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Do calories really matter?

by (1974)
Updated about 10 hours ago
Created November 07, 2012 at 1:41 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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1974 · November 08, 2012 at 3:01 PM

This makes sense. My body drfinitely doesn't have an inability to store excess energy. When I eat SAD I have to follow the normal rules to lose weight... No more than 1200 calories a day and all. On paleo though I don't need to. I wonder if it has something to do with the amount I run. On SAD I also feel weak if my weight gets low but that is not the case at all on paleo. I think a healthy body weight is probably much lower than we think of as healthy today. Maybe my body is just trying to get there.

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943 · November 08, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Interesting. Thank you for sharing.

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3180 · November 08, 2012 at 1:17 AM

I like to think of it as this: Your brain wants to keep important things within a narrow band - body temp, blood glucose, uric acid, and weight. Upsets in different systems upset these narrow bands.

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41341 · November 08, 2012 at 12:02 AM

Inability to store excess energy is normal?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46
41341 · November 08, 2012 at 12:01 AM

Counting calories provides a measure that enables one to easily adjust calorie intake according to weight control desires. If you don't count, how the heck do you know if you're eating less or more, particuarly if you don't eat the same thing day in and out.

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1974 · November 07, 2012 at 3:53 PM

I usually eat 2000 calories + what I burn (500ish calories) at least. Sometimes more. I feel like I should be at least maintaining weight on this. I started at 131 before paleo though and a month later am closer to 125. I prefer this weight but am still losing and confused! I also have noticed no effect on my running... I just PRed in a marathon with very little training. My workouts have been easy and great!

2e777bbcd49262eb31a24f821abec6bc
1974 · November 07, 2012 at 3:53 PM

thanks for the link and insight!The interesting thing is that wheat is the only carb that has this effect on me. Here is a typical day: B:smoothie with banana, berries, POM juice, shredded coconut Snack:greek yogurt and celery with nut butter L:huge salad with raw veggies and meat. Today for example I have lettuce and spinach, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, avocado, lots of taco meat. Im usually still hungry and eat fruit and nuts until full Snack: usually my cheat. hot chocolate + oatmeal or chocolate covered nuts etc Dinner:Some type of meat with sweet potatoes and veggies or with another salad

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2944 · November 07, 2012 at 2:14 PM

maybe you need more calories than you think you do?

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5 Answers

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4218 · November 07, 2012 at 1:49 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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2613 · November 07, 2012 at 4:23 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.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46
41341 · November 08, 2012 at 12:01 AM

Counting calories provides a measure that enables one to easily adjust calorie intake according to weight control desires. If you don't count, how the heck do you know if you're eating less or more, particuarly if you don't eat the same thing day in and out.

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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.

2e777bbcd49262eb31a24f821abec6bc
1974 · November 08, 2012 at 3:01 PM

This makes sense. My body drfinitely doesn't have an inability to store excess energy. When I eat SAD I have to follow the normal rules to lose weight... No more than 1200 calories a day and all. On paleo though I don't need to. I wonder if it has something to do with the amount I run. On SAD I also feel weak if my weight gets low but that is not the case at all on paleo. I think a healthy body weight is probably much lower than we think of as healthy today. Maybe my body is just trying to get there.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54
3180 · November 08, 2012 at 1:17 AM

I like to think of it as this: Your brain wants to keep important things within a narrow band - body temp, blood glucose, uric acid, and weight. Upsets in different systems upset these narrow bands.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46
41341 · November 08, 2012 at 12:02 AM

Inability to store excess energy is normal?

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943 · November 07, 2012 at 3:02 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.

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d
943 · November 08, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Interesting. Thank you for sharing.

2e777bbcd49262eb31a24f821abec6bc
1974 · November 07, 2012 at 3:53 PM

I usually eat 2000 calories + what I burn (500ish calories) at least. Sometimes more. I feel like I should be at least maintaining weight on this. I started at 131 before paleo though and a month later am closer to 125. I prefer this weight but am still losing and confused! I also have noticed no effect on my running... I just PRed in a marathon with very little training. My workouts have been easy and great!

2e777bbcd49262eb31a24f821abec6bc
1974 · November 07, 2012 at 3:53 PM

thanks for the link and insight!The interesting thing is that wheat is the only carb that has this effect on me. Here is a typical day: B:smoothie with banana, berries, POM juice, shredded coconut Snack:greek yogurt and celery with nut butter L:huge salad with raw veggies and meat. Today for example I have lettuce and spinach, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, avocado, lots of taco meat. Im usually still hungry and eat fruit and nuts until full Snack: usually my cheat. hot chocolate + oatmeal or chocolate covered nuts etc Dinner:Some type of meat with sweet potatoes and veggies or with another salad

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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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