy to be doing it again. It really doesn't allow me to eat much more - a 30 minute run only burns around 300 calories, which is less than a Tim Horton's donut, lol, but I love getting fit and feeling that much healthier. 


Anybody else tracking calories to lose weight?

post #2 of 12

Hello there! It looks like your post might have been missed, so I wanted to bump it up for attention. :bump: Anyone else calorie counting?

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks, HappyMommy. It's okay. There are many routes to healthy eating and weight management. I'm just excited because this one is working so well and so manageable. I've joined the Team Challenge thread so will get to chat about progress etc there. :)

post #4 of 12

yes, despite all the advice online in the paleo community against counting, i am doing it.  why?  because my relationship with food and my ability to notice when i'm hungry was so outta whack that eating only when hungry was kinda impossible.  i feel like i need to continue to count calories for a period of time long enough to get back into a normalcy of eating.  so that i can better assess when i'm hungry versus just craving foods for the happy brain chemicals they are going to release.  and so that i can notice even the slight hunger feeling that will creep up unnoticed and give me a headachey feeling before i realize it.  i don't know any other way.


i am not only counting calories, but also eating low-carb, paleo + dairy.  i am such a picky eater and unwilling to very frequently buy & cook meat, that it is inevitable that i must consume dairy to get enough fat & vitamins & minerals.  well, that or eat eggs at two meals a day, but i don't see that happening.  and dairy and me, we just get along so well.  i also eat sugar only that naturally occurs in fruits (i eat an apple a day, and usually about 5 prunes ---those are my candies), and carbs are limited to nuts, sweet potatoes, (there are some in milk via lactose), hummus, and occasionally white potatoes.  and in this context i count my calories.  i'm 5'6", ~158, and when i started all this i was 185, and i was doing daily 3-mile steep hill walking for exercise, and sticking to a net daily 1200 calories (so, roughly 1300 food intake).  now i'm doing crossfit 3X/wk, walking same walk 2X on days i don't crossfit, and since i don't have too much more fat to lose, and my basal metabolic rate has definitely increased due to being more physically active on a daily basis as well as the types of exercise i am doing, i figured that i need more like 1500 net calories now, so on crossfit days, i eat more like 1800 calories, and on walk days, more like 1600.  i never feel hungry, i never feel weak or fatigued or anything like that, and i feel energetic and pleased with my progress.


so, even against the cautions that say not to count, i am doing alright.  not stressing out too much if i occasionally go over.  and i even cheat periodically and eat a godiva truffle.  but i always, always, even on cheat days, add those calories to the log.  then i am still always accountable and don't accidentally do any mindless eating.


thought i'd tell you that i'm counting, as well as a little about my thought process and how i'm going about it.  hope yours is working out for you.  btw, i quit eating added sugar and all grains because they made me have intestinal problems, depression, acne, and lethargy.  if they didn't do that, i'm sure i'd have no problem eating them.  the difference was night and day, though, so i can't go back.  but i am not super crazy about how many calories from carbs/protein/fat, i just make sure i get more food items into my body each day that are heavier in the fat/protein category.  that seems to work for me.


ok, ending this before it becomes a novel!  :D

post #5 of 12

Yes, I do count calories. I have been using www.livestrong.com to record my daily food intake and exercise. So far I have lost 14 lbs.

post #6 of 12
I think I need to start calorie counting. And combining it with a low-carb, Paleo. I need to work on portion control and calorie-counting would help.
post #7 of 12

yeah, i think you said it: portion control.  my doctor told me years ago that basically i could accomplish what i wanted (i was only "chubby") with portion control.  she was probably right.  that if i could have somehow managed proper portion control, i would have done alright.  it wasn't until i started weighing out what 1 oz of nuts is, 3 oz of sliced sweet potato is, 4 oz of meat is, etc., b/c i was doing this to count the calories, that i realized two things: (1) my idea of portions was WAY out of whack b/c, in reality, portions are small.  really small.  (ok, really: are portions small, or are the amounts served in packaged meals and in restaurants enormous?  i think the latter, but it's what you observe all the time, everywhere, so the portions you have to eat end up seeming small, instead of the other way around.)  - and - (2) food dimensions can be very deceiving.  if it's not a liquid or semi-liquid going into the same container you use all the time for that food, a 3-oz serving of some foods looks too small some days and too big other days.  i can't really trust my own eyes to properly tell me how much there is of the thing i'm looking at if it's irregularly or variably shaped/sized (for example, shrimps, silced root veggies, my own batch of very randomly combined mixed nuts w/ everything from teeny sunflower seeds to great big brazil nuts, varying thickness meat/fish fillets, etc.)


