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Anybody (ladies especially) find Calorie restriction to NOT work for fat/weight loss? Hack my caloric intake, and share yours!

by (1683)
Updated about 2 hours ago
Created January 11, 2012 at 8:24 PM

I know most people say "don't count calories" and I've posted a question on calories before, but here I go. Sorry, it's a bit long :D

Any of you every find calorie restriction to NOT work?!

I'm still in the process of trying to find out my body's trick to fat loss, and I ended up speaking to lady who owns a Crossfit box and went from 25% BF to 12% in about 10 weeks. I looked at her FitDay and her calories were low (around 1400-1600 a day) and she was LC...her whole thing started with a raw milk fast. I tried to mimic her eating for a few weeks but was always fighting myself to not go eat. In other words, I was starving. Since then I've gone back to eating normally. I cook every meal, everything is organic, hormone/antibiotic free, grass-fed, raw, etc...nothing is processed, with the exception for the 1-2 times a week I have full fat Greek Yogurt or a high quality cheese. I will have a small glass of grassfed, non-homogenized, low-temp pasteurized milk about 30-45 mins. or so after a workout (has that yummy cream top :D).

I'll have a glass of red wine a few nights a week...and being in college lets say I "go out" once a week , which means multiple drinks (which means vodka or tequila...occasionally an unflavored brown liquor... with soda water and lots of lime...so still no carb) But lets face it Pre-Med and working with our Football team leaves me sleepy...so going out usually means a glass or two of wine and an hour or two downtown.

I started tracking my intake again to see where I can improve:

Fat intake is usually like 120-150 g a day

Protein in usually between 95-120 g. a day

Carbs usually between 40 and 80 g a day

I usually end up between 2000 and 2500 calories daily. This amount usually keeps me comfortable...but I'm very often hungry even with this amount. When I read THE Primal Blueprint, Sisson made a sample daily menu for a grown woman (Cindy Korg I think? :P) and her "Menu" consisted of about 1700 calories if I recall correctly.

I've been told my intake is too much for a female...especially one who wants to lose fat (but not necessarily lose weight...Id be content 10 lbs. heavier if I had more muscle mass). I will do a 24 hour fast every 10 days or so and usually wont eat for 12-16 hours after my last meal (so if Im done at 9 PM the earliest I will eat is 9 AM...usually. Some days I have coffee with cream before class and will eat when I get home). I am highly active, so I know my calorie needs are higher (I Crossfit 5 xs a week [soon to add a few "two-a-days" in preparation for competition], ride my horse 3-4 days a week, walk the dog almost every day, and walk on campus every day). I will take Wednesdays and Sundays off(will make sure to walk the dog on these days) normally. On these off days I FEEL SO DEPRIVED...I could literally eat everything in sight.

Is the amount I'm eating adequate? Is what I consume too much to ever burn fat? Too little to build muscle?

Also, what is your intake? Macro-ratios? Etc.

Do you even care about your caloric intake?!

Currently I weigh between 152-155 lbs, at 28% body fat. I am a 5'6", 19 year old female...

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a
1074 · December 17, 2012 at 1:03 AM

BE CAREFUL with dairy bc alot of ppl (esp overweight) suffer from leaky gut and often have dairy sensitivities. this can cause inflammation and stall weight loss/cause weight gain.

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560 · May 11, 2012 at 12:53 AM

there is no way anyone can say a healthy, weight-maintaining female is eating too much. michelle, rock on!

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605 · January 19, 2012 at 4:03 PM

You're eating way too much. A female eating 2500 calories for weight loss? I'm a male who can bench 300+ and deadlift 430+, and I only eat about ~1700 a day (I fast on some days, eat big meals on others). I've been losing ~7 lbs a month. Calorie restriction doesn't work if you're not actually restricting calories.

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1683 · January 19, 2012 at 2:47 PM

+1 for loving my profile and my million questions :D

C7fa1bf712d466cf7e9f2a404d5f0e34
40 · January 13, 2012 at 10:28 AM

It's also working for me, and Travis gave me the idea initially too.

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610 · January 13, 2012 at 2:32 AM

Well calories in and out do matter. His stuff is kind of old news - its not all about insulin. Want to lose fat - eat more fat - not that simple. I think he is addressing those low fatties that eat enormous amounts of carbs. Just need to eat healthy fats, get rid of the PUFAs, eat your protein and lower those carbs to a level that suits your lifestyle.

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971 · January 13, 2012 at 1:50 AM

really great answer.

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37187 · January 13, 2012 at 12:31 AM

That's the spirit!

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32518 · January 12, 2012 at 11:40 PM

For sure. I do intense body-weight resistance work once a week and free style dance "sprints" once a week, plus LOTS of walking.

