Carb Counters - Am I doing something wrong?




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Kirjava
03-06-2010, 08:41 AM
Three weeks ago I started a low-carb diet. Since August I had lost 45lbs, but after having a poor loss and reading about low-carb recipes, I decided to give it a shot. I'm not on any specific plan; I just cut out cereals, breads, pastas, sugars, and fruit. The first week I had an incredible loss of 3.3lbs. The two weeks since then... 0.2lbs each week.

Last week my meals were scrambled eggs with bacon and a plain yogurt for breakfast, homemade spinach chicken burgers for lunch and dinner, and either a hard-boiled egg or two slices of bacon as snacks (two snacks a day).

This week, my breakfasts were cheese/spinach/egg/ham crustless pie, half a sausage and 1 1/2 cups broccoli for lunch, and turkey thigh and 1 cup peas for dinner, with either a hard boiled egg, half a sausage, or two slices of bacon as snacks (two snacks a day).

Two weeks ago I also started going to the gym and doing strength training like the leg press and lifting 5-10lb hand weights. I go three times a week and spend about 30 minutes. I'm not sure if that has any bearing on the poor losses, because surely I'm not putting on any muscle weight yet.

Is this just an expectable plateau, or do any of you see something I'm doing incorrectly that I can fix to get back into normal losses? I'm debating whether to ditch the low-carb and go back to regular calorie counting. If I do go back to carbs, would I probably gain in the first week or two?


giselley
03-07-2010, 01:26 AM
I have a friend on a low carb diet who continually swears he's strict about the diet, and yet I see he's got high carb, sugary breakfast bars and goes out for restraunt food and drinks alcohol. He then claims he can't understand why the scale never moves.

I personally think you need to be very strict about low carb diets. Anything over 30 grams of carbs (depending on the person) and you sometimes will gain weight, let alone "not lose." First off, I saw "peas." Peas are not acceptable as low carb, nor are beans (I think green beans are okay), nor are corn, carrots, or beets. Is there any sugar in the bacon? Sausage and ham also sometimes have sugar in them. Best to eat "fresh" meat only, not prepared. Yogurt was not allowable on Atkins, cheese was okay but needed to be watched, the burgers had no buns right? What are you drinking? No milk? No juice? No pop?

Why not get a plan book and do the plan. You will find that (in the Atkins book for example) there is a very fine line between losing and gaining weight. Just one gram of carbs over and your weight loss will stall. My only idea re: you post is that you are getting a few grams over somewhere, and you need to really look at what you are eating. You need to get a carb counter type book and keep under the 30 or so grams per day.

kaplods
03-07-2010, 02:00 AM
There are a lot of possible pitfalls (some geselley mentioned).

Most folks don't have to count calories if they're counting carbs and keeping their carbs under a specific level (for some folks that might be 20 carbs, for someone else it might be 150, by some definitions both would still be considered low or at least reduced carb diets). Some folks do have to count calories, no matter how low they reduce carbs. I have to account for both and carbs (I use an exchange plan to controll both), because I can maintain my weight on even on 20 to 30 carbs. I've been told it "shouldn't be possible" to maintain on Atkins Induction level, but I have - I suspect because ultimately calories do matter, and overeating is still overeating. Low-carb tends to reduce hunger, but overeating even fat/protein can result in lower or no weight loss. It takes more calories to do it, but even without carbs, for example taking in 10,000 calories in a day probably isn't going to result in weight loss, no matter how low the carb total for the day.

Most folks lose faster on low carb plans than equal calories on a higher plan, and some folks see little or no difference.

In general, low-carbers carry around less water weight. I don't say water-retention, because that implies more water than "normal," and I suspect that the body just requires more fluids to process high-carb foods - so it's not abnormal to carry a little more water when you're eating a moderate to high-carb diet. It's just a different normal, than if you're eating low-carb (but a transition you will have to expect when or if you transition back to higher carb eating).

As to your diet, the peas are a bit of a warning flag, because they're quite starchy. On my exchange plan, 1 cup of peas is counted as two starch servings - equivalent to two pieces of white bread. I limit myself to two starch exchanges daily (and try to make better whole food choices, so peas would be a far better choice than two pieces of white bread, but still would be the upper limit of starchy foods for my entire day).

That may or may not be an issue for you. Some folks also tend to lose in wooshes (either always or on some plans), so they may lose nothing for three weeks and then lose a bundle on the fourth week - this might be an ongoing pattern and just "normal" for that person or that person on a particular diet.

