General Diet Plans and Questions - *Current Calorie Counter* - Wanting to know pros/cons of low carb dieting?




omgzitsmiranda
08-22-2011, 06:32 PM
Can anyone give me some good ideas about the pros, but also the cons of low carb dieting?

Also, if anyone has went from counting calories to counting carbs could you please share your progress and such.

Thanks! :carrot:


ERHR
08-22-2011, 09:31 PM
This is sort of a difficult question to answer because there are so many ways you can do calorie-counting and so many ways you can do low-carb. In my experience, I am losing faster doing low-carb while eating MORE calories and I feel much more satisfied with the foods I am eating (lots of fat, fiber, and protein!). I feel like with calorie-counting I could have a little of anything but with low-carbing I can have plenty of certain kinds of very delicious foods.

For reference, I am following a low-sugar, moderate-carb diet. I average about 12 g of sugar and 90 g gross of carbohydrates (around 65 g net) per day.

April Snow
08-25-2011, 06:23 PM
I did calorie counting a couple of years ago - averaged about 1350 calories a day and lost a little over 40 lbs in about six months. I tried to eat pretty "cleanly" - meaning mostly fresh, whole foods and not too much processed foods. I ate whole grains, lots of veggies and some fruit, and a fair amount of protein. After 6 months, I ran out of steam, and over the next couple of years, gained back almost everything (about 35 lbs out of the ~43 I had lost). I tried to get started up again with calorie counting but just could not get it to stick this time.

In May, several people I know decided to try the Dukan Diet. It's a very low carb, low fat plan. It's pretty restrictuve - you eat a small amount of oat bran each day, but no other grains or starches. The allowed foods are lean protein, low/no fat dairy and veggies. It is definitely very restrictive but the interesting thing for me is that it has been SO easy to follow. There is a list of 100 foods and that is all you eat. so there isn't that much thought process that has to go into it - if it's on the 100 list you eat it. If it's not on the 100 list, you don't eat it. But you can eat as much as you want, so you never have to worry about being hungry or saving up calories. If you are hungry, you eat something on the 100 list. But I find that I don't have a huge appetite, which is normal for low carb diets, so you end up not eating all that much food. However, for me, it's just is easier psychologically to know that if I'm hungry, I can eat, and I don't have to bargain with myself about it being ok to go over my calorie limit.

I am finding the plan very easy to stay on and I've lost 37 lbs in 3 months so far - which is fantastic motivation for staying on plan! I also really like that this plan has a special phase in between losing weight and maintenance, where you gradually start to add back in the foods at are currently restricted. Maintaining my losses has always been my downfall, so I am hoping that this extra guidance will be what finally makes the difference.

feel free to ask any questions if you are curious about it - it's been in Europe for a while now but fairly new in the US.


kelly315
08-25-2011, 07:01 PM
I considered IP, but decided it wasn't for me. The things that pushed me away from it:

-restricting what foods I could eat left me feeling deprived. With calorie counting, I can eat just about anything, if I take the time to figure out how to make a low calorie version or proper portions.

-too hard to follow. Not only am I running the risk of feeling deprived and increasing my changes of cheating, but the food tends to be more expensive and requires more forethought. I'm not really prepared to have to spend a lot of time worrying about circumstances that arise, like if I'm invited to lunch without much notice. I know I can easily make a good choice with calorie counting, which is why I prefer it.

-potential health risks. A lot of low carb diets want you to induce ketosis, a state in which your liver can be continually stressed. I've also read some things saying that the other organs may be at risk from long-term ketosis as well. Some people, like the doctor who started IP, have their own view about whether there are health risks or not. I haven't read all the literature evenly, so I cannot tell you which is the truth.