Medium avatar
39841 · January 12, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Do you do any resistance training/high intensity stuff? It makes a huge difference in how the body partitions energy that goes way beyond the calories burned during the activity itself.

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32518 · January 12, 2012 at 8:41 PM

And I think it works best for folks who have been eating Paleo/Primal for awhile & have their nutrition dialed in.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
32518 · January 12, 2012 at 8:40 PM

Travis, it *finally* made sense to me after the Rabbit starvation post. I still eat yolks on my "meat days", but dropping the cheese and other fat has made a HUGE difference.

Medium avatar
39841 · January 12, 2012 at 6:50 PM

That's funny, I've been hesitating to give that advice lately because it always causes a tedious row with certain factions. I'm glad it's working for you! Simply add back in yolks and beef fat when you hit your goal and maintenance should be easy.

Medium avatar
39841 · January 12, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Good thing about red meat is that you can only F it up so much with a feedlot. It's certainly worse than grass-fed, but it's way better than pork, chicken etc. Just eat more steak from whatever your best source is.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2
1968 · January 12, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Yeah, I hear you. Think of it like someone who's neat vs. OCD. Having a messy house/room makes me feel like I have a messy life and being neat makes me feel like I have a handle on life. But I don't want to be the kind of person who vaccuums three times a day and flips if someone walks in with their shoes on. So... balance.

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1683 · January 12, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Anxious and obsessive screwed me for sure...but that whole "being able to control what you eat" factor somehow made me feel better last year when I was having my little "what the hell am i doing with my future" crisis. ...ass growing is awesome...

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1968 · January 12, 2012 at 3:11 PM

also, nice job! i grew an ass recently, it was pretty awesome, i'm proud of it too :)

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32518 · January 12, 2012 at 3:10 PM

And thanks to Travis for the idea!

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1968 · January 12, 2012 at 3:10 PM

I totally understand, and you should go after the things you want, just don't be obsessive or anxious or beat yourself up about it, and don't do anything nuts (starve yourself, etc.) because you really are in great shape and it would suck to mess that up. Better to be in awesome shape when you're 19, with 29% body fat, than to be ripped at 19 and then fighting hormonal monsters in your 30's.

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32518 · January 12, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Check out www.eatwild.com

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1683 · January 12, 2012 at 3:07 PM

...I dont look super different because I still have a layer of fat covering up my muscular arms...I will say since lightening up about what I eat there is more definition to my shoulders (my male coworkers always comment on how big they are...and Im damn proud :]) and my legs have never looked better (neither has my booty...Ive been deemed the "hardest ass" by many friends. Thank you crossfit ;] :P). Its just getting rid of that fat around my stomach, back, and arms...I'd like more definition whether that is at 15%, 20%, OR 25%

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1683 · January 12, 2012 at 3:02 PM

"Hangry" I like that...a lot. :] Ive definitely gotten over the whole "I was 12% BF" thing. Last year I was constantly stressed, having a little bit of an internal crisis over student loans/future/what I want to do, and am always overly competitive so my 5'11" Latina soccer player friend didnt make me feel so wonderful because I was gaining weight and she looks amazing...but what can you expect from someone who is on Mexico's national team? I'd still like to lower my body fat, because I'm not satisfied with the way I look in my "girl clothes"....Ive made HUGE gains muscularly, but....

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7
13692 · January 12, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Nice wisdom from the Red Fox

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1683 · January 12, 2012 at 5:43 AM

It's not a "I want to lose weight" things as much as a "Id like to lose body fat" thing...while the two commonly run hand in hand, Id even be happy if I ended up at 160 with a lower BF.

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1683 · January 12, 2012 at 5:40 AM

I'm consistently getting stronger...In March of 2011 I was 150 lbs and at 29% BF. In December I was (And still am) 155 at 28%...so the only change really was the fact that I gained muscle while my fat levels stayed constant.

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3280 · January 12, 2012 at 4:30 AM

Whoa, that's a lot of unnecessary venom from Bill. I don't think the OP deserved that.

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5477 · January 12, 2012 at 2:54 AM

+ 2 bajilion million.This is up there with the top 10 responses on PH!

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17949 · January 12, 2012 at 2:47 AM

Agree with you all, group hug! For now you need to go on a "Health-gain" diet AND lifestyle. Be as healthy as you can possibly be in every aspect, and then once you're feeling really good about everything adjust calories accordingly, if you even have to do it consciously.

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713 · January 12, 2012 at 1:49 AM

Sorry, while the comment was not "nice," it's true. Your body's metabolism could slow down,etc,but if you burn off more calories then you consume, you will lose weight.

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15229 · January 12, 2012 at 1:00 AM

absolutely. i definitely find the the more nutrient dense my food choices, the longer i am satiated and the less i have to eat. i wish it was something people talked more about, generally. thank you, paul! great input as always.

