Weight Loss Support - Is it really as simple as calories in vs calorie out?

11-02-2010, 04:37 PM
I am wondering because I have been tracking in fitday, alongside WW for a few days. I am a little concerned because I am pretty heavy on carbs (especially today at 69%). Albeit, they are good carbs (whole grain oatmeal and fruits). But, I am wondering if I am consuming too many carbs?..... even though they are good carbs. Will this hurt my weight loss? Or is it really as simple as calorie in vs. calorie out? Thoughts?

11-02-2010, 04:40 PM
it is.

like your dog. is it springer?

Arctic Mama
11-02-2010, 04:43 PM
In the strictest sense, the science of what causes a pound to be lost or gained is an energy equation thar does not vary in any statistically significant way. The rate at which we can expend that amount of energy and the things that trigger our bodies to store it vary, but not the math, itself.

Some people find themselves more sensitive to certain foods or macronutrient categories, but that doesn't generally cause them to gain weight by itself, but rather triggers biochemical feedback in their brains and systems that makes it harder to control their appetites, kicks fat storage into high gear or causes inflammatory responses. All these things will show as fluctuations on the scale and difficulties with our eating, but it doesn't change what a calorie and a pound are - units of energy and energy stored.

Arctic Mama
11-02-2010, 04:45 PM
Most people, by the way, are not excessively sensitive to carbohydrates. You see a high proportion of them on this board because we are people who have weight control issues and therefore are forced to examine our eating more carefully and investigate what works and doesn't work. Most people never have to, because no major weight issues emerge. Even among the morbidly obese, without serious insulin issues many of us do just fine with simple carbohydrates like fruit and unrefined complex carbohydrates like whole grain breads, brown rice, barley, quinoa, etc etc.

11-02-2010, 05:07 PM
For me it makes a difference, if I hit over 40% carbs no weight loss, but if I go under 35% I lose weight. That's just how it works for me but I have PCOS and am insulin resistant.

11-02-2010, 05:07 PM
1500 calories of cheesecake or 1500 calories of vegetables, chicken, and brown rice - if 1500 calories if your deficit, then in theory yes, you will still lose weight.

Now, one of those will give you a wide range of nutrients and have a good balance of protein, carbs, and fats to support a wide variety of positive things for the body (muscle preservation, reduced cholesterol, etc).

Yup, not the cheesecake.

This is why you have "skinny fat" girls - low weight but high body fat and poor health. You can be 5'5 and 100lbs eating a diet of doritos and chocolate milk, but you aren't going to be healthy.

^^^ Now this applies to "the norm" - some people do have legit medical conditions so none of this can be stated across the board for ALL people.

11-02-2010, 05:07 PM
CherryPie: the dog is a Brittany and thank you.

11-02-2010, 05:07 PM
It is more than just calories in vs calories out. If you don't eat nutritious foods, your body will hang on to more. 69% is really too many carbs, especially if these are simple carbs. The ideal goal for a balanced diet is about 50% carbs, 25% protein and 25% fat.

Fruit is not a simple carb, it is a complex carb. Simple carbs are processed carbs like sugar, flour, and things of that nature. Love those 100-calorie packs - simple carbs. Popcorn - whole grain.

11-02-2010, 05:21 PM
I try not to eat simple carbs, nothing white. No white rice, white bread, potatoes, etc.

I do eat complex. Whole grain oatmeal, whole wheat bread products, quinoa, etc.

Can you still eat too many complex carbs to be a detriment?

11-02-2010, 05:22 PM
and I eat veggies and fruit...don't forget about them.

11-02-2010, 05:25 PM
Beerab: how do you keep your carbs so low?

Arctic Mama
11-02-2010, 05:27 PM
Quilter: This is a common misconception - starches are NOT simple carbs, they are complex carbs. Fruit sugars are simple carbohydrates. It is a chemical structure, not a measure of how good or bad the food is :lol:

Here's a link that explains it fairly simply:

11-02-2010, 05:28 PM
I'm of the opinion that a calorie is a calorie. Complex carbs (wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal) are staples of my diet. I eat significant amounts of carbs and protein. Carbs get a bad rap, but they are essentual sources of energy. Slow burning carbs will keep you full and will regulate body sugar. Limit simple carbs and sugar just because those spike your blood sugar and will give you a "crash".