-similar weight loss. While the first few weeks of weight loss is quick on a low-carb diet, it generally averages out to the same amount of weight I lose calorie counting. You see a lot of amazing numbers from low-carb diets, like April Snow's incredible 37 pounds (congrats!), but you can also get amazing numbers calorie counting. I lost 20lbs in the first month (estimating 12 pounds worth of calorie deficit and 8 pounds lost from water and excess food in my digestive system), and if I continue my 1500cal/day deficit (eating 12-1400 cals and working out 30-45minutes), then I can expect to lose a total of 45lbs in 3 months (even after my initial weight loss slows). This is similar to the amount of weight I lost last time I counted calories (120lbs in a year without exercise), but slightly faster due to the fact that I workout daily, which I didn't do last time.

But, I've also heard that low-carb diets are the best for those with diabetes, and tend to help alleviate type 2 better than cutting calories alone.

Of course, you're going to get all different sorts of people on this site, many of which who have strong opinions about their own diet, so like me they'll probably suggest their own. We all understand that it's an individual choice, and will support you no matter what you decide.

omgzitsmiranda
08-25-2011, 07:49 PM
Thanks for getting back to me everyone!
I'm glad to see and hear both sides of it to fully grasp the full potential of both sides. :)

@kelly315, I private messaged you yesterday asking a question about calorie deficit that I was hoping you could help me with if you don't mind :)

Ellen
08-26-2011, 04:06 PM
I have done both. I LOATHE counting calories. I LOVE being able to eat allowed low carb foods to my satisfaction. Cons of low carb dieting: you can NOT cheat! It just undoes everything, and you have to about start over. Birthday parties are difficult events...especially if you love cake like I do. :)

kaplods
08-26-2011, 10:49 PM
Even on low-carb eating, I have to count calories (at least indirectly) because I can stall even on Atkins induction. I just cannot use hunger as my guide, because I haven't been able to learn to tell false hunger for real hunger.

I am MUCH less hungry on low-carb, so that's a HUGE plus.

I get to eat more calories. After the first month (where you lose a lot of water on low-carb) I lose about the same on 1800 - 2000 calories of low-carb, as I do on 1500 - 1800 of high carb, and on high-carb, I'm starving all of the time.

I actually do switch back and forth occasionally, and while most people tell you that you can't alternate, that you'll "gain all the weight back" if you return to higher carb eating even if your calories are low - that's not been my experience.

There is a "conversion weight" though. Your body needs more water to process carbs, so in your first two to three weeks of low-carb your body gets rid of the extra water it no longer needs. If you return to high-carb eating, you'll gain that water back - so it looks like you've gained several pounds (and you have, but just of the extra water that you need to digest the extra carbs). When you return to low-carb, you'll lose the water weight.

I sort of look at it this way

My weight on low-carb is currently 302, but that "translates" into about 306 to 307 on high-carb.

As long as you realize that there's a "conversion" to be done - that you'll see an extra 1-2% water gain when converting from low-carb to high-carb, and you'll lose the 1-2% converting from high-carb to low-carb.

Because of the extra hunger on high-carb (and the extra water weight), I don't do high-carb very often, but I've not found that I'm regaining (except the 1-2% water conversion) when I use my higher carb "back up plan."

I count exchanges rather than calories (although since the exchanges all have a similar calorie count within each exchange category, it's still calorie counting, just by estimation. An 1800 calorie exchange plan, is going to average 1800 calories).

My main plan is an 1800-2000 calorie low-carb exchange plan, and my "back up plan" is a 1500 -1800 calorie traditional (high-carb) exchange plan. If I stick to either religiously, I lose at about the same rate (I just have to keep the 1-2% water conversion in mind).

The down side of the high-carb plan is that I'm much hungrier on it, have to cut calories by an extra 17%, and I tend to have more fatigue, pain and other health issue symptoms that tend to decrease my interest and commitment to exercise.

One advantage to the high-carb exchange plan is that it's easy to follow anywhere (so if I'm invited to a party or to a restaurant, it's easy to stay on plan).