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37187 · January 12, 2012 at 12:59 AM

@Bill, I've had friends who couldn't lose on 1000 calories a day while I lost 2 pounds per week on 1500. We were similar size/age/weight and sat next to each other at work. Also equally sedentary. I can only agree if "calorie restriction" is defined differently by individual. And I think we both can be right if my gut wasn't absorbing nutrients as well as theirs.

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5531 · January 12, 2012 at 12:42 AM

+ a bajillion million

4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f
2531 · January 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM

i LOVE this answer. i'm at a healthy weight for my height, and yet, consistently find myself wanting to lose weight and being dissatisfied with my body. however, the reality is that my goal is likely not maintainable or healthy for my body type, and i should focus my energies elsewhere.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4
9647 · January 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM

I want to second these points. After some experiences recently with getting better micronutrition for a while and then not getting it, I think that is a big part of hunger and appetite control (and therefore weight loss/body composition). Sometimes people talk about bone stocks and organ meats as fun little extras, but I think they are not at all. They should be smack dab in the center of the paleo/ancestral/human paradigm. You'll see a lot of contradictory advice on supplementation, but try magnesium for a while and see what happens. And maybe some other ones that Paul J recommends.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb
19220 · January 11, 2012 at 11:51 PM

Good points there.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051
15229 · January 11, 2012 at 11:27 PM

this is extraordinarily reasonable advice. i advise everyone to pay close attention to the voice of reason in a room. it will keep you out of trouble every time.

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1288 · January 11, 2012 at 11:23 PM

Tough call but I think I would try eating more of the wal mart steaks and see if it helps -

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1288 · January 11, 2012 at 11:21 PM

For me I counted the cals and the carbs and the fat - nothing sifted the weight till I started to sleep better - I take pregaba it took about 2 wks but it was only after I got great sleep ( and I did not think I slept bad ) that the weight came off for me

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 10:20 PM

My sister used the acronym SVP the other day... ...si vous plait.... as if I speak french....

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37187 · January 11, 2012 at 10:19 PM

@Michelle, I seriously broke the "first thing" rule and that's how I got so far into IF. My assessment is that I slowed the LR a little but it did work.

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37187 · January 11, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Sorry, Your Mileage May Vary. I should know better than to use undefined acronyms but it's FUN! :-))

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Y.M.M.V?! whats this mean?! haha

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 10:14 PM

sadly...most of my friends think "Chik-Fil-A" is healthy. i doubt that would ever work for my friends. some days i can go without food and be totally content. some days im ravenous and eat everything...my hunger is seriously bipolar. ive looked into kruse's reset, and tried it...i absolutely hated it. i can't eat according to his rules because I get sluggish after 50+ g. of protein and fat in the morning.

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19220 · January 11, 2012 at 10:12 PM

Okay, I ask because when some people say a few glasses they can mean quite a lot :)

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 10:04 PM

I went on BC in the fall of 2010 when I came to school...that was the main reason I went from 139 pounds to 155 initially. I stopped BC last March and havent been on it since. When I started the Primal Bluepring and Crossfit I dropped to 147 then put it all back on in muscle. I dont really have a "stress management" routine...other than Crossfit. ;] Most nights I try to be in bed by 10(whether I actually SLEEP is another thing, Ive always had an active mind while trying to sleep), and Ill wake up around six

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 10:00 PM

@Matthew my weight will vary from 152-155 ususally...depending on the week. natural fluctuations and all... ill probably have a glass of wine 2 or 3 nights a week...this includes my going out. When I go out I don't really do the whole college BINGE DRINK thing, i may have an additional glass of wine or vodka/soda...thats if I drink, Im usually the DD.

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 9:58 PM

sadly the only good quality steaks in my area run about 14/15 dollars a pound (17ish for bison) and any organic hormone/antibiotic grain fed still are running at like 12/13 a pound. it gets a little pricey for a college student :[ id rather buy a million eggs than give into wal-mart steaks

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19220 · January 11, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Also is your weight currently stable? Has it changed up or down lately?

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19220 · January 11, 2012 at 9:29 PM

What is your calorie intake from alcohol each week? It might be worth measuring carefully. A glass of wine a few night a week can still add up.

Medium avatar
39841 · January 11, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Eggs are kind of poor for satiety, but if you just find a cut of steak you like/can afford that has a *reasonable* amount of fat and build a diet around that, you'll experience way more satiety for much longer. There isn't really any such thing as a truly lean steak, so even if there is no visible fat such as with top round, there's still a fair amount of fat there.

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 9:02 PM

yeah i did. i guess im going to be eating a LOT more eggs :D just found some grassfed livers for 5 bucks a pound...guess ill go get some of that too and learn to love it.

