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Do calories really matter?

by 1972 · November 07, 2012 at 11:14 PM

I kept counting calories when I started paleo but a month into it, I realize that I lose weight while eating paleo, even when I eat way too many calories. I can eat oats and rice too with the same effect. If I cheat and eat wheat though, I weigh a few lbs more the next day. Seems weird? Anyone else experience something like this? I am definitely not miscounting calories and eating less than I think. I will weigh everything and definitely over eat by a lot, because I will still be hungry.

Also, I'm not at all overweight. I'm 5'8 and my weight keeps between 125-130. Also, I am very active but I make sure I eat everything I burn. I'm not complaining about weight loss... Just surprised that I'm losing while over eating.

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4232 · November 07, 2012 at 01:49 PM

Calories do matter, but there are several other considerations: effects of inflammation, water retention after carbohydrates and the individual effects of certain foods on your individual metabolism. Most people do experience a sudden drop in weight the first one to two months as water weight sheds as a natural byproduct of either a. reducing carbs or b. improving the quality of carbs (again, whatever that means to your particular metabolism). And then we often see people hit a plateau of weight loss and then begin to wonder if paleo is "not working" for them after all.

Chalk it up, for now, to a settling-in phase -- you'll know through self-experimentation and self-hacking what works for you past the initial adjustment. Think of it as a way of eating from now on (as opposed to a "diet") and enjoy both the immediate gratification of water weight loss and the long-term effects of eating in a way that's ultimately better for you even past that number you're watching on the scale.

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2625 · November 07, 2012 at 04:23 PM

A caloric deficit matters for fat loss. You won't be able to lose stored fat unless you're running a deficit. That being said, counting absolute calories is basically useless because there's no way to determine what your exact caloric needs are. Even if you could, those needs vary constantly. You're far better off listening to your satiety signals (assuming you're not metabolically deranged), eating for variety, and maybe trying to approximate macro ratios.

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3180 · November 07, 2012 at 11:14 PM

In theory, the brain should account for every calorie, burning the excess as waste heat. That is how it works in 'normal' people. You know, the slim guy who can eat ice cream by the gallon and not get fat...

In reality, we are continually overnourishing ourselves and the brain loses sensitivity through excess stimulation. Many hormones in play here, leptin, ghrelin, melatonin, insulin, cortisol...how some people retain the ability while others lose it is the great mystery.

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905 · November 07, 2012 at 03:02 PM

I think link text is a very interesting post. I'm experiencing very much the same as you. I'm 5'10, 120lbs and have lost weight since I started paleo and actually cut my running by a lot. From my own personal experience there seems to be more to it than just calories. I have three daily meals and feel full all day (not counting calories though), despite this, I've lost at least 6-8lbs since I, more or less, stopped running and only continued doing some strength training at home. Surprisingly I haven't felt a noticable setback in my strength or endurance running.

How many calories do you consume per day? Can you post your daily meal plan?

Keep in mind that carbs will bind water which is probably the reason for why you weigh more after eating wheat.

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80 · November 07, 2012 at 10:35 PM

I balloon after eating wheat. It's mostly water retention for me.

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