69% from carbs might too high just because you need protein and some fats for optimal health.

11-02-2010, 05:28 PM
Beerab: how do you keep your carbs so low?

Rather than keeping carbs "low" (30-40% is balanced), think about ways you can increase your protein and fat intake.

11-02-2010, 05:29 PM
Quilter- fruits are considered simple because they are comprised of the simple sugar, fructose (but they do contain massive fiber which helps slow the breakdown/absorption of the sugar-- provided the fruit is eaten whole. And i also have to raise a stink about making a blanket statement that the "ideal" macro--nutrient ratio breakdown is applied universally. I agree that 69% is a lot of carbs (unless the OP was an endurance athlete!)

11-02-2010, 05:30 PM
For example- nachos. I love nachos. So, I have a small serving of corn tortilla (the carb) and make sure to get a serving of guacamole with it (avocado - essential fat). Grilled chicken with it = all the better! Now you've got protein and a real meal, rather than just the carb of nachos.

Arctic Mama
11-02-2010, 05:31 PM
I do better with balance as well, Sacha :)

11-02-2010, 05:34 PM
Well, might as well throw my 2 cents in!!

Yes, it ultimately comes down to calories in vs. calories out, but I myself find that even restricting calories quite a bit does considerably less than restricting calories while doing low-carb. If I eat too many carbs and don't get enough protein, I will just maintain or stall. If I keep consistent with low-carb and high-protein, I will consistently lose. It all comes down to the different nuances of our bodies and what works the best for you.

11-02-2010, 05:54 PM
Beerab: how do you keep your carbs so low?

Like Sacha says- it's more about where can I add in more proteins and good fats.

Here's a sample menu, today was actually a bit higher carb for me than normal, I basically cut out all bread type products except for breakfast I have something so I don't go nuts. I fell off track but have gotten back on the past week.

Oroweat 100% whole wheat bagel
Hard Boiled Egg
Laughing Cow Light Creamy French Onion 1 wedge
273 calories, 34 grams of carbs
(normally I buy whole wheat sandwich thins but they were out last week at the grocer so normally my carbs are around 28 grams.

Split pea soup with ham (homemade)
Romaine, cucumber, tomato salad with full fat balsamic vinaigrette
580 calories, 72 grams carbs (peas are high carb but I love them- vegetable soup can be sub'd for less carbs/calories)

Lean Steak (6oz marinated with some onions and balsamic vinegar and worchestire sauce)
grilled green beans in olive oil and garlic
300 calories, 10 grams carbs.

Sausage deli bites
90 calories, 0 carbs

This is about 1225 calories for the day and 118 grams of carbs, this comes to 38% carbs but if I were to use my other bread it'd go down a little and if I were to eat a vegetable soup instead of pea soup it'd also go down. I usually try to get around 100 grams of carbs per day. I follow the South Beach diet, basically a phase 1.5ish where I still keep my carbs limited but I do eat more than phase 1- I like to eat my carbs with protein in the morning :)

Instead of sandwiches turn them into soups or salads :) My dinner is always meat with some sort of veggies, I don't eat potato anymore but I will have some sweet potato now and then. I always eat protein for breakfast, I don't eat oatmeal or cereal (rarely will I have cereal).

Also some other snacks I have are devilled eggs, peanut butter with celery, cauliflower or carrot sticks with some ranch, etc. Google "low carb snacks" a lot comes up.

I also only cook with olive oil and I enjoy a lot of avocado. My lunch tomorrow is sliced cucumbers that I top with tuna salad that has avocado and onion and lemon juice and some hot sauce- sooo good! The cucumbers take place of crackers/bread and give me that crunch I like :)

BTW I love those low carb tortillas from La Tortilla factory- so yum! They have small and large ones and sometimes when I want wraps I'll get the small ones.

11-02-2010, 07:34 PM
Yes, it's simply a matter of calories in, and calories out BUT (and it's a very big but) the problem lies in determining the calories out part of the equation. The way most people mean "calories in calories out," or "a calorie is a calorie" is to assume that the calories out portion of the equation is unchanging - as if only calories in really mattered, because calories out are assumed to hold constant (which for many people doesn't seem true at all).