Medium avatar
39841 · January 11, 2012 at 8:58 PM

Did you read what I wrote about protein and satiety?

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 8:53 PM

I'd have to be a big, burly dude to cut on that many calories? REALLY?! I guess I'm destined to be a big, burly dude because I'm almost always hungry. Awesome.

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19 Answers

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb
25
19220 · January 11, 2012 at 11:09 PM

Firstly, why do you want to lose weight? Unless you are carrying a lot of abdominal fat, I'd say that you are a healthy weight. You have a BMI of 25 and 20-30% fat is a healthy level for a young woman.

For an active young woman doing cross-fit 5 days a week and horse riding a calorie intake of 2000-2500 seems reasonable to me. If your weight is stable then you are probably eating about the right amount.

How many calories someone takes in and how much they expend are quite hard to estimate accurately without obsessive levels of measuring foods. Don't worry to much about what other people eat or say you should eat, it is very individual.

A carb intake of 40-80 grams per day may be a bit low for someone of a normal weight doing so much exercise. Try eating some more carbs and some less fat. If you are cooking all your own food from good ingredients then I would stop worrying any more about ratios and grams. Just don't be afraid to eat more carb rich foods, try eating more sweet potatoes or similar.

If you seem to be eating enough and are still hungry I would do the following:

Rather than focus on weight loss and calories just focus on your appetite.

Think about what you eat and how. Notice what foods keep you full longer and what don't. Are larger meals better or more snacks? Maybe eat more vegetables? Play around with it all but starving yourself wont achieve anything in the long run.

As an example I find boiled potatoes very filling.

Or you could just stop worrying about it eat well, exercise well, be healthy and enjoy you life at college :)

C8b2136ef95ba6aac211825ff38cc0e9
971 · January 13, 2012 at 1:50 AM

really great answer.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7
13692 · January 12, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Nice wisdom from the Red Fox

273729a18d2f18903815d2644a4d64de
1683 · January 12, 2012 at 5:43 AM

It's not a "I want to lose weight" things as much as a "Id like to lose body fat" thing...while the two commonly run hand in hand, Id even be happy if I ended up at 160 with a lower BF.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6
5477 · January 12, 2012 at 2:54 AM

+ 2 bajilion million.This is up there with the top 10 responses on PH!

Cc7381bd787721575ea9198048132adb
5531 · January 12, 2012 at 12:42 AM

+ a bajillion million

4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f
2531 · January 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM

i LOVE this answer. i'm at a healthy weight for my height, and yet, consistently find myself wanting to lose weight and being dissatisfied with my body. however, the reality is that my goal is likely not maintainable or healthy for my body type, and i should focus my energies elsewhere.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051
15229 · January 11, 2012 at 11:27 PM

this is extraordinarily reasonable advice. i advise everyone to pay close attention to the voice of reason in a room. it will keep you out of trouble every time.

9e20abb05f3f6e3cc4bb107f8980aecd
14
5929 · January 11, 2012 at 11:42 PM

I think your carb intake is low. You average around 150 g carb+protein combined which is the minimum healthy intake for a sedentary person; and you do CrossFit 5x per week. Your protein intake is optimal as is, so I would just add carbs. Vegetables don't count; add safe starches preferably, but sugary foods if necessary.

The most important key to body composition is minimizing omega-6 fat intake. So try to get your fat calories from seafood, red meats, and dairy. Don't get any vegetable oils except the tropical plant oils like coconut oil.

The next most important key is micronutrition. I would supplement to be well-nourished. Our recommendations are here: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?page_id=1066.

As Matthew suggests, the thing to focus on is not weight but appetite. As you add carbs, reduce omega-6, and improve micronutrition you should notice your appetite diminishing and your calorie needs being reduced. You want to find the nutrient mix that produces minimal appetite at minimal calorie intake. You should be able to fast easily and comfortably.

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a
1074 · December 17, 2012 at 1:03 AM

BE CAREFUL with dairy bc alot of ppl (esp overweight) suffer from leaky gut and often have dairy sensitivities. this can cause inflammation and stall weight loss/cause weight gain.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d
17949 · January 12, 2012 at 2:47 AM

Agree with you all, group hug! For now you need to go on a "Health-gain" diet AND lifestyle. Be as healthy as you can possibly be in every aspect, and then once you're feeling really good about everything adjust calories accordingly, if you even have to do it consciously.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051
15229 · January 12, 2012 at 1:00 AM

absolutely. i definitely find the the more nutrient dense my food choices, the longer i am satiated and the less i have to eat. i wish it was something people talked more about, generally. thank you, paul! great input as always.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4
9647 · January 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM

I want to second these points. After some experiences recently with getting better micronutrition for a while and then not getting it, I think that is a big part of hunger and appetite control (and therefore weight loss/body composition). Sometimes people talk about bone stocks and organ meats as fun little extras, but I think they are not at all. They should be smack dab in the center of the paleo/ancestral/human paradigm. You'll see a lot of contradictory advice on supplementation, but try magnesium for a while and see what happens. And maybe some other ones that Paul J recommends.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb
19220 · January 11, 2012 at 11:51 PM

Good points there.

