South Beach Diet - SBD vs. calorie counting

View Full Version : SBD vs. calorie counting

03-02-2011, 10:10 PM
Has anyone gone from calorie counting to south beach (or vice versa)? What was your experience, pros/cons of each, etc?

I'm currently counting calories, which I like for one simple reason: there is nothing "off limits." While I generally eat pretty well, I like knowing that if I really want a cookie, I can have a cookie. However, I don't feel like this is something that I can keep up forever. It's mentally draining to worry about every single calorie that I'm going to put in my mouth. I much prefer the idea of just eating sensibly and being smart about it, but not counting.

The problem is, I've tried the "eating sensibly" method and I don't lose weight. I'm cursed with a practically non-existent metabolism from years of untreated/mis-diagnosed thyroid issues. Even strictly limiting to 1200 a day (in addition to intense workouts 5-6 days a week), I'm barely losing.

90% of the carbs in my diet come from fruit and dairy--I've never been much of a bread or pasta person, and even then, it has always been whole grain. So I don't feel like this would be something that it too limiting for me. I worry a little about giving up fruit for two weeks, but I think I can mange it for that long since I know they get to come back.

I'm just looking to get some input from people who've had success with this over calorie counting, or the other way around. Do you find one or the other works better for you, is easier/harder to stick with, leads to more weight loss, etc. Any input is much appreciated! I want to make sure I've done all of my research before I dive in. Thanks so much!

03-02-2011, 10:52 PM
First thing right off, I strongly suggest that you read the book (amazon, bookstore, library - it's everywhere!).

As for personal experience, I can count calories (or points or whatever) until the cows come home but it won't work for me! I can't eat food that makes me want more and more food. I can't be healthy when I put bad carbs into my body. I'm down over thirty pounds from my high weight and I don't feel deprived at all. I have made some big changes to my routine, though. The biggest is cooking - not fast foods, frozen dinners and candy. Now that I'm cooking again I am losing the weight and getting healthier.

I remember when I used to count calories and I was like "hmmm . . . for 1500 calories I could have a KitKat, Peanut M&Ms, three Pinwheel cookies, a bagel and cream cheese and one celery stalk!" For me, it comes down to the "what" I eat is as important as the "how much" I eat.''

It is a bit concerning that you can eat 1200 calories a day and workout so intensely. I know other women have had that problem but I'm no expert so I'll let someone else speak to that!

There is nothing wrong with counting cals or points, in and of itself. I just don't have success that way because it doesn't lead to health - just my ability to eat a certain amount of what I don't need.

The book is interesting and it is a pretty fast read. You will know pretty quickly if it speaks to you.

Good luck!

03-02-2011, 11:35 PM
I think South Beach is one of the best non-counting diets in existence, but I can't lose weight on South Beach. I lost a little weight the first couple weeks, and then stall (no gains, but no losses, even when I stayed on Phase I).

However, I can't lose weight on Primal Blueprint (or other ancestor diets) or even Atkins.

Any plan that relies on "mindful" but unlimited eating, doesn't work well for me. I can't portion-control and I can't tell "false hunger" from "true hunger."

So I chose a reduced-carb exchange plan, and try to make food choices from low-carb/low-GI foods. I was greatly influenced by South Beach, Primal Blueprint, and even Atkins (if you follow OWL as described, it's more similar to South Beach than the all-bacon diet it is often accused of being).

Technically, with an exchange plan I could choose high-carb choices for my fruit/carb choices, but in practice I tend to eat off-plan if I don't make low GI choices.

I like that exchange plans are flexible and insure some balance (whatever you decide that balance should be). Even "good carbs" tend to increase hunger for me, so I limit them fairly strictly. I found a low-carb exchange plan on the website, and modified it for my needs. I find that I prefer and do better with fruit carbs than starch/grain carbs, so I swapped out some of the bread exchanges for fruit.

I love that almost all exchange plans use the same values for the actual exchanges - so the cookbooks are all virtually interchangeable (though if you're carb-sensitive, or have trigger foods, some recipes will not be well-suited to your food plan).

03-03-2011, 12:18 AM
I lost the first 10 pounds counting calories. I lost the next 30 (just about) on SB. I liked the flexibility of calorie counting, that I could have whatever I wanted. But, it was SOO hard for me to stay on plan, and it seemed like so much work. Admittedly, cutting out carbs has made my weight very sensitive to them, and so if I choose to go off plan for a day, it does stall my weight longer than it did on calorie counting.

Overall, I'm very happy with SB. I feel like it's effortless. I've found a comfort range of foods I eat regularly, and it's easier for me to say "I can't have x" than to try to calculate if it fits in. I don't feel like I have to plan as much in advance either. I've also noticed that my "hunger" has gone down, and my moods are more stable. I rarely get cranky in between meals anymore, and if anything, I have to remember to add an extra snack or so to keep my calories high enough.

I had a hard time picturing myself counting calories every day for the rest of my life, but I feel like I can do this. I'm not always as strict as I should be, and I don't work as hard at it as I probably could, but with going to school, working full time, and trying to maintain a normal life, I feel like this fits me perfectly.

Oooh and as an added bonus- it has really cut back on eating out. Since I dont have as much flexibility as calorie counting, there are fewer options that I enjoy as much as what I cook at home. (eating out was a huge pitfall for me in the past)

03-03-2011, 07:01 AM
You seem very attached to fruit - fruit is converted by your body into simple sugars, just like a chocolate chip cookie. The benefit of fruit is that it may contain some fiber and vitamins, but the effect on your blood sugar is pretty much the same for a lot of fruits. I will be interested to see what happens to your weight if you give up fruit for 2 weeks. Generally, I need to stay away from most fruits except berries. When I started phase 2, I added in an apple a day and had terrible cravings from it. Try it out and see what happens - you may find fruit is a real impediment for you.

03-03-2011, 09:42 AM
I love both! I learned, so, so, so much from SBD. Yes, read the book! ;) I did SBD a few years ago. I lost 30 pounds, quit, and put it all back on again. That's my only problem with SBD. It IS a diet, for me. It's something I could quit. With calorie counting, I still follow the basic principles of SBD, but not strictly. I eat a diet of mostly whole foods with an emphasis on proteins, fruits, and veggies and a moderate amount of complex carbs. What I am doing now is absolutely sustainable and I've sustained it for 16 months now. I know about cravings and I know how to stop them all because of SBD. Really, I'm very much in a phase II style of diet, but I don't stress over it and if dessert comes my way, I indulge. :D

03-03-2011, 11:37 AM
I'm trying to do both right now - I eat 1300-1500 cal/day, but try to keep all those calories SBD friendly. It's been very (very) slow going, but I had stalled out when I started phase 2 and this at least has let me see a couple pounds go away.

03-03-2011, 11:54 AM
I've been eating South Beach foods with a portion control back-up, mostly calorie counting now I'm experimenting with WW. I do think there's a lot of value in doing a clean 2 weeks on Phase 1, fruit free, just to see if it changes your relationship with food. It was dramatic for me so I think it's worth the 2 weeks to check it out. I eat lots of fruit now but that 2 weeks was life altering when it comes to me and food.

03-03-2011, 04:21 PM
Thanks for the input, ladies. I'm ordering the book right now.

Mmckellen, I'm definitely attached to fruit. I probably have 3-4 servings most days. I think you're right in that it's definitely worth giving it a go to see if it makes a difference. I just went grocery shopping 2 days ago, so once the fruit is gone, I plan on starting.