I tend to "whoosh" more on low-carb than on higher carb diets. Even though I lose faster on low-carb, it sometimes seems slower because I'll have no loss, no loss, no loss - good loss, rather than consistent small losses.

For me, even a small loss is a good loss. Years of dieting and other issues have done weird things to my metabolism. I can maintain my weight on fewer calories than I ever would have thought possible (my younger self would accuse my now self of being a big, fat ol' liar, but I really am eating half of what once would have resulted in HUGE losses. Just tough luck for me, I guess).

I know I haven't given much practical advice, but I really think there are a lot of differences among people, so the only advice that applies equally for everyone is to continue to experiment (give each experiment a few weeks though, because coincidence and normal fluctiations can wreak havoc on an experiment shorter than 5 to 6 weeks. You can assume a food plan is a faulty one, when normal weight fluctuations are obscuring the "true" results.


Kirjava
03-07-2010, 10:35 AM
Thank you both for the advice!

I'll drop the peas. I did see that they had a higher carb count than broccoli or spinach, but I thought carbs from green vegetables were "good" carbs. Thanks for setting me straight.

The bacon I'm eating is just bacon. No maple flavouring or anything like that. All my meat, however, is out of its original packaging and in vacuum packs, so I can't check nutritional information to be sure there isn't something else. It's possible that there was some sugar in it and my sausage.

All I drink is water and black tea. The yogurt I was having for breakfast is the same yogurt I was having the first week I lost 3.3lbs. It was plain yogurt so it had only a carb count of 3grams per the three or four tablespoons I was eating in the mornings.

Prior to being on this low-carb diet, I was losing 0.8-2.6lbs a week, aside from the rare week when I had a poor loss. This is the first time I've had two bad losses in a row, so I'm not so sure I should stick with low-carb. The fact that going a couple carbs over can totally blow a whole week scares me, when in calorie counting I have a bit more leeway.

If I go back to eating cereals, breads, and pastas after these three weeks, will I balloon up for the first week or two? It's possible low-carb is not the plan for me.

kaplods
03-07-2010, 11:47 AM
Thank you both for the advice!

I'll drop the peas. I did see that they had a higher carb count than broccoli or spinach, but I thought carbs from green vegetables were "good" carbs. Thanks for setting me straight.

Some folks lose fine on "good carb" plans, others find good carbs nearly as counterproductive as bad carbs. Fruit, for example really messes me up, if I'm not careful. It triggers the blood sugar/insulin spike that results in hard-to-resist-overeating trigger.



Thank you both for the advice!
The bacon I'm eating is just bacon. No maple flavouring or anything like that. All my meat, however, is out of its original packaging and in vacuum packs, so I can't check nutritional information to be sure there isn't something else. It's possible that there was some sugar in it and my sausage.


Bacon, ham, smoked sausages and other smoked meats, often are cured with sugar (maple flavoring would be fine, as long as it had no sugar). Because salt can masquerade the sweet taste, it's difficult to know how much sugar is in there. The bacon probably is less the problem than the sausage - because sausage often contains cereal fillers.

Also both of these contain a LOT of sodium, which can again cause water weight gain. As can beginning any exercise program. Even relatively small changes, can result in the body holding on to more water - as it's needed for tissue repair. Any "new" stress on the muscle, causes minor damage to the muscle. This small amount of damage is good, because it triggers muscle repair and new muscle building, but this process causes minor inflammation, and also uses more water (temporarily).

It's very possible that the combination of saltier meats and new exercise is causing the water retention and lower losses, not the low-carb eating. This is why a lot more than two weeks is required to see a difference. You also can't count any one or two week's loss and learn anything. It's definitely too soon to decide that low-carb isn't for you, as the exercise and salt are just as likely to have caused the reduced loss.


All I drink is water and black tea. The yogurt I was having for breakfast is the same yogurt I was having the first week I lost 3.3lbs. It was plain yogurt so it had only a carb count of 3grams per the three or four tablespoons I was eating in the mornings.


The first week of low-carb results in quite a bit more weight loss from the extra water loss. And in ANY plan, you can't assume that your diet and exercise changes will be seen immediately on the scale. What you do this week, may not be seen on the scale for several weeks. You've also made so many changes, that you can't tell yet what's responsible for what, or that hormonal and other normal weight fluctuations aren't involved.