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32518 · January 12, 2012 at 12:27 AM

I drop my fat intake significantly and try to eat mostly protein & carbs 3-4 days a week. It's working to drop that last couple of pounds of belly fat.

C7fa1bf712d466cf7e9f2a404d5f0e34
40 · January 13, 2012 at 10:28 AM

It's also working for me, and Travis gave me the idea initially too.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
32518 · January 12, 2012 at 11:40 PM

For sure. I do intense body-weight resistance work once a week and free style dance "sprints" once a week, plus LOTS of walking.

Medium avatar
39841 · January 12, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Do you do any resistance training/high intensity stuff? It makes a huge difference in how the body partitions energy that goes way beyond the calories burned during the activity itself.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
32518 · January 12, 2012 at 8:41 PM

And I think it works best for folks who have been eating Paleo/Primal for awhile & have their nutrition dialed in.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
32518 · January 12, 2012 at 8:40 PM

Travis, it *finally* made sense to me after the Rabbit starvation post. I still eat yolks on my "meat days", but dropping the cheese and other fat has made a HUGE difference.

Medium avatar
39841 · January 12, 2012 at 6:50 PM

That's funny, I've been hesitating to give that advice lately because it always causes a tedious row with certain factions. I'm glad it's working for you! Simply add back in yolks and beef fat when you hit your goal and maintenance should be easy.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
32518 · January 12, 2012 at 3:10 PM

And thanks to Travis for the idea!

Medium avatar
4
39841 · January 11, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Trade some of that fat for protein. Better satiety with protein than fat and a much better thermic effect (30% instead of 3%). Calorie counting is unsophisticated in general due to differences in satiety, diet-induced thermogenesis, etc. however if we're talking about net energy stored against net energy burned, of course that matters the most.

You'd have to be a big, burly dude to cut on that many calories a day.

Medium avatar
39841 · January 12, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Good thing about red meat is that you can only F it up so much with a feedlot. It's certainly worse than grass-fed, but it's way better than pork, chicken etc. Just eat more steak from whatever your best source is.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
32518 · January 12, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Check out www.eatwild.com

286a4ff7c362241c5c4b020df4972212
1288 · January 11, 2012 at 11:23 PM

Tough call but I think I would try eating more of the wal mart steaks and see if it helps -

273729a18d2f18903815d2644a4d64de
1683 · January 11, 2012 at 9:58 PM

sadly the only good quality steaks in my area run about 14/15 dollars a pound (17ish for bison) and any organic hormone/antibiotic grain fed still are running at like 12/13 a pound. it gets a little pricey for a college student :[ id rather buy a million eggs than give into wal-mart steaks

Medium avatar
39841 · January 11, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Eggs are kind of poor for satiety, but if you just find a cut of steak you like/can afford that has a *reasonable* amount of fat and build a diet around that, you'll experience way more satiety for much longer. There isn't really any such thing as a truly lean steak, so even if there is no visible fat such as with top round, there's still a fair amount of fat there.

273729a18d2f18903815d2644a4d64de
1683 · January 11, 2012 at 9:02 PM

yeah i did. i guess im going to be eating a LOT more eggs :D just found some grassfed livers for 5 bucks a pound...guess ill go get some of that too and learn to love it.

Medium avatar
39841 · January 11, 2012 at 8:58 PM

Did you read what I wrote about protein and satiety?

273729a18d2f18903815d2644a4d64de
1683 · January 11, 2012 at 8:53 PM

I'd have to be a big, burly dude to cut on that many calories? REALLY?! I guess I'm destined to be a big, burly dude because I'm almost always hungry. Awesome.

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1968 · January 12, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Being healthy does not automatically equal being ripped. You are clearly super healthy.

Are you eating too much? You seem to be doing great at the things you love and have plenty of energy. So, no, your calorie intake is fine. Sometimes you're hungry, but then you often fast for extended periods. I fast too. You will be hungry sometimes when you fast. That's like 1/2 the point. http://cavemantoday.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/you-will-be-hungry/ So I don't think the hunger is a sign of anything other than literally not eating very often. If I pound 3,000 calories today or 6,000, if I fast for 24 hours, I will get hungry. It won't kill me, but it's not like I won't feel anything.