With low-carb plans, I get to eat more, and I'm less hungry. However, I need to eat frequently, or I get headaches, mood swings and other symptoms that I associate (by home testing) with low-blood sugar or a rapid drop in blood sugar. So for me, with low-carb eating, I have to eat small meals frequently.

On low-carb, I can eat fewer meals only by eating quite a bit of fat with the larger meals. I stick with small snack-ish meals, because it has helped me shrink my stomach, to help me eat less if I do overeat.

I use exchange plans, so I can control calories and carbs (but I tend to go off plan easier on the high-carb plans, because of the extra hunger).

My "everyday plan," is a moderately low-carb plan (equivalent to Atkins several weeks into OWL or South Beach, at about 80-100g of carb).

My TOM/PMS plan is about the same calorie level, but closer to Atkins induction. Moslty I do this just for vanity. I gain up to 10 lbs of water weight during TOM/PMS. Very low-carb eating, flushes water out of the system, so I can gain less with TOM/PMS if I stick to low-carb. Low-carb also helps me resist TOM/PMS fatty-carb cravings (like milk chocolate). I can indulge in my beef cravings, but I have to count them (because I can definitely stall if I eat all the meat I want during that week).

Low-carb also seems to decrease the severity of my PMDD symptoms. The mood swings, and the cramps are a lot better. Hubby used to call me werewolf because of the moodswings and cravings for beef and chocolate (He used to say it wasn't safe to come into the apartment unless he threw burgers through the door and waited to hear munching - sadly he wasn't exagerating by much).

I can't eat all the red meat I want, or even all of my protein exchanges IN beef or pork - because that aggravates the cramps, but I can spend about 1/3 of my protein exchanges every day on red meat.

knaan
08-27-2011, 02:33 PM
Struggling with my weight, I found a very simple and convenient way to track my food intake during the day using a new method called the "Categories Method" by "CountEat.Calories" :a very useful iPhone app.

lin43
08-27-2011, 03:11 PM
-similar weight loss. While the first few weeks of weight loss is quick on a low-carb diet, it generally averages out to the same amount of weight I lose calorie counting. You see a lot of amazing numbers from low-carb diets, like April Snow's incredible 37 pounds (congrats!), but you can also get amazing numbers calorie counting. I lost 20lbs in the first month (estimating 12 pounds worth of calorie deficit and 8 pounds lost from water and excess food in my digestive system), and if I continue my 1500cal/day deficit (eating 12-1400 cals and working out 30-45minutes), then I can expect to lose a total of 45lbs in 3 months (even after my initial weight loss slows). This is similar to the amount of weight I lost last time I counted calories (120lbs in a year without exercise), but slightly faster due to the fact that I workout daily, which I didn't do last time.

I've figured this out as well. In the past when I considered reduced carb diet, I always check out the forums to see how fast people are losing, what the challenges are, etc. I usually find that people have really fast weight initial weight loss with reduced carb diets but that it levels off after a while so that after 3-4 months, the total weight loss is not that much different from what one would lose on a typical reduced calorie diet. I do think that reduced carb diets make it harder to retain water weight and, in that sense, one seems lighter than with reduced calorie diets.

Of all the many diets I've tried, I always seem to stick with calorie counting because it gives me the most eating freedom, and it's the one that seems to disrupt my life the least.

ETA: I think sometimes we all get burned out on our plans. So, if you've been calorie counting for a while, you might get tired of it. If you've been low carbing for a while, you might get tired of that. When that happens, I think it's fine to switch plans. You're still moving forward rather than giving up, and that's what's important.

April Snow
08-27-2011, 05:33 PM
My point was that I am losing almost twice as fast for ME. Other people may lose faster than me overall - I'm almost 50, a lot older than a lot of people here, which is a big factor in that. But in terms of a direct comparison for me, it took me 6 months of calorie counting to lose 42 lbs, and 3 months on my current plan to lose 37. That's an average of 7 lbs a month calorie counting vs. over 12 with low carb.