Calories in, calories out does not mean you will lose equally well on 1500 calories of candy and potato chips as on 1500 calories of broccoli and chicken breast (even if you're carefully documenting and know that you're not exceeding 1500 calories). You might lose the same, but you might not, and the secret lies in the calories out (which you only have indirect control over - you can choose to exercise more, but you can't choose to use more or less energy during automatic processes like breathing, body temperature, respiration, digestion...).

There are a lot of ways the equation can be affected. At first, I suspected that because low-carb controls my hunger better, I was just eating fewer calories. High-carb eating makes me hungrier and more prone to bingeing. If that were all, it would still be a powerful argument for low-carb eating. However there's more the equation.

Even when I'm religiously documenting my calories, I STILL lose more on low-carb than on the same calories of high carb. I do have more energy though, and so I'm more likely to exercise, and more likely to be more active. Again, if that were all, it would still be a pretty good reason for me to follow low-carb.

I've also found through my health journals that my body temperature is closer to normal when I eat low-carb (I tend to run low). I'm normally at least a full degree or two below normal. If I'm not eating low-carb by body temperature never exceeds 98 degrees unless I'm sick. Maintaining a higher body temperature burns more calories, so this could be a sign that I burn more calories on low-carb than high-carb.

When I was younger, I didn't notice as large a discrepancy (but I never really gave low-carb diets much of a chance). From what I've read, insulin resistance seems to increase the discrepancy.

Even though the weight loss equation is complicated, it doesn't mean weight loss has to be. If you use a food journal (especially if you also are logging other health variables like energy level, mood, exercise/activity level, sleep quality, body temperature).... you can learn alot about how specific foods affect you. You don't have to document all of that, just what you want to learn about. If you don't really care about the other stuff, you can also just keep cutting calories until you find a level that allows you to lose weight. Or you can experiment and see what ways of eating you find most acheivable and most affective (not only for weight loss but for other issues you may be concerned with).

Even though the variables are complex, the process really isn't. Write down what you eat, and see what happens. Look for patterns (just realize many patterns take months to develop. You can't determine much by days, or even weeks on a specific diet, because those patterns can be misleading. What you might think is diet could be TOM or other body rhythms, or just coincidence).

11-02-2010, 08:36 PM
From what I've read and come to understand, your body burns carbs before it burns fat. If that's true, then logically eating less carbs means your body moves on to burning your fat stores quicker then it would if you're eating more carbs.

11-02-2010, 10:41 PM
Here's the big thing: don't be afraid to experiment. I feel better on lower carb/lower fat/high protein. I tried a lot of things before I found that combination.

Experimenting does mean eating outside your comfort zone. Most of us have a couple dozen foods we eat all the time. Those couple dozen foods clearly weren't working for me--they pushed me up to 300 pounds! I spent/spend so much time trolling the internet and the grocery store looking for new foods to shift my macro nutrients into new combinations.

just keep swimming
11-02-2010, 10:46 PM
I've been pretty successful with just counting calories so far, but I am curious about low carb diets. Do you have to do the "induction" part (Atkins terminology, I think), or can you just start eating lower carb?

My Michelle
11-03-2010, 07:43 AM
Just Keep Swimming (too funny, that's my motto!): Yes, you can just reduce your carb levels, you don't have to go all out with induction. Just restricting things that are high glycemic carbs works for me...

11-03-2010, 10:55 AM
Yes, experiment to find out what works for you. Asking the question about carbs means your curious, so try to lower your carbs and see if it helps.

*For me* I eat on the lower carb end of things because it helps me to not have cravings. When I only watch my calories and not anything else I find myself always thinking of food and never really satisfied. *I* also lose faster watching carbs. I truly believe it is not always just a cals in cals out thing. There are many people on Atkins and other low-carb plans and they lose enormous amounts of weight and do not count calories, only carbs. I need a little more flexibility than that so it is not the program for me but I did learn a lot from the books.

11-04-2010, 04:06 PM
I lost over 149 pounds and I tell you ALL I DID WAS COUNT CALORIES, and exercise.

I have tried everything else, and nothing worked other than making sure I exert more energy (calories) than I take in (calories)

11-04-2010, 04:32 PM
It is, but you have to consider other things too, like sodium and grams of fat and sugar