Are you eating too many calories to be on the cover of In Shape? I don't know, but probably. Like I said, you're super healthy, not metabolically or hormonally broken, you manage to maintain at way more calories than me without that much more activity, so your body is really to be envied. This means that if you eat fewer calories, you'll lose fat for sure, but you'll be hungry (though you can lessen this with a high protein intake etc.), and you'll have less energy for extreme workouts and if you do it for too long, you might mess up that lovely smooth running machine that is your current metabolism.

Eating healthy food makes you healthy. Health does not necessarily mean shredded, and vis versa. I had a friend who was a boxer, he was ripped to pieces, but when he was cutting, he got the hangry (hungry-angry) like nobody's business, because he ate nothing but lean protein, but he melted what little fat he had in about five seconds.

You might also try cycling your carbs, as a lot of athletes do, which tends to lessen the hangry somewhat (there are good threads on it here).

But, my real advice? Don't be hangry. Just be healthy. You're doing awesome stuff. You're in great shape. You're in college. You're active. You have a social life. Enjoy it. You don't need to have 12% bodyfat. You just don't. Plenty of gorgeous successful people go on to live happy productive lives with 29% bodyfat.

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1968 · January 12, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Yeah, I hear you. Think of it like someone who's neat vs. OCD. Having a messy house/room makes me feel like I have a messy life and being neat makes me feel like I have a handle on life. But I don't want to be the kind of person who vaccuums three times a day and flips if someone walks in with their shoes on. So... balance.

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1683 · January 12, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Anxious and obsessive screwed me for sure...but that whole "being able to control what you eat" factor somehow made me feel better last year when I was having my little "what the hell am i doing with my future" crisis. ...ass growing is awesome...

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1968 · January 12, 2012 at 3:11 PM

also, nice job! i grew an ass recently, it was pretty awesome, i'm proud of it too :)

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1968 · January 12, 2012 at 3:10 PM

I totally understand, and you should go after the things you want, just don't be obsessive or anxious or beat yourself up about it, and don't do anything nuts (starve yourself, etc.) because you really are in great shape and it would suck to mess that up. Better to be in awesome shape when you're 19, with 29% body fat, than to be ripped at 19 and then fighting hormonal monsters in your 30's.

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1683 · January 12, 2012 at 3:07 PM

...I dont look super different because I still have a layer of fat covering up my muscular arms...I will say since lightening up about what I eat there is more definition to my shoulders (my male coworkers always comment on how big they are...and Im damn proud :]) and my legs have never looked better (neither has my booty...Ive been deemed the "hardest ass" by many friends. Thank you crossfit ;] :P). Its just getting rid of that fat around my stomach, back, and arms...I'd like more definition whether that is at 15%, 20%, OR 25%

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1683 · January 12, 2012 at 3:02 PM

"Hangry" I like that...a lot. :] Ive definitely gotten over the whole "I was 12% BF" thing. Last year I was constantly stressed, having a little bit of an internal crisis over student loans/future/what I want to do, and am always overly competitive so my 5'11" Latina soccer player friend didnt make me feel so wonderful because I was gaining weight and she looks amazing...but what can you expect from someone who is on Mexico's national team? I'd still like to lower my body fat, because I'm not satisfied with the way I look in my "girl clothes"....Ive made HUGE gains muscularly, but....

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623 · January 12, 2012 at 2:45 AM

@bill It is so not true before paleo I was doing p90x eating 1500 calories figuring i would lose wight. I didn't lose any weight until my coach said eat more. I didn't start losing until i was eating almost 3000 calories. The body is much more complicated then calories in calories out.

On paleo I eat when I am hungry and i lose about 2lbs a week on average but I have no idea how much I eat now. I would guess based on listening to Robb Wolf podcast that michelle is over training and is stressed (she may no notice it.) Cortisol is probably the culprit in not losing fat not eating 2500 calories with that activity level.

Just my 2 cents.

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10 · January 19, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Woah this blog is fantastic i love studying your posts. Stay up the good work! You know, a lot of people are searching round for this information, you could aid them greatly.

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1683 · January 19, 2012 at 2:47 PM

+1 for loving my profile and my million questions :D

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10 · January 13, 2012 at 12:24 AM

I'm in the same boat as Michelle -- in great shape but not ripped.

I latched onto the Paleo diet in Sept. 2010 and saw immediate results -- I dropped a few stubborn pounds to reach 10 or 11 percent body fat in only a few weeks.

Since then, I've made great strength and muscle gains, but remain at 10 or 11 percent body fat despite some intermittent fasting and paying closer attention to my caloric intake (~1800 on rest days, ~2800 on lift days).

I sleep about 9 hours a night, sometimes even 10 on the weekends.

As remarkable as this diet has been in the way I look, feel and perform, I'm beginning to think that reaching "ripped" status is reserved for the genetically gifted.

Not that people like Michelle or I will ever stop trying make the right tweaks here and there to attain "the look" :P.

