I've been trying (mostly successful) to do strict Paleo eating for 2 months. I have not lost any serious weight (maybe 2 pounds) and would like to lose somewhere in the 50-60 lb. range. I am 64 y/o, 5'10" tall and current weight is 250. I see lots of posts that state that you don't need to worry about calories but yet, there has to be some way to gauge how many calories would be a good number for weight loss. Any ideas? And, what are your opinions on portion sizes? I feel good and have no major health issues other than being too heavy. All help/advice appreciated.
What I typically suggest for someone new to calorie counting is to use a free site like Fitday or Livestrong to track your calories for at least a week, maybe two. Keep eating like you have been during the initial tracking period, then drop the calories by 10-20% and you should start seeing a loss.
The reason why most posts tell you not to worry about calories is because when you go paleo, your body will tell you when you've had enough.
Try eating a couple of lb's of meat or 2000 calories of salad, I dare you. Even if you manage to do it, your body will not be happy with you
As to why you haven't been losing weight, we need to know what a typical day is like for you. You probably need to go VLC to lose weight.
we'd need to know more about your general health, what youve been eating, how you've gotten to be overweight, are you male or female, etc.
And forget the notion that calories do not count. That is nonsense. Calories count and no matter what a diet is labeled, the laws of thermodynamics still apply. This is accepted by all authorities on the subject.
However, as a place to start, firstly cook all your food. Period. All of it. Then, track your caloric intake using an online counter. I used to use fitday but now i use livestrong. Much better I think.
Then you might have an idea of how many calories you are indeed taking in. Its very important to have at least an idea. Many people undereat and don't know it. Of course many people don't realize the caloric density of a ribeye or a bag of nuts, either.
From there you can tinker with the macro-ratios while keeping the same caloric-intake; you could lower cals in general; you could increase cals on workout days, etc. Obviously you could do anything, but at least you'll have an idea where you're at.
Keeping track of what you eat is crucial. Its like using a map for driving. If you don't track what you re eating, later on you will not be able to look back and see what type of eating has worked and what has not.
Welcome to the boards.
You COULD count calories, weigh your food, restrict portions, monitor you calories on the computer, tinker with macro-nutrients or.... you can just eat, and have a life. Eat high-fat/ moderate protein and eat till your full. If you are full (esp with paleo food choices) you won't eat again till your hungry. Add some walking a maybe a respectable lifting program tailored for your age/ability and be sure to get plenty of sleep.
If our paleo diet is not giving you the weight loss you expect, I would go to a very low carbohydrate level, say under 25g /day, and avoid fruit, nuts and dairy. Then, if that is working, you can try introducing some of those foods back later.
"Don't need to worry about counting calories" does not equal overeating.
I think that it is good to feel a little hungry between meals and definitely not "stuffed" when eating if your goal is to lose weight, even with paleo.
Paleo just sets the metabolic environment up so that you don't have to get crazy with counting, weighing, and measuring every bite.
However, if you don't have a high degree of physiological sensitivity, which can be the case if you were eating tons of SAD food and if you have a large amount of bodyfat, some tracking via a pen and paper, an online food log, or a phone app could really help.
If you weight 250lbs, you could shoot for around 2000-2500 calories per day and will likely be in a nice deficit without feeling starved. You didn't mention anything about exercise, but the combination of "long and low", long duration low intensity activities like walking, and "short and sweet", short duration high intensity activities like a crossfit workout, will help turn up the fat burning heat.
Not everyone loses weight just by switching to paleo, unfortunately. It worked great for me (lost 35 lbs., BMI now 22), but some people need to control various aspects of their diet more specifically than just eating freely from the "paleo approved" list. That probably has to do with how severely your metabolism is damaged from when you were eating SAD.
If you post what you actually eat in this or another question, then it would be possible to give more detailed suggestions.
If you use the RMR calculator you will see the following estimate:
BMR & RMR Results:
The results of your calculations are: BMR 2,082 RMR 1,930 (calories)
This is just an estimate. However if you do track calories then it is a good starting point.
Set you calory goal 100 above your RMR to 2030 or even it out to 2100 for calories to consume and loose weight. However if you have a desk job with no exercise you can only about 2300 calories without gaining weight... If you walk etc any calories that day can be consumed without gaining weight as well..
So for the case of desk job the diffrence of 2300-2030 = 270 calories a day diffrence.
270 cal X 7 days / week is equal to 1890 calorie defict for the week. You need to burn 3500 calories to lose one pound so that would be 0.5 lbs /week or 2 lbs a month. 24 lbs a year.
If you burn an extra 100 calories a day in exercise or activity then the numbers look:
2590 deficit / week or 3/4 lbs per week...3lbs/month. 36 lbs a year
It is very worth it and you can do it for sure.
Also need at least 7 hours sleep / night.
I use www.mynetdiary.com to provide a baseline. Put in your current weight, your goal weight, and how long you want to take to achieve your goal. It will tell you how many calories per day to target in order to achieve that goal. If it is too far underneath your BMR (as in Eric's answer), you will see that you need to move the target date for your goal. Then I would suggest what others have suggested: track your food intake for a couple of weeks to see how many calories you are really eating every day. Everyone is different, so the number of calories you're predicted to need might be a little off, but it should give you a good starting point. I lost 40 pounds (almost 25% of my body weight) doing this.
I myself find that portion control doesn't work. There are days that I can eat a lot of food, and days where I am not very hungry at all. It depends on how active I am, the time of the month, etc. It also depends on what I'm eating. If I'm eating a lot of fruit, honey and dairy, then my weight loss stalls. If I stop exercising for a while, it stalls too.
But I don't count calories in the traditional sense. I try to balance out high-fat protein sources with lower fat ones, and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables so as not to get into a food routine. I also find that the more protein I eat, the less hunger I have. There are days where I eat five times a day and days where I only eat once - and being active is the key.
If you're eating strict paleo, it's a good time to start introducing exercise - which is key - if you're not doing it already. Hiking and long walks helped kick start the weight loss for me.
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