so, yeah, i guess you could say that my calorie counting is just a necessary step toward getting the hang of proper portion control.  but if i eat when i'm hungry, i always end up accidentally eating b/c food sounds yummy (but my stomach wasn't actually sending me hunger signals, it just seemed like it b/c the food craving got too strong a hold of me), or i do the opposite, and end up not eating b/c i'm busy and distracted, and on a diet that is mostly fats & proteins this isn't particularly problematic, but if it goes on too long, i end up feeling a bit headachey.  so i just circumvent these pitfalls by eating, at 3 fairly regular times a day, a certain number of deliberately measured calories.  i'm hoping that eventually my relationship with food will normalize to a different thing and that eating when i'm hungry will make sense, but for now, this is how i do portion control, and it's working, so i'm happy.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

I know what you mean, filamentary, about having an out-of-whack concept of portions. When I started weighing my food I, too, was floored at some of the calorie counts. I also found "eat when you are hungry" to be challenging because I might unknowingly eat something really high in calories even though I was actually hungry (because I may have eaten something earlier that was not filling or satiating). 


I was eating paleo + dairy for about a year and a half but for me it just wasn't sustainable. I missed a lot of the foods that I considered "normal" (and I'm talking homemade, whole foods here, not processed junk) and often felt deprived in that sense. 


Anyways, like kzwo I am using an online program to track my calories and exercise: myfitnesspal.com


I am also a self-professed spreadsheet geek and I have been tracking my numbers for almost 3 months now. I'm blown away by how much the math "fits" - the numbers accurately predict my weight loss. 


I have to say that I am so much happier now being able to eat "normal" foods. And if I choose right (filling, lower calorie meals like rice and beans, chili, etc) I usually have some calories left over in the evening for a treat. :)

post #9 of 12
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post

I also found "eat when you are hungry" to be challenging because I might unknowingly eat something really high in calories even though I was actually hungry


yes, another good point!  if you're hungry, then it would *seem* totally safe to eat a small handful of food.  no matter what it is, it will easily fit in your stomach, be down in a few small bites, and take a while to send the i'm-not-hungry-anymore signals (longer than it takes to eat those few bites).  it's not like, while you're downing those few nibbles, you can tell whether you will genuinely have satiated your hunger, unless you know that you're eating a calorie-dense food, versus something with almost no calories (like sliced bell peppers, one of my favorite snacks).  that difference may be more intuitive, but what about how one hummus has 50 calories per ounce, and another, 80 calories.  when you're eating 4 ounces at a time as a dip for a veggie snack, it's a substantial difference: 200 versus 320 calories.  actually, i never eat 4 oz of the higher-calorie hummus.  i scale back my portion to only 2.5-3 oz, lest it become the majority of calories (or macronutrients) for a meal, as opposed to the mere snack it was supposed to be.  to me, this is the beauty of counting calories.


i should point out that, yes, i do know hummus is made of legumes and therefore not paleo; i'm not sure i'm convinced that legumes are all that bad, though.  most sources wanna talk about anti-nutrients and phytates & stuff like that as the reasons to avoid legumes.  i have yet to find any academic journals discussing anti-nutrients in any way shape or form as related to health, digestion, or nutrient absorption, so i take that stuff with a grain of salt, like a lot of the hippie/health-food advice found online.  i practically won't take anything seriously that isn't written by an academic (or accurately, intelligently summarized and linked to said material), almost to a fault!  that said, the biggest problem for me with hummus is that it's usually got canola oil in it.  i should seriously stick to avocado, but i still haven't gotten the knack for making sure i have a ripe avocado on hand every day, to make salted, squished avocado my veggie dip instead (which i find yummier anyway).


ok, but here's a head-scratcher: i'll be pregnant soon.  then what?  eek!  i've read tons about how incredibly harmful insulin resistance is to your reproductive system, both in terms of reducing fertility and harming the fetus (with lasting consequences to the child -- increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes).  so i know that i can't just be careless.  continuing to eat organic and keeping my carb intake to a minimum will obviously help.  but how the heck am i going to know when, and by how much, my caloric intake should increase?  i'm still trying to figure this one out.

post #10 of 12

Sounds like you have key elements to a successful plan.  Being aware of you calorie intake can only help, as well as a steady exercise routine.  30 minutes is kind of a long period to carve out every day, but if you can afford it, then all the better for you.


I would just add things like having a diet buddy to help keep you on track.


You pretty much got what you need to succeed, though.

post #11 of 12
I've been calorie counting for three weeks now via My Fitness Pal (Hi, piglet!), and I couldn't be happier with it. I've lost exactly 6 pounds, despite eating everything I wanted for Thanksgiving (but tracking it all!). It is really, really great to be eating the whole foods that I enjoy in moderation (I love to cook), without leaving any major food groups out, which is what I did for a long time with various fad diets. I have felt absolutely normal and energetic these past three weeks and not lethargic and hungry, as I did when I was previously dieting. I plan to continue using MFP to reach my goals through the spring, as well as continuing to exercise at my gym. I am so happy I found out about My Fitness Pal.
post #12 of 12

I use mfp intermittently when I feel like I need to track.  It helps me plan ahead for sure.  

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