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37187 · January 13, 2012 at 12:31 AM

That's the spirit!

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823 · January 12, 2012 at 5:55 AM

That's a fair amount of alcohol. It may not be the calories, but the alcohol can interfere with liver function, which can mess with metabolism. I'd encourage research into what happens to bodies when alcohol gets into them.

No judgement, and if you're having fun, go for it. I'm just sayin', it's something that can affect metabolism.

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594 · January 11, 2012 at 9:33 PM

For comparison: I'm 20, female, 5'5" and weigh 8 stone and 2 pounds. In the last week, according to Cronometer, I've averaged 1347 calories a day. The split is 45.7% calories from fat, 36.5% carbs and 17.8% protein. I've lost 4 pounds in the last week. I'm off college at the moment so I'm not that active and I've only done one kettlebell workout so far this week. To be honest though I don't find myself being that much hungrier when I've worked out. I don't eat much more during term time either (maybe 1600ish calories) and I workout three or four times a week and walk 4km to and from college every day. I should also point out that I don't go hungry. I had an 'eat everything day' this week where I was hungry all day and didn't seem to stop eating and I still only hit 1620 calories. I supposedly need 1923 calories a day to maintain my weight. I don't think that could be true. For most people a calorie restriction means a 500 calorie deficit a day, I don't think you're reaching that so I wouldn't say that calorie restriction isn't working for you.

Considering we are roughly the same age/height I would say your calorie intake is a bit high. Since your hunger seems to be a problem I would suggest that maybe there's a problem with leptin/insulin resistance? I don't really know enough about those things to say. However I used to have a hard time going more than a few hours without food. Reading "Mastering Leptin" sorted that out. Maybe look at that? Here's what Jack Kruse says about leptin, maybe follow his rules. Also something else I always recommend to people trying to lose weight is the iphone app pichealthy. It's a photo food diary, it makes a HUGE difference. I thought I was eating a pretty good diet when I started using it but it quickly became obvious I wasn't really! I've never been able to lose weight without it, definitely my secret weapon when it comes to weight loss!

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37187 · January 11, 2012 at 10:19 PM

@Michelle, I seriously broke the "first thing" rule and that's how I got so far into IF. My assessment is that I slowed the LR a little but it did work.

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 10:14 PM

sadly...most of my friends think "Chik-Fil-A" is healthy. i doubt that would ever work for my friends. some days i can go without food and be totally content. some days im ravenous and eat everything...my hunger is seriously bipolar. ive looked into kruse's reset, and tried it...i absolutely hated it. i can't eat according to his rules because I get sluggish after 50+ g. of protein and fat in the morning.

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37187 · January 11, 2012 at 9:19 PM

As always, YMMV. In my SAD-and-YOYO past, I tried counting calories (high-protein, low fat) and even 1500 was too few so I quit counting. 1000 calories per day was the norm then and that amount would have me on a binge within a week so I ate as little as I could but did't count and sometimes even lost weight in the short term.

One of the things that attracted me to ancestral eating was Mark Sisson's claim that I wouldn't be expected to count calories. At 8 months in, I haven't counted at all.

So far, so terrific but as you may already know I'm only about halfway in my fat loss so anything could happen as I continue. Based on accumulated expertise from past diets I'd give a rough estimate of 2000-2500 calories on many days and as little as 1000 on days when I'm not hungry. The best part is feeling free to eat more or less based on how I feel and what I do.

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 10:20 PM

My sister used the acronym SVP the other day... ...si vous plait.... as if I speak french....

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37187 · January 11, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Sorry, Your Mileage May Vary. I should know better than to use undefined acronyms but it's FUN! :-))

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Y.M.M.V?! whats this mean?! haha

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573 · January 11, 2012 at 8:44 PM

I don't think 2000-2500 calories is too much for you especially with the amount of exercise you do. I think it's probably enough to burn fat, but not to gain muscle (as you'd need to gain weight for that). That said, I'm no expert here so perhaps I'm wrong. I do think that most women underestimate how much they should eat though, which results in a surpressedd/adapted metabolism (so they maintain on less)

Personally, calories in/out have always been about right with me. I struggle with binging but even then my calorie estimates have been relatively accurate. I once kept a spreadsheet which calculated my daily "net" and cumulative calories (based on a basic daily burn of 1800, plus extra activities - even walking). When I had reached about 7500-8000 cumulative excess calories, I had gained a kg. When I lost some weight, it was all right on spot as well as long as the weighing was first thing in the morning with nothing too "bloating" eaten the night before.

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50 · December 16, 2012 at 10:39 PM

My personal Experience is that calories definitely DO matter, I tried to eat more fat and started by adding coconut oil, about 2-3 tbs a day and true I did still eat starches and 'some' gluten free grains, but even when I was highly active I still piled on 3 kg in a very short amount of time... And it was fat not muscle I've since been able to lose weight with calorie restriction, usually 1500 a day with Plenty of exercise, and paleo only foods The moral of the story is everyone is different?