Prior to being on this low-carb diet, I was losing 0.8-2.6lbs a week, aside from the rare week when I had a poor loss. This is the first time I've had two bad losses in a row, so I'm not so sure I should stick with low-carb. The fact that going a couple carbs over can totally blow a whole week scares me, when in calorie counting I have a bit more leeway.

You've been on low-carb three weeks and have lost 3.7 lbs in three weeks. That's 1.23 lbs per week. You really have to count it THAT way, not focusing on the two weeks of no losses. You didn't "totally blow a whole week."

Weight loss slows down as you lose weight, because you're burning fewer calories. 2.6 lbs per week, probably isn't going to happen again. And the .8 or less is more likely at your current weight. So, it's very possible that if you had been on calorie counting, you would have lost the .8 or less each of those weeks - that would have been a 2.4 lb loss.

Is it really more important foor you to lose more than .2 lbs per week than it is to lose weight faster, overall but have more smaller weeks? Also, there's no way to know whether you would have had two small consecutive losses on calorie counting also.

I don't think you can assume that you have more leeway in calorie counting, because the increase in salt and exercise, and the fact that you're so much closer to goal weight, are each and together just as likely (much more likely, actually) than the "low-carb."


If I go back to eating cereals, breads, and pastas after these three weeks, will I balloon up for the first week or two? It's possible low-carb is not the plan for me.

You are going to see the water gain, I mentioned earlier. How much, I couldn't say. It is possible that low-carb isn't the plan for you, but you haven't given it much of a trial, so at this point, you can't be sure of that by the results.

I suspect that calorie counting would not have yeilded any better results, overall. 3.7 lbs in 3 weeks is awesome, especially with how little you have left to lose. That you've never had two small losses consecutively (especially preceded by a huge loss), is a miraclulous coincidence in my opinion. I suspect that lower losses are going to be an issue this close to goal, regardless of the food plan you're on.

I would encourage you to give low carb more time. There are many plans that you might enjoy, and I recommend highly the book The Low-Carb Bible by Elizabeth M. Ward. It reviews and explains several reduced carb plans.

Kirjava
03-07-2010, 02:24 PM
Thank you, that's all extremely helpful advice. And I know what you mean about trying so many new things at once. I really don't know if I would have done better on calorie counting these weeks, or if working out has caused me to retain water, or if I'm having too much sodium, or what.

Only five weeks ago and before, I was pulling off larger losses like 2.3 or 2.1 a week, at least twice a month. I know my loss is bound to slow down as I get closer, but aside from the odd bad week, it hasn't seemed to slow down too terribly. You are right to point out that everaging out of my loss over the three weeks of low-carb sounds good, and as silly as it sounds, I probably would not be concerned at all right now if I had lost 1.23 each week. I'm not accustomed to only losing 0.2, let alone two weeks in a row.

I'm giving myself one more week on low carb. No bacon this week. My meat will be chicken breasts, my vegatables broccoli, spinach, and tomatoes, my snacks hard boiled eggs. I still have more of the crustless pie with egg, spinach, ham, and cheese left, so I have to finish that off for breakfasts, but I think the only issue there is that the ham could have sugars, and there's sodium in the cheese. There's not much ham or cheese per slice, though.

If I have a third bad week in a row, I'll just conclude that low carb is not a good fit for me. I guess the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is apt, because I decided to go low carb for a boost in weight loss, forsaking a plan that had been working just fine since August. Thank you once again for all of the help and advice. You've clarified a lot for me and educated me on some things I didn't know about the foods I was eating!

Sammyann
03-11-2010, 08:25 AM
I would definately not discount the impact of starting to exercise. I just started exercising this past week and gained 3 lbs! I always gain when I exercise. I did however loose inches. Do you measure yourself? If I hadn't measured I'd have been really discouraged.

Catmandu
04-22-2010, 09:33 AM
I have been told that when we start exercising that muscles hold onto some of the water in our bodies at first, this could explain your "gain" if that's true. Sammyann is right, measuring is really the way to gauge or the way your clothes are fitting.

guttergirl78
04-22-2010, 09:52 AM
I county carbs (less than 80 a day) and I count calories. So far it's been working for me (i'm a daily weigher and will update tomorrow, but I know I"ve lost more than a few pounds this last week). I also pay special attention to my vitamin intake. I don't get enough potassium even with a daily vitamin so I make sure I take additional supplements. Your body can't function properly if it's lacking something. I use fitday to track my calories, carbs and my vitamins.

Your lack of a big loss could be from the time of the month, how much sodium you took in the day before, your "bathroom habits" etc.