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550 · January 13, 2012 at 12:41 AM

I'm reading Gary Taubes' Why We Get Fat book and the last 40 pages have been talking about how Calories-In/Calories-Out doesn't matter.

I know other PaleoHackers know more than I do about him, but I find his stuff both interesting and believable so far.

Want to lose fat? Eat more fat! :)

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610 · January 13, 2012 at 2:32 AM

Well calories in and out do matter. His stuff is kind of old news - its not all about insulin. Want to lose fat - eat more fat - not that simple. I think he is addressing those low fatties that eat enormous amounts of carbs. Just need to eat healthy fats, get rid of the PUFAs, eat your protein and lower those carbs to a level that suits your lifestyle.

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10 · January 12, 2012 at 7:34 PM

I also worked at a CrossFit gym and we had many people not losing weight due to not eating enough. With the right balance of food and exercise they lost weight.

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10 · January 12, 2012 at 7:23 PM

I just started eating really strict Paleo. I found that the portion control from the Whole 9 Whole 30 guide helps. The first few days I was tracking my food and targeting at least 1700 calories a day minimum. This was more of an effort on Paleo then I thought it would be (If I wasn't tracking I would consume 1300 or so). I have lost 5 lbs in 3 weeks doing this and have not started back on exercise yet but will this month.

I intentionally dropped exercise when I started paleo after reading a neurosurgeons report which basically said it makes the transition from carb dependence much harder if you are exercising. He suggested 2 weeks with no exercise (walking is fine), 2 weeks with weights, then a transition back to a normal workout routine.

I have had more success with this then when I tried to do Paleo while doing Crossfit. Of course I have the intent to return but I wanted my diet dialed in first.

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6709 · January 12, 2012 at 1:20 AM

Well, since your doing CF 5x/week. How has your progress been? Seriously?

How much has your 1RM on pullups, pushups, deadlifts, and squats gone up over the last 4,8,12 weeks?

If you went up significantly then its safe to say that your muscle mass increased and your bodyfat went down, making the scale utterly useless.

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1683 · January 12, 2012 at 5:40 AM

I'm consistently getting stronger...In March of 2011 I was 150 lbs and at 29% BF. In December I was (And still am) 155 at 28%...so the only change really was the fact that I gained muscle while my fat levels stayed constant.

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2486 · January 11, 2012 at 9:11 PM

It looks like your diet is fine, both in calories and macros. That makes me think there's some other area that is holding you back. How are your hormones- birth control pills or other hormonal wackiness? Also, you train a LOT, and this is coming from someone who trains a lot. Sleep? What steps do you take to manage and reduce stress?

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1288 · January 11, 2012 at 11:21 PM

For me I counted the cals and the carbs and the fat - nothing sifted the weight till I started to sleep better - I take pregaba it took about 2 wks but it was only after I got great sleep ( and I did not think I slept bad ) that the weight came off for me

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1683 · January 11, 2012 at 10:04 PM

I went on BC in the fall of 2010 when I came to school...that was the main reason I went from 139 pounds to 155 initially. I stopped BC last March and havent been on it since. When I started the Primal Bluepring and Crossfit I dropped to 147 then put it all back on in muscle. I dont really have a "stress management" routine...other than Crossfit. ;] Most nights I try to be in bed by 10(whether I actually SLEEP is another thing, Ive always had an active mind while trying to sleep), and Ill wake up around six

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6709 · January 12, 2012 at 12:45 AM

"Any of you every find calorie restriction to NOT work?!"

Oh yes, there are plenty of PaleoHackers on here who defy the laws of biology, physiology, thermodynamics and physics on a daily basis.

There are people on here who have fasted for 10 straight days on nothing but water, green tea, and coffee, and claim to have not lost a single pound of scale weight.

If in doubt, run in circles, scream AND shout!!

Calorie Restriction works 100% of the time. Period.

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3280 · January 12, 2012 at 4:30 AM

Whoa, that's a lot of unnecessary venom from Bill. I don't think the OP deserved that.

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713 · January 12, 2012 at 1:49 AM

Sorry, while the comment was not "nice," it's true. Your body's metabolism could slow down,etc,but if you burn off more calories then you consume, you will lose weight.

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37187 · January 12, 2012 at 12:59 AM

@Bill, I've had friends who couldn't lose on 1000 calories a day while I lost 2 pounds per week on 1500. We were similar size/age/weight and sat next to each other at work. Also equally sedentary. I can only agree if "calorie restriction" is defined differently by individual. And I think we both can be right if my gut wasn't absorbing nutrients as well